Term Paper: Teacher Disposition Similarities and Differences Between Elementary and Secondary School Teachers

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Teacher Disposition: SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOL TEACHERS

The objective of this work is to research and examine the similarities and differences in teaching disposition between Elementary and Secondary school teachers and to answer the question of whether it requires a different type of personality to teach a certain age level, and if so, then what disposition suits which age group and why? Also answered will be the questions of: "Why is there a preference for many teachers to teach a certain age level?"; "Is it possible for teachers that do not possess certain dispositions to achieve success in the classroom?

It is understood among all educators and teachers that certain requirements exist in relation to the disposition of the teacher insofar as the classroom practice is concerned.

There are many facets to what is considered to be the proper disposition for today's teacher. The work entitled: "Will: Ed Schools vs. Education" published in Newsweek January 16, 2006 states that: "Many education schools discourage, even disqualify prospective teachers who lack the correct 'disposition' meaning those who do not embrace today's 'progressive' political catechism." (Will, 2006) Will relates that the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education in 2002 "declared that a 'professional disposition' is guided by beliefs and attitudes related to values such as caring, fairness, honesty, responsibility and social justice."(2006) Further related is that an article published in the "Chronicle" states that the University of Alabama's College of Education proclaims itself "committed to preparing individuals to promote social justice, to be change agents, and to recognize individual and institutionalized racism, sexism, homophobia, and classism and to break silences about those things and develop ant-racist, anti-homophobic, anti-sexist community and alliances." () It is understood among all educators and teachers that certain requirements exist in relation to the disposition of the teacher insofar as the classroom practice is concerned.

I. A Disposition to Teach

Jayne White and Edward Williamson write that: "Those involved with preparing future teachers for our nation's schools have many responsibilities. One of the least known responsibilities is to produce teachers with the disposition to teach. In this work White & Williamson identify four types of teachers with dispositions that are unique. Those four are:

The Brittle Teacher (falls to pieces when hit)

The Malleable Teacher (flattened, shaped into something else)

The Inelastic Teacher (bent into a new shape)

The Elastic Teacher (bent but returns to original shape)

Certain skills that are required in the teacher are inclusive of cognitive skills. White and Williamson (2006) state that "among the general purposes of education, affective learning, having to do with attitudes, emotions, feelings, values, attitudes, predispositions, and morals is one of the most important but controversial, and perhaps the most problematic of all school issues. A teacher's affective skills, or the lack thereof, permeates both the curricular and instructional processes of the classroom. It is imperative that teachers demonstrate dispositions necessary to help all students learn. They must display attitudes that foster learning and genuine human relationships." (2006)

II. National Association of Scholars - Dispositions Defined

The National Association of Scholars defines 'dispositions' as: "The values, commitments, and professional ethics that influence behaviors toward students, families, colleagues, and communities and affect student learning, motivation and development as well as the educator's own professional growth. Dispositions are guided by beliefs and attitudes related to values such as caring, fairness, honestly, responsibility, and social justice. For example they might include a belief that all students can learn, a vision of high and challenging standards, or a commitment to a safe and supportive learning environments." (National Association of Scholars, 2005)

The work of Peart and Campbell (1999) identified four areas that are important for teachers to address for promotion of student achievement. Those four areas are:

1) Interpersonal skills;

2) Instructional skills;

3) Motivational leadership; and 4) Racial impartiality.

III. Three Categories of Teacher Dispositions

In the work entitled: "Integrating Dispositions into the Conceptual Framework: Four a priori questions" the authors states that the dispositions of teachers can be divided into three categories:

1) Teachers Behaviors - Observable activities of candidates during class activities or with children, including behaviors such as writes and speaks Standard English, punctual, smiles, neat/orderly appearance, etc.

2) Teacher Characteristics - Attributes or tendencies of candidates that are persistently demonstrated, such as tolerance of differences, open-mindedness, patience, enthusiasm, critical thinking, etc.

3) Teacher Perceptions - The attitudes, values, and belief systems that lie beneath teacher behaviors and teacher characteristics, such as self-concept, seeing students as able, a people v. thing orientation, etc. (Wasicsko, Callahan, & Wirtz, 2004)

The work of Denzine, Martin, & Cramblet (2005) entitled: "Do Teacher Education Programs Have Personality? states that "Fontana (1986) argues an understanding of the principles and theories of personality are vital for teachers. In particular he claims psychological insights into personality is relevant and important to education..." The reasons that Fontana (1986) states that these insights are important are:

1) Assists with understanding the personality of the teacher and the teacher's capacity for dealing with stress;

2) Personality theory can be utilized for improvement of the teacher's professional skills and confidence;

3) Upon understanding personality the potential of the teacher exists in assisting the students in the development of satisfying personalities." (Denzine, Martin & Cramblet, 2005; paraphrased)

Denzine, Martin, & Cramblet (2005) state that they "expand Fontana's arguments to include two additional reasons" as justification of the need of the teacher in understanding personality theory which are those of:

1) Facilitation of teacher induction; and 2) Support of two INTASC standards (Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium, 1992) which both relate to a need to understand personality theory.

Denzine, Martin & Cramblet (2005) state that comprehension of personality assist in the understanding of why "two teachers can complete the exact same teacher preparation program and yet, there can be vast individual differences in terms of how they handle the stress of the first year and adapt to their mew teaching role." (2005) Denzine, Martin & Cramblet point out the fact that it is clearly stated in the INTASC standards that the need exists to "pay attention to the disposition of teachers" and state that they believe "two INTASC standards justify the need for prospective teachers to have an understanding of personality theory which are listed as follows:

Principle 2: Student Development- The teacher understands how children learn and develop, and can provide learning opportunities that support a child's intellectual, social, and personal development.

Key Indicators - The Candidate:

Evaluates student performance to design instruction appropriate for social, cognitive and emotional development.

Principle 5 Motivation and Management - The teacher uses an understanding of individual and group motivation and behavior to create a learning environment that encourages positive social interaction, active engagement in learning, and self-motivation.

Key Indicators - The Candidate:

Engages students by relating lessons to students' personal interests, allowing students to have choices in their learning, and leading students to ask questions and solve problems that are meaningful to them.

Organizes, prepares students for, and monitors independent and group work that allows for full and varied participation of all individuals.

Analyzes classroom environment and interactions and makes adjustments to enhance social relationships, student motivation/engagement and productive work. (Denzine, Martin, & Cramblet, 2005)

Denzine, Martin & Cramblet classify personality terms into personality theoretical categories are follows:

1) Social and cognitive learning

2) Dispositional

3) Humanistic and existential

4) Psychoanalytic; and 5) Learning (2005)

Stated is that "researchers have found that thousands of personality traits can be organized in the following broad factors:

1) Hostile vs. agreeableness

2) Introversion vs. extroversion

3) Impulsive vs. conscientious

4) Neuroticism vs. emotional stability; and 5) Intellectual narrowness vs. intellectual openness. (Ibid)

Taylor and Wasicsko (2000) state that dispositions are often defined as the personal qualities or characteristics that are possessed by individuals including attitudes, beliefs, interests, appreciations, values, and modes of adjustment. Not surprisingly, there is a significant body of research indicating that teachers' attitudes, values and beliefs about students, about teaching, and about themselves, strongly influence the impact they will have on student learning and development (Collinson, et al. 1999 and Combs, 1974 as cited by Taylor & Wasicsko, 2000)

IV. Early Childhood Education - Dispositions

Disposition indicators stated by the University Teacher Education Committee at Western Illinois University are those as follow:

1) Collaboration - Works with others toward common goals;

2) Honesty and Integrity - Truthful, professional and trustworthy

3) Respect - Honors, values and demonstrates consideration and regard for oneself and others

4) Commitment to Learning - Demonstrates a respect for and is serious about knowledge acquisition

5) Emotional Maturity - Demonstrates situational appropriate behavior

6) Responsibility - Act independently and demonstrates accountability, reliability, and sound judgment.

V. Early Childhood Education Dispositions

There is somewhat of a difference in what the teacher must possess in terms of knowledge and in terms of disposition when working with early childhood education or early childhood special education level students. The following standards are stated by the State Board of Education… [END OF PREVIEW]

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