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Initial Choices: Promising to Teach

by Judy Randi & Karen Zumwalt - 2017

This article explores the motivations of the 25 exemplar elementary, secondary English, and secondary math teachers at the time they chose to enter teaching either through New Jersey’s alternate route (AR) program or college-based (CB) programs in the state. The article presents data that reveal these teachers’ underlying reasons for embarking on a teaching career and the circumstances that led them to a particular pathway. Their reasons for choosing teaching as a career are characterized on a continuum from passion (altruism) to pragmatism (practical considerations). The article then compares demographic characteristics and motivational influences of each group. Although these new recruits chose different pathways, the reasons they provided for teaching seem to characterize a changing teacher workforce rather than reveal striking differences between pathways.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 119 Number 14, 2017, p. 1-22
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22222, Date Accessed: 2/27/2021 10:14:47 PM

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About the Author
  • Judy Randi
    University of New Haven
    E-mail Author
    JUDY RANDI is professor of education at the University of New Haven. Her research program focuses on teacher innovations. She has collaborated with teachers to document their innovative teaching practices, including adaptive teaching, self-regulated learning, writing instruction, and visual literacy.
  • Karen Zumwalt
    Teachers College, Columbia University
    E-mail Author
    KAREN ZUMWALT is Edward Evenden Professor Emerita in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching, Teachers College, Columbia University. Following public school teaching in Cleveland, Ohio, and Glencoe, Illinois, she earned her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. She was a teacher educator at Smith College (Massachusetts) for three years and at Teachers College for 37 years. Her writings and research have focused on curriculum and teacher education. She won AERA’s first Interpretive Scholarship Award in 1983 for her NSSE Yearbook chapter on policy implications of research on teaching.
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