First-year teachers’ perceptions of writing and writing instruction in their primary classroom : three case studies
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This interpretive case study is an investigation of three first-year teachers’ perceptions of student writing and writing instruction in second grade classrooms. The portrayals describe each teacher’s early experiences with literacy and their professional path that led them to the classroom. The case studies also present the knowledge and the resources these three teachers report drawing on during their first year as a professional. A description of the each classroom and an account of writing instruction further contextualizes the interpretation of the perceptions about student writing and writing instruction each teacher. Classroom observation and interview data were collected during the spring semester of these three teachers first year as a professional in the classroom. Data analysis was ongoing and inductive (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Recurring themes and patterns across the cases were used to build representations that most exemplified each teacher’s perceptions. The findings in this study suggest that novice teachers draw from multiple sources of knowledge as they teach writing for the first time. The findings also suggest that the strongest influences on beginning teachers’ writing instruction are their own experiences as a writer, their assigned mentor, and their grade-level team members. From the classroom observations and debriefing interviews, the findings further suggest that beginning teachers assume writing ideas come from teachers and that there is a particular writing process that is to be followed systematically. The findings also suggest that beginning teachers believe public displays of student work should be perfect and therefore place great importance on the conventions and mechanics of writing. The implications for this study and suggestions for future research relate to the potential for first year teachers to draw from multiple sources in their teacher education programs, the potential for school-based mentoring programs where mentor teachers receive training to support their work with new teachers especially as it impacts their practice and develops their expertise as they teach writing, and the potential for first year teachers to take the initiative for their own professional development as they continue to improve their practice teaching writing.