"If only I could just teach": Early career teachers, their colleagues, and the operation of power

Year: 2008

Author: McCormack, Ann, Gore, Jennifer

Type of paper: Refereed paper

The aim of this study was to examine aspects of teacher socialisation that occur in schools, but outside the classroom, and their effects on early career teachers' induction experiences, professional growth and retention. Institutional aspects of socialisation such as organisational, school and community culture and induction practices as well as personal and social-professional factors were investigated and the impact of power relations in these situations analysed.

The study involved a sample of 27 teachers who were in their first three years of teaching and working in a range of school contexts in the state of New South Wales, Australia. The study utilised questionnaires and interviews to gather data which were coded and analysed for common themes in terms of the project's main aim and research questions. Foucault's techniques of power, as adapted by Gore (1995), were used as a framework to analyse the micro-level functioning of power relations in the socialisation and professional growth of these early career teachers through categorising as well as contextualising the interview data.

The results from this study highlighted the underlying role that power plays in the induction of early career teachers. The need to conform to the school culture in terms of pedagogy and social-professional relationships (Kelchtermans & Ballet, 2002), presented major challenges to these teachers as they sought to achieve self confidence, respect, and recognition whilst negotiating micro-level power relations.