Committed teachers, passionate teachers: The dimension of passion associated with teacher commitment and engagement

Year: 2004

Author: Crosswell, Leanne, Elliott, Bob

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Teacher commitment has been identified as one of the most critical factors for the future success of education and schools (Huberman, 1993). Teacher commitment is closely connected to teachers' work performance and their ability to innovate and to integrate new ideas into their own practice, absenteeism, staff turnover, as well as having an important influence on students' achievement in, and attitudes toward school (Firestone, 1996; Graham, 1996; Louis, 1998; Nias, 1981; Tsui & Cheng, 1999). The traditional view of teacher commitment considers it to refer to external referents. However, there is a growing body of literature that draws a strong connection between teacher commitment and the very intimate element of passion for the work of teaching (Day, 2004; Elliott & Crosswell, 2001; Fried, 1995). This paper first discusses the traditional view of teacher commitment and then uses the findings from an Australian study to investigate the idea that an individuals' personal passion for teaching is central to their on-going commitment to, and engagement with the profession.

The level of teachers’ commitment is considered to be as a key factor in the success of current educational reform agenda as it heavily influences teachers’ willingness to engage in cooperative, reflective and critical practice. Thus, the findings of this paper are particularly significant for school leaders as they engage teachers in school initiatives and educational reform, and teachers themselves as they struggle to find a balance between the personal and the professional.