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Mitigating the ‘Trial by Fire’: The Experiences of Residency Teachers Participating in a Post-Graduate, Pre-Service Teaching Residency Program Open Access


Other title
pre-service, diversity, residency, relationships, action research, case study, professional learning, urban, teacher researchers
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Harding, Kelly J
Supervisor and department
Parsons, Jim (Secondary Education) U of A
Examining committee member and department
Loreman, Tim (Concordia University of Edmonton)
Stelmach, Bonnie (Educational Policy Studies) U of A
Webber, Charles (Mount Royal University)
Watt, Bonita (Secondary Education) U of A
Adams, Pamela (University of Lethbridge)
Department of Secondary Education

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Education
Degree level
This is a case study of the experiences of five teachers who returned to university for an after degree diploma in effective teaching and learning in urban contexts. The ten month school based residency was facilitated by a partnership between a large school district and university. The residents maintained a weekly online journal, they completed assignments for their university professors, they participated in the full range of activities and responsibilities as their cooperating teacher partners, and they invested heavily in reflective and responsive processes. At the conclusion of their residency, they were asked to identify which components of the residency were the most significant in their development. The findings have implications for university program developers and school board leadership. Length of practicum, the nature of the relationships that occur within the practicum, and the activities that encourage, guide and support new teacher growth are essential. All of the residency participants identified the brevity and superficiality of their student-teaching practicum as a significant weakness in preparing them for the realities of the classroom and the challenges of the career. Learning to teach, and shifting one’s identity from student to teacher is a complicated process that requires on-site supportive and critical relationships. Schools that take on the responsibility of preparing teachers must have in place a culture that expects and models reflective and responsive processes; moreover, rather than student-teacher placements based on the availability of mentors, there should be a process by which cooperating teachers are selected because of their commitment to inquiry, collaborative learning activities and life-long growth. Especially for new teachers, professional learning must be relevant to their student and subject context, connected to the challenges they are facing in their teaching assignment, and afforded time and space to practice, get feedback and integrate changes to improve their practice. Finally, if teachers are going to be effective learning leaders regardless of the student variables they encounter, they require expansive experiences working with diverse student populations where they can explore, practice and apply a wide range of intervention strategies to mitigate the impact of issues predominant in urban classrooms.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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