A Distinct Form of Professionalism?

Year: 2007

Author: Keay, Jeanne

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Induction into teaching has historically been problematic and in the last decade Government policy in England has attempted to address the issue through legislation. Teachers have been required to fulfil an induction period during which they are entitled to support, monitoring and assessment. However, while the provision of these statutory components is important, their provision does not necessarily guarantee continued professional development and indeed in some cases may actually preclude learning. This paper uses data from a longitudinal piece of research with new teachers in secondary schools to examine barriers to, and influences on, early professional learning. The paper addresses two themes, first the nature of professional development during induction, which appears to promote merely adequate performance, and second, the influence of small communities on professional learning, which can be both positive and negative. The discussion considers research with new teacher educators which revealed similar findings and asks whether teachers promote a distinct form of professionalism. Specifically, the paper examines the following issues:

• The influence of prior professional knowledge in transferring to a different professional phase;
• The influence of teachers’ professional learning communities;
• The impact of phased use of formal and informal professional development activities during induction.

The forms of professionalism identified through this analysis are sometimes flexible and always practical. Practical professional knowledge and autonomy is promoted but evidence suggests that the profession is insular and lacks ambition.