First-Year Teachers in Unfamiliar Territory: Case Studies of Novice Teachers in Urban Schools




Higdon, Kimberly A.

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The attrition rates for teachers in urban schools are alarming, and nearly one third of our nation's children attend urban schools (Fuhrman, 2002). With higher teacher retention students in urban schools will have teachers with more experience and who are more likely to be the highly qualified teachers that they deserve. The experiences of novice urban teachers must be examined and better understood in order for universities to develop highly effective teacher preparation programs and for universities, school districts and regional service centers to create effective professional development for practicing teachers. The purpose of this study was to gain a year long, multiple perspective view of the experiences of four first-year teachers in two urban elementary schools in Central Texas via case study method. Data were collected using observations, interviews, and critical incidence reports. Individual and cross-case analysis suggested that teachers were basically successful understanding curriculum and instruction, but faced challenges in understanding the cultures of their students and working with English language learners, in addition to Veenman's (1984) findings on the perceived problems of beginning teachers. There appeared to be a strong relationship between teacher success/satisfaction and relationships with students and faculty, principal expectations, and mentor relationships, teaching behaviors and attitudes. Teachers did not perceive the district's teacher induction program as supportive. Implications for districts, administrators and teacher preparation programs are presented.



first year teachers, education, case studies


Higdon, K.A. (2005). First-year teachers in unfamiliar territory: Case studies of novice teachers in urban schools (Unpublished dissertation). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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