Overwhelmed or Classroom Ready? The role of school leadership in teacher wellbeing and transition to the classroom

Year: 2016

Author: Price, Deborah, McCallum, Faye

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Initial teacher education (ITE) continues to be held accountable for high standards of classroom ready graduates as identified by the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group (TEMAG) 2015 report. The 2015 ITE: data report by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) states that the:• total number of enrolled students in ITE increased in 2013 by 2%• adjusted retention rate for commencements (81%) was slightly higher than the adjusted retention rate across (80%), and• average success rate for the domestic cohort was 90%.Early career teacher responses to the Staff in Australia’s School survey in 2013 also indicated that the majority expected that teaching would be a lifetime career. They continue to experience transition challenges as they adjust to the workplace, attempt to accommodate school expectations and workloads, feel pressured in implementing school policy and curriculum, and feel high accountability for student learning outcomes. Thus, teacher wellbeing is increasingly affected by feelings of being overwhelmed, low self-confidence, and oscillating levels of motivation and energy. Teachers identify enablers to their wellbeing, often citing school leadership as an integral factor in their resilience.In this paper, ITE is compared nationally and internationally where two providers have integrated wellbeing education in teacher preparation courses. Applying a mixed-method iterative design, the influences of school leadership on teacher wellbeing and transition to the classroom will be presented. Purposeful sampling of participants include ITE graduates (one to five years) across Australian and British contexts and their responses to an anonymous online survey using quantitative and qualitative open ended questions. These early career teachers identify the significant impact of school leadership in contributing to teacher wellbeing ranging from feeling completely overwhelmed to inspired and energised. Such experiences have transformed school leadership responsibility for teacher wellbeing.AcknowledgementThis paper reports on findings of the University of South Australia, Divisional Research Performance Fund Project (2015), titled ‘Analysis of how pre-service teacher wellbeing initiatives influence teacher quality, transition, retention and student achievement.’ This is a joint project between University of South Australia (Dr Deborah Price), Southern Cross University (Prof Faye McCallum), St Mary’s University, Twickenham, London (Dr Jane Renowden, Dr Maureen Glackin, Ms Jane Chambers and Ms Anna Lise Gordon).