South African Journal of Education

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Are they really ‘ready, willing and able’? Exploring reality shock in beginner teachers in South Africa

Carolina S. Botha, Julialet Rens


This article reflects on the experiences of 100 South African beginner teachers and contextualises their experiences of reality shock by applying the ‘ready, willing and able’ model of Shulman and Shulman (2004). A discourse analysis of critical reflection on experiences during their first year(s) of teaching provided insight into the challenges they faced and indicated a correlation between the results of this study and the aims of the ‘ready, willing and able’ model. In this qualitative study the question is asked as to whether tertiary institutions might have an extended responsibility to better equip beginner teachers for handling the academic and emotional realities they will face. This article contributes to the growing body of knowledge on beginner teachers and reality shock through advocating an attitude of critical analysis and self-reflection that can empower beginner teachers to handle unpredictable situations, adapt and learn from experience and manage their experience of reality shock and stress during their first year(s) of teaching. The solution might be a shared responsibility that is guided by a commitment towards interdependence and inter-activeness within the system and all the role-players.

Keywords: beginner teacher; pre-service teacher training; reality shock
AJOL African Journals Online