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Sharing Problems, Sharing Solutions Through Computer-Mediated Discussions
Unformatted Document Text:  Section I: Content A. Statement of the Problem: As the responsibilities of classroom teachers become progressively more complex, so too do the student teaching experiences of pre-service teachers. Current research indicates that these pre-service teachers encounter with increasing frequency the effects of isolation, difficult working conditions, inadequate preparation, and insufficient support. Complicating the situation, in moving out of their college classroom setting to venture full-time into P-12 classrooms, student teachers often leave behind the supportive relationships they have grown to rely upon when facing new educationally-related situations. In addressing this complex situation, recent studies assert that membership in support groups provides opportunities for peer interactions that not only address these stress-causing factors, but also promote competency, enthusiasm, and reflection. A comparatively new vehicle for offering such support, computer-mediated communication allows developing educators a venue for beneficial instructional and psychological reinforcement that is neither time nor geography dependent. B. Literature Review: Student teachers are often considered beginning teachers and held responsible for all aspects of a “regular” teacher’s job: teaching several classes, holding parent conferences, attending professional development workshops, submitting lesson plans to their administrators, and sponsoring extracurricular activities. In addition, in some cases they are not only beginning teachers; they also have the added responsibilities of attending college or university classes to earn their certification and teaching degree. With these added stresses, student teachers, thus, require support mechanisms to assist them not only with learning how to teach, but also in negotiating their transition from “student” to “teacher of students.” Gold (1996) identifies two broad concepts of support that beginning teachers need: instructional and psychological. Instructional support helps novice teachers succeed in classroom and school settings while psychological support facilitates self-confidence, self-esteem, self-reliance, and ways to handle stress (p. 561). New teachers repeatedly struggle with the same instructional issues: managing a classroom effectively, motivating students, organizing instruction, assessing student work, relating to parents, dealing with student differences, and acquiring classroom supplies (Darling-Hammond, 2003; Gold, 1996; Veenman, 1984; Zimpher & Rieger, 1988). In order to combat these problems, instructional support must deal with four areas: understanding the subject matter, being able to translate subject matter into student-accessible material, using a variety of methods to teach, and being able to reflect critically on their practice (Gold, 1996; Shulman, 1986). Psychological support is an umbrella term that covers many aspects of a teachers’ life, including emotional support, positive regard, empathetic listening, confidence building, stress management, and increasing efficacy and self-reliance (Gold, 1996). Gold and Roth (1993) recommend that new teachers be provided psychological support that includes awareness of individual needs, knowledge of how to meet those needs, and available individuals to provide support. Likewise, novice teachers need to feel valued, safe and connected to others; have power over their own ideas and actions; find meaning in their professional lives; and be willing to take risks (Tang, 2003).

Authors: Steadman, Sharilyn., Scherff, Lisa. and Whyte, Alyson.
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Section I: Content
A. Statement of the Problem:
As the responsibilities of classroom teachers become progressively more
complex, so too do the student teaching experiences of pre-service teachers. Current
research indicates that these pre-service teachers encounter with increasing frequency the
effects of isolation, difficult working conditions, inadequate preparation, and insufficient
support. Complicating the situation, in moving out of their college classroom setting to
venture full-time into P-12 classrooms, student teachers often leave behind the supportive
relationships they have grown to rely upon when facing new educationally-related
situations. In addressing this complex situation, recent studies assert that membership in
support groups provides opportunities for peer interactions that not only address these
stress-causing factors, but also promote competency, enthusiasm, and reflection. A
comparatively new vehicle for offering such support, computer-mediated communication
allows developing educators a venue for beneficial instructional and psychological
reinforcement that is neither time nor geography dependent.
B. Literature Review:
Student teachers are often considered beginning teachers and held responsible for
all aspects of a “regular” teacher’s job: teaching several classes, holding parent
conferences, attending professional development workshops, submitting lesson plans to
their administrators, and sponsoring extracurricular activities. In addition, in some cases
they are not only beginning teachers; they also have the added responsibilities of
attending college or university classes to earn their certification and teaching degree.
With these added stresses, student teachers, thus, require support mechanisms to assist
them not only with learning how to teach, but also in negotiating their transition from
“student” to “teacher of students.”
Gold (1996) identifies two broad concepts of support that beginning teachers
need: instructional and psychological. Instructional support helps novice teachers succeed
in classroom and school settings while psychological support facilitates self-confidence,
self-esteem, self-reliance, and ways to handle stress (p. 561). New teachers repeatedly
struggle with the same instructional issues: managing a classroom effectively, motivating
students, organizing instruction, assessing student work, relating to parents, dealing with
student differences, and acquiring classroom supplies (Darling-Hammond, 2003; Gold,
1996; Veenman, 1984; Zimpher & Rieger, 1988). In order to combat these problems,
instructional support must deal with four areas: understanding the subject matter, being
able to translate subject matter into student-accessible material, using a variety of
methods to teach, and being able to reflect critically on their practice (Gold, 1996;
Shulman, 1986).
Psychological support is an umbrella term that covers many aspects of a teachers’
life, including emotional support, positive regard, empathetic listening, confidence
building, stress management, and increasing efficacy and self-reliance (Gold, 1996). Gold
and Roth (1993) recommend that new teachers be provided psychological support that
includes awareness of individual needs, knowledge of how to meet those needs, and
available individuals to provide support. Likewise, novice teachers need to feel valued,
safe and connected to others; have power over their own ideas and actions; find meaning
in their professional lives; and be willing to take risks (Tang, 2003).


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