Life Cycle of the Career Teacher Notes

Steffy, B. E., Wolfe, M. P., Pasch, S. H., & Enz, B. J. (2000). The model and its application. In B.E. Steffy, M. P. Wolfe, S. H. Pasch, & B. J. Enz, (Eds.), Life cycle of the career Teacher pp. 1-25. California: Kappa Delta Pi and Corwin Press, Inc.

Promoting a Vision of Teaching for a Lifetime of Practice


·      Assumptions about the cycle:

o   "Teacher development is directional and impelled by the need to improve.

o   The level of development in the life cycle of teaching is a function of personal characteristics, school contexts, support systems, and solid preparation.

o   A community of inquiry about teaching encourages learning among teachers and students.

o   Teaching excellence is influenced by one's ability to learn, do scholarly work, and commit to growth.

o   Situation or context is a powerful force for growth and/or withdrawal.

o   Excellence in teaching depends upon the centrality of caring - for students, self, ideas, and the profession (p. 3)."


The Life Cycle of the Career Teacher

·      Phases or Stages?

o   "In common with other developmental theories, the model views growth as unfolding through interactions between persons and their environments in an identifiable, sequential pattern; acknowledges that individuals move along the continuum at different rates; and views the growing individual as an active participant in his or her own development (p. 4)."

·      Life-Cycle Phases of the Career Teacher

o   Novice è Apprentice è Professional è Expert è Distinguished è Emeritus

o   Novice Teacher

§  "The novice phase begins when preservice students first encounter practicum experiences as part of their teacher education program and continues through student teaching and the intern experience (p. 6)."

§  Usually hesitant, unsure

§  Skill introduction and development

§  Catalyst for movement: reflection on practice and increased confidence; completion of teacher preparation program

o   Apprentice Teacher

§  "The apprentice phase begins for most teachers when they receive responsibility for planning and delivering instruction on their own (p. 6)."

§  Induction - 2-3 years

§  Energetic, Enthusiastic, Idealistic, Eager, Passionate about student success, Disillusionment è often leave the profession

§  Catalyst for movement: avoidance of withdrawal, critical reflection, experiences of renewal and growth

o    Professional Teacher           

§  Growth in self confidence because of positive student feedback

§  "Students view professional teachers as patient, kind, understanding, and helpful (p. 7)."

§  Seek opportunities to observe others, collaborate, seek help from peers, tenured

§  Recognize the value in observation, reflection, and interaction but struggle to find time to partake in those activities because of time

o   Expert Teacher

§  Leaders, committed

§  "Expert teacher anticipate student responses, modifying and adjusting instruction to promote growth. Teachers at this level competently support, facilitate, and nurture growth and development of all students, regardless of their backgrounds or ability levels. Students feel safe in the environment of mutual respect these teachers create (p. 8)."

§  Can last for a lifetime

o   Distinguished Teacher

§  Impact extends beyond the walls of the classroom to the local, state, and national levels

o   Emeritus

§  Retired from classroom teaching but continues to contribute to the profession.

§  Take on new roles in other realms of education beyond the classroom

§  Lifetime of achievement

§  "The transition to emeritus status involves identifying new ways to serve others. Through consultation, volunteerism, mentoring, and service activities with professional groups, these teachers are strong advocates and lobbyists for teachers (p. 10)."


Reflection and Renewal: The Mechanism of Growth

·      Progression from one stage to another involves reflection, renewal, and growth.

·      "The process of growth presented in the Life Cycle of the Career Teacher model is based on the assumption that reflection includes acquiring new knowledge and focuses on reflection-on-practice (p. 12)."

·      "The reflective teacher may acquire new knowledge through dialogue with colleagues, conference attendance, and organized professional-development activities (p. 12)." (MY THOUGHTS - What about unorganized professional development? How does that contribute - incidental learning in the workplace - is that to what they are referring when they mention dialogue with colleagues? Do they mean formal professional development experiences?)

·      The Process of Renewal: How Reflection Supports Growth

o   (MY THOUGHTS - Seems like they are ignoring the social aspects of learning)

o   "When teachers accept responsibility for student learning, they are inclined to reflect on each teaching moment and any improvements needed to increase learning. Teacher grow when they feel in control of student learning (p. 14)."

·      Withdrawal: How Growth Is Constrained

o   Levels of Withdrawal: initial è persistent è deep

o   (MY THOUGHTS - We need to be aware of these characteristics of our interns): Physical: low energy, chronic fatigue, weakness, weariness, increased illness, increased accidents, chemical or alcohol abuse, eating disorder; Emotional: depression, helplessness, irritability, loss of control, inability to cope, increase in nervousness, feelings of entrapment; Psychological: negative attitude, low self-concept, pessimism, blaming, inability to concentrate

o   Withdrawal can happen at any time and in any stage.

o   Initial - unawareness, danger zone, levels of adequacy in teaching, the growth processes slows or even stops, distancing physically during faculty events, lack of volunteerism

o   Persistent - expression of negative feelings, critical, unresponsive, engage in obstructive behaviors

o   Deep Withdrawal - growth ceases, defensive, difficult, detrimental to students


Other Processes Influencing Teacher Development

·      Developmental Issues Influencing the Life Cycle of the Career Teacher Model

o   Teachers Are Adult Human Beings

o   Schools Are Developmental Laboratories

§  Multigenerational interactions

o   Conflict Propels Development

§  "An imbalance with one's own point of view - whether from observations, interactions, or experiences - compels the person to reconsider, learn, or grow (pp. 18-19)." (MY THOUGHTS - It's cognitive dissonance (or an internal conflict) that is the impetus for growth.)

·      The Influence of Social Contexts on the Life Cycle of the Career Teacher

o   Learning Always Occurs in Changing Social Contexts

o   School Cultures Support or Impede Teacher Growth

o   Communities and Society Outside School Influence Growth


Threads of Continuity: Connections Among the Phases

·      Competent, Caring, and Qualified Teachers

·      Factors Sustaining Growth or Leading to Withdrawal


Uses and Benefits of the Life Cycle of the Career Teacher Model

·      Career = classroom career