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Influences on the practice of novice home economics teachers Pelech, Judia


Feiman-Nemser and Floden (1986) described teacher socialization as learning to be a teacher and negotiating between idealism and what is possible in particular school settings. This study explored the influences of personal history and idealisms on novice home economics teachers' images of teaching. The second aspect of this study examined the ways in which these influences are recognized and negotiated in teaching practices. The research focus is of particular interest, because of the subject matter of home economics education. The home economics teacher enables students to define and solve problems within family dynamics and it is of interest to study whether the home economics teacher's personal history influences his or her practice of teaching. One first year teacher and three student teachers participated in this study. Life history and ethnographic interviewing were used to capture the stories of the subjects. The conversations were audiotaped and transcribed for analysis. Two central themes were elicited from analysis of the interviews. The themes centered on 1) personal history; and 2) being a good teacher. The theme on personal history included the areas of family, family dynamics and responsibility, and former teachers. The areas of family, former teachers, and being a good teacher were common influences to all four subjects. The area of responsibility applied to two of the subjects. The findings of this study indicate that people of significance, that is, parents, grandparents, siblings and former teachers, have some bearing on novice home economics teachers' images and practices of teaching. Although the novice teachers recognized these influences, they were not always comfortable with these influences on their teaching practices. Novice home economics teachers constantly strive within their practices to realize their ideals of teaching. These findings have implications in teacher education, classroom practice and for future research. Curriculum and instruction courses in teacher education programs need to provide ways for prospective teachers to discuss and acknowledge and critically reflect on influences in their life histories which have led them to teaching and shaped their images of teaching and their teaching practice. It may be that family has been particularly influential in the lives of home economics teachers because it is also the subject matter they teach. Research with novice teachers in other subject area specializations could provide data to compare with the home economics teachers in this study.

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