Professionals or technicians? Teacher preparation programs and occupational understandings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Teacher preparation is a mechanism of occupational socialization, a process by which novice workers learn the norms and values of the occupation. Traditional education programs housed in schools of education support the ideology of a professional teacher with norms that include a strong pedagogical knowledge base and a gradual induction to the field. Alternative training programs, conversely, are field based with a strong technical emphasis on content and skills. The primary question of this research, therefore, is do the differing modes of entry socialize novice teachers into different occupational understandings? To address the question I interview 49 beginning teachers in one labor market, 26 alternatively certified and 23 traditionally certified, to explore occupational understandings by preparation program. The initial socialization process was weak for both groups, and neither expressed a strong professional or technical identity, indicating the differences between preparation programs is overstated in the literature. All teachers expressed a strong classroom focus and supported the idea of learning through experience, although there were some key differences in the role of peer groups and pedagogical theory. Overall, the definition of a professional teacher presented by teachers themselves is a fluid, rather than concrete, ideal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-205
Number of pages23
JournalTeachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Alternative certification
  • Professions
  • Socialization
  • Teacher preparation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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