Counting on Colleagues: New Teachers Encounter the Professional Cultures of their Schools


Susan M. Kardos, Susan Moore Johnson, Heather G. Peske, David Kauffman, and Edward Liu. 2001. “Counting on Colleagues: New Teachers Encounter the Professional Cultures of their Schools.” Educational Administration Quarterly, 37, 2, Pp. 250-290. Abstract, Sage Publications


In "Counting on colleagues: New teachers encounter the professional cultures of their schools" by S. M. Kardos, S. M. Johnson, H. G. Peske, D. Kauffman, & E. Liu (Educational Administration Quarterly, April 2001), we use new entrants’ accounts to characterize three types of professional cultures or subcultures within schools: veteran-oriented cultures, novice-oriented cultures, and integrated cultures. In veteran-oriented cultures, new teachers described norms of professional interaction determined, in large part, by the veterans, with little attention to the particular needs of beginning teachers. Such schools, or sub-units within schools, typically had a high proportion of senior teachers who worked independently and whose patterns of professional practice were well established. There were few meaningful structural mechanisms in place to orient, induct, and provide ongoing support for new teachers. In contrast, novice-oriented professional cultures typically existed in schools with high proportions of new recruits. Professional interactions in these settings were ongoing and intense, although generally uninformed by the expertise and wisdom of veteran teachers. Thus, new teachers received little professional guidance about how to teach. However, in integrated professional cultures, new teachers described being provided with sustained support and having frequent exchanges with colleagues across experience levels. In these cultures, there were no separate camps of veterans and novices. Expert teachers mentored and collaborated with their novice colleagues and often found that they, themselves, benefited from the exchange. Principals proved to be important in developing and maintaining integrated professional cultures. Teachers in schools with such cultures said that the principals were present and responsive, focused teachers’ efforts on improving teaching and learning, and used the teaching schedule and meeting times to promote peer observations, collaboration and teamwork among teachers. These principals were particularly attentive to the needs of new teachers. In contrast, principals in veteran-oriented and novice-oriented cultures were said to be preoccupied with bureaucratic responsibilities or fund-raising, and rarely observed teachers at work. They focused attention on discipline and paperwork rather than instruction, and seldom created opportunities for novice and veteran teachers to collaborate.

Last updated on 07/29/2019