Early career teachers perceptions of becoming quality teachers

Year: 2014

Author: Anna, Sullivan, Peter, Arnold

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Although few would dispute the need for quality teachers, what is meant by ‘quality' is far from straightforward.  Over the last three decades, a socially-conservative, neoliberal discourse has substantially shaped views of what constitutes a quality teacher. The focus on quality has been driven by a standards agenda that seeks to identify the hallmarks of good teaching in line with stages of career progression. This agenda has created particular dilemmas for early career teachers. Much research has investigated reasons why 25% to 40% of teachers leave the profession within their first five years in the profession (e.g. Manuel, 2003; Wang, Odell, & Schwille, 2008) and emerging research has begun to examine why other teachers stay (e.g. Fantilli & McDougall, 2009; Johnson et al., 2014 - forthcoming). However, little is known about how the ‘best' teachers are retained. This paper reports on the first phase of a study that sought high achieving graduate teachers' views on what school leaders do to retain quality teachers. In particular, it sought to investigate their perceptions of ‘quality' at different stages of the attraction, recruitment and retention process. The findings indicate that the notion of a ‘quality teacher' is dynamic and contextual, and connected to professional identity formation. They show that high achieving early career teachers are micropolitically savvy in their quest to ‘become' quality teachers. We problematise the educative, political, social and economic ideologies which compete for a voice in shaping teacher quality and argue that a broader conceptualisation of teacher quality is needed, rather than the one that current public policy permits. Fantilli, R. D., & McDougall, D. E. (2009). A study of novice teachers: Challenges and supports in the first years. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25(6), 814-82 Johnson, B., Down, B., Le Cornu, R., Peters, J., Sullivan, A. M., Pearce, J., & Hunter, J. (2014 - forthcoming). Promoting early career teacher resilience: A framework for understanding and acting. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice. Manuel, J. (2003). Such are the Ambitions of Youth: Exploring issues of retention and attrition of early career teachers in New South Wales. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 31(2), 139. doi: 10.1080/0955236032000108538 Wang, J., Odell, S. J., & Schwille, S. A. (2008). Effects of teacher induction on beginning teachers' teaching: A critical review of the literature. Journal of Teacher Education, 59(2), 132-152.