"Trust me kids, I'm a teacher": Learning about teacher identity

Year: 2007

Author: Richardson, Emma

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This study intensively follows a group of teachers through their first and into their second year of teaching in State Secondary Schools in the Australian state of Victoria (N=4 year 1, N=3 year 2). Despite similarities in school contexts, these teachers presented diverse stories: they dealt very differently with the challenges they faced in establishing their identities with students and in the wider school community. Teachers talked about seeking collaborative experiences and establishing support networks, where they pursued reassurance and encouragement. Clarity about who they were as a teacher developed over the time of the study, as did examples of professional growth and learning.

Issues of induction are examined, with reflections on the mandated Victorian Institute of Teaching program, teachers' experiences of formal and informal mentoring, challenges of assessment and reporting, classroom management and discipline, coping with workload, and future career aspirations. The author's own career journey has strongly influenced this study: through association with the Victorian Institute of Teaching she is involved in the development and facilitation of government policy around beginning teachers. The paper reaches conclusions and makes suggestions for induction and mentoring programs, policy, and teacher education, which have general application for the teaching profession in Australia.