School of Education


Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (EdD)


Grania Holman


Novice teachers, English as a Second Language, First Year Teachers, Second Language Learners, First Year Experiences


Education | Teacher Education and Professional Development


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe the experiences of first-year, general education content teachers working with ELLs in secondary schools who have limited or no training to do so. The first-year teacher experience was defined as the situations and circumstances of teachers in their introductory year of instruction; their expectations upon entry, the realities of the actual experience, and the concluding reflections following their first year. Schlossberg’s transition theory guided this study as it lends itself to capturing the transition process and added information to the body of research on teaching ELLs - more specifically the experiences of teachers’ transitions through their first year of teaching in an area where they have little or no training. The central research question guiding this study is: How do secondary education teachers untrained in ESL methods in the southeastern region of the United States describe their first year experiences in content area classrooms with high numbers of ELLs in their classrooms? The guiding questions include: (a) how do participants describe their expectations of their first year of teaching prior to the actual experience, (b) What were the strategies that participants described using in adapting their teaching methods for ELL students throughout their first year, and (c) How do participants describe their planning strategies and processes for their second year of teaching ELL students based on their experiences of their first year? Face-to-face interviews, focus groups, and correspondence letters were used to collect data from which common themes were discovered. Data was analyzed using Moustakas’s modified version of Van Kaam’s approach to transcendental phenomenology.