ABSTRACT

Introduction While becoming a teacher anywhere is a complex process, in Kyrgyzstan this process has the added challenges of the country’s present socio-political and economic upheavals. In recent years, teachers with fewer than ten years of teaching experience constitute a significant and growing proportion of school staff. In addition to the typical personal and institutional challenges of adjusting to school culture, rules and regulations, children with various needs, and classroom management problems, these newer teachers face unique challenges that are specific to the socio-economic realities that have emerged in Kyrgyzstan since the collapse of the USSR. These include insufficient resources for schools, poor teacher retention, poorly qualified and inexperienced colleagues, high student dropout rates, a curriculum that is undergoing constant change, a lack of textbooks, and low salaries. This chapter contributes to the discussion of who beginning teachers are as learners, what they need to learn and how that learning can be fostered (FeimanNemser and Remillard 1996) with particular emphasis on how beginning teachers influence their own development and what kind of teachers they become. A better understanding of beginning teachers’ learning can help teacher educators do a better job of preparing future teachers (Olson and Osborne 1991). Through the case study of a beginner history teacher, this chapter explores all these issues within the unique framework of the systemic and socio-economic challenges to beginning teachers’ professional socialization in the context of post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan.