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Monday, August 17, 2009

What are the Three Stages of Concerns of Beginning Teachers During the First Five Years of Their Career?

In this section of the blog we are focusing on a body of knowledge about learning to teach that a mentor needs to understand in order to provide constructive assistance to their mentees.

In this post we will examine three developmental stages of concern that beginning teachers report experiencing during the first five years of their career.

*Frances F. Fuller (1969), another researcher, identified these three critical stages that many beginning teachers pass through during their first five years of teaching.

F. Fuller's (1969) The Three Stages of Concerns of Beginning Teachers

During the First Five Years of Their Career


Description of the Stage

Survival or
Self Stage

Beginning teachers are concerned about performing well during observations and evaluation meetings, and getting students, parents, and other teachers to accept and appreciate them. The main focus is surviving the school year.


Mastery or

Task Stage

Having passed the survival and security stage, beginning teachers are now concerned about instructional and classroom management issues.


Impact on

Students Stage

Having passed the mastery stage, beginning teachers are now concerned with the impact of their instruction on the learning needs of their students.

Although Fuller’s research dates back to 1969 it resonates with us today. Indeed we believe that these three stages are not only the developmental concerns of beginning teachers; they are also shared by experienced, mentor, and expert teachers under these and related conditions:

· when they teach a new course

· when they take on a new responsibility at the school

· when they work with a different student population from the one with which they are familiar

· when they transfer to a new school

· when they are assigned or volunteer to participate in a new project

When working with pre-service, beginning, and experienced teachers you will inevitably encounter resistance to the technical assistance that you wish to provide. This mentee resistance should be expected in view of the fact that many people express a reluctance to change. Indeed, experienced teachers may have sound reasons for not wanting to modify their instructional and classroom management procedures. For example, these mentees may:

· feel comfortable with the instructional and classroom procedures they are presently using

· find that their present procedures are highly effective

· see no need to change what they are doing at this point in their career

· tell you that they have tried to implement the change that you would like them to consider, and it did not produce the desired results

· tell you that new innovations appear each year and each one has a limited shelf life.

These reasons are all valid for not adopting a new innovation to their professional repertoire of practices, and we would suggest that you sincerely validate mentees for wanting to retain that which is working for them.

* Fuller, F. (1969). Concerns of Teachers: A Developmental Conceptualization.American Educational Research Journal 6 (2).

In the next post we will examine the role of a teacher's commitment to teaching as a variable in mentoring.

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