Telling tales: Stories from new teachers in country schools

Year: 2002

Author: Williams, Cheryl

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The focus on recruitment and retraining schemes can often overshadow the issue of retention of teachers in schools (Adams, 2001). Merrow (1999) noted, "the teaching pool keeps losing water because no one is paying attention to the leak. That is we're misdiagnosing the problem as 'recruitment' when it's really 'retention'". Research findings from studies of new teachers undertaken by the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers (PNGT) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and by the NSW Department of Education'sTraining and Development Directorate (Carter 2000), support Merrow's observation. A recognition of the changing nature of teachers' career plans, the need for professional development strategies such as systematic school-based induction and the implementation of effective supervision and mentoring programs (Ramsey 2000, Ingersoll 2000,Carter 2000), could assist schools in retaining their newly appointed teachers, particularly in country/rural areas.

A research study aimed at understanding and interpreting the imagined, real and reflective experiences of new teachers in their first year of appointment in country schools may assist policy-makers, teacher educators and schools in perceiving new ways of both recruiting and retaining newly appointed teachers, through a professional support strategy of new teacher learning. In my dual roles as a doctoral research student and Academic Associate for a school district in country NSW, I intend to undertake this project to examine the lives and experiences of newly appointed teachers in country schools. The 'tales they tell' explores the notion that the school site is 'where teachers must find success and satisfaction. It is there they will decide whether or not to continue to teach' (PNGT 2001). This paper discusses the background to the study and proposals for its scope and impact on the retention of newly appointed teachers in country NSW schools.