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Early career teachers: Messages from the Teachers of Promise Study. Marie Cameron New Zealand Council for Educational Research Susan Lovett University of Canterbury Core Breakfast series 6 November 2012 Christchurch. Why does this research matter?.

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Early career teachers messages from the teachers of promise study

Early career teachers: Messages from the Teachers of Promise Study

Marie Cameron

New Zealand Council for Educational Research

Susan Lovett

University of Canterbury

Core Breakfast series

6 November 2012 Christchurch

Why does this research matter
Why does this research matter? Study

  • A quality teaching profession requires teachers to:

    • sustain their enthusiasm

    • expand their teaching expertise throughout their careers

    • become leaders themselves and grow the next generation of teachers

We need to understand
We need to understand: Study

  • why some good teachers:

    • sustain their commitment to teaching

    • invest in their teaching and careers

      while others:

    • get disillusioned/burn out

    • leave their jobs

    • what might be done to keep their passion alive and foster teaching quality

  • how best to to identify and nurture those with potential readiness for leadership roles

  • Teachers of promise study 2005 2011
    Teachers of Promise Study (2005-2011) Study

    • Longitudinal study of 57 “promising” primary & secondary teachers

    • Their views about:

      • the ups and downs of their early years of teaching

      • the impact of different school practices and working conditions

      • what contributes to their “pedagogical wellbeing”

      • the decisions they make ( stay, move, leave)

      • career progressions within teaching (extended roles, embracing or rejecting leadership roles)

    Data collection since 2005
    Data collection since 2005 Study

    • 4 interviews (2005 x 2, 2007, 2011)

    • 3 surveys in the same years

    • 2 workshops

    • Data for this presentation:

      • on-line surveys (48 responses)

      • Interviews (20 who were still teaching)

    Status of teachers in 2011
    Status of teachers in 2011 Study

    • 40 teachers still teaching in NZ schools (full or part-time)

    • 38 teachers gave classroom teaching as best description of their roles

    • 7 had left teaching

    • Most full time teachers were teaching plus leadership roles

    Movers 28 since 2008
    Movers (28) since 2008 Study

    • Only 5 moves were for career advancement

    • Personal reasons (12)

    • Not satisfied with their school’s leadership & management (10)

    • Unsatisfactory working conditions(6)

    • Wanted less challenging students to teach(3)

    Stayers 14
    Stayers (14) Study

    • Were “very happy” with choice of teaching as a career

    • Were satisfied with salaries

    • Had “expansive” opportunities for adult learning

      • Good school systems for sharing knowledge about teaching

      • Mentoring

      • Learning with colleagues outside their school

      • Encouragement for further formal learning (fees for study, study awards & teaching fellowships)

    held positive Studyviews of their principal’s leadership

    had positive working environments(across all decile levels)

    I am absolutely loving working in a New Zealand school again after having taught in London. I feel supported just the right amount, and left alone just the right amount too, to get on and do a good job. There is a good work/life balance encouraged and modelled at the school; teachers are respected and treated as professionals. (Jane, early 30s, primary)

    What keeps them in the job
    What keeps them in the job? Study

    I love the job. I love the diversity and I enjoy the challenges in the job (Barrie, 30-39, secondary school)

    Opportunities to learn more about my subject area, about teaching well, about relating well with students (growth) (Mac, 31-40, secondary school)

    Opportunity to continue learning, and being part of a community that focuses on children. (Isabella, 25-30, primary school)

    Being able to work alongside teachers and mentor them. My liaison with the university for student teachers is also rewarding (Robert, 30-39, assistant principal, middle school)

    Firstly, the job has its financial benefits after this long, so money keeps me in the job. Otherwise, I enjoy being with the children and being able to impact positively on their lives - academically and socially.(Kimberly, 41-50, intermediate)

    But many teachers needed 1
    But many teachers needed….(1) Study

    • more helpful feedback on their teaching

    • more adult collaborative learning

    • public recognition of their teaching (not just the “extras”)

    • more input into decisions that affected them

    • But many teachers needed…. (2) Study

    • their leaders to focus on the right things

    • There are lots and lots of factors that come into leadership in a school, and perhaps too many of them are considered too significant and take up too much time and energy when they’re not actually focused on students and learning. There are lots of distractions out there in [terms of] quite political aspects and things like that (Ruby, early 30s, secondary school)

    • Lack of academic focus from senior management, too much emphasis on the peripheral things (Degz, 31-40, secondary school)

    • more consideration of teacher wellbeing Study

    • For the last two years there has been a problem with morale, with a general feeling that the senior management does not have the best interests of the teachers... sometimes the focus appears to be very strongly on how the school appears to aesthetically to the community rather than to focussing on real student achievement. ( Amanda, early 40s, primary)

    • Teachers needed.... (3) Study

    • time to share teaching knowledge and expertise

    • We need more release time for senior staff to develop curriculum because it’s a very busy place and there’s a tendency to revert back to type, the same old stuff without really having to think about it, and develop it and come up with some interesting stuff. There’s quite a bit that could be done but we don’t have time to be that creative or interesting. (Degz, 31-40, secondary school)

    Reasons for leaving 1
    Reasons for Leaving ...(1) Study

    • negative work cultures

      There is a “culture of fear” in my school, where some teachers feel afraid to make even the smallest mistake, for fear of losing their job and perhaps even having their careers tarnished ... Several teachers have been disciplined unnecessarily and in a way which has not maintained their mana or dignity, nor even allowed them to easily move on to another job. (Ajay, 20-39, secondary school teacher)

    Reasons for leaving... (2) Study

    • excessive administrative demands

      Paperwork has increased to phenomenal levels and the focus has moved away from the students and student learning to maintaining the paper trail which is not read.

      (James, 30-39, ex- intermediate)

  • workload

    My current role is 35 hours per week and when I go home that’s it. I do the occasional workshop on evenings or weekends but it is time in lieu.

    (Leanna, 41-50, ex-secondary, now in education role with City Council)

  • Reasons for leaving... (3) Study

    lack of work-life balance

    You need to have a life if you’re going to be an effective teacher. You can’t live the job, it is one of those jobs you could work 24 hours in a day and still have things to do. That’s what it feels like but I can’t effectively teach my kids how to live a proper life if I’m not living one myself … at the end of the day it is a job, it’s a very important job but it is a job and you need to have a life (Donald, early 30s, ex-primary school)

    teaching did not meet their career goals

    I think I could have remained as a teacher longer if I had more of a challenge and if I could see avenues for promotion. I did however love the students and the staff.(Elizabeth, early 30s, ex-secondary)

    Reasons for leaving... (4) Study

    loss of commitment

    I did envisage myself as a professional and getting as good as I could at my job … I don’t coach sport any more—I’m starting to catch that cynical disease that teachers get. Most days I’m out of there between 3.30 pm to 4.30 pm and I get to school around 8.15 am. If I really wanted to do my job with a high level of effectiveness, I’d be there earlier. But I’d rather leave at 4.00 pm and go to the gym. (Ajay, early 30s, secondary)

    Experiences of leadership
    Experiences of leadership Study

    • A management unit or release time was generally the only form of support provided

    • Little specific mentoring for leadership roles

      • general advice when needed (14)

      • significant mentoring for leadership roles (5)

      • primary teachers more likely to have received formal mentoring

    Supported aspiring leaders ... Study

    • had principals who:

      • focused leadership practices on learning

      • encouraged sharing of evidence-based research findings

      • set aside time for adults to work together/learn

      • provided good models of leadership

      • encouraged staff to extend their horizons

        He’s [principal] always provoking that next level of thinking in you and [he] doesn’t just accept the first response. I mean, he does that with everyone … And I guess it seems, looking back now, that he’s always had his eye on the next step for me. He saw that developing my leadership knowledge was where I really needed to go, and it’s been hugely beneficial.(Robert, intermediate school DP, early 30s)

    Supported aspiring leaders had opportunities to: Study

    • participate in professional networks outside school

    • lead other teachers (mentoring curriculum contracts)

    • engage in formal learning

      • learn how to coach and mentor

        One thing that came out of that [study] was the value of listening and using questioning effectively. Being an active listener is much more challenging than I appreciated before and I think now I’m much better atit.(Ruby, early 30s, secondary teacher)

        Therefore they were more likely to stay interested in leadership roles

    Unsupported emerging leaders: Study

    • were left to sink or swim

    • were not able to lead in the ways they wanted, e.g.

      You have to tell them what to do...

    • felt that they were unable to be effective in both teaching and leadership roles

    • experienced conflict about their role

      What do you do if intellectually and professionally you disagree with it [school decisions] and you think it is the wrong path?

      Could I stand up as a leader and be part of it?

      Steven (Secondary HOD)

  • I used to have ambitions to eventually seek a senior leadership role, at AP or DP level. However as my career has progressed that desire has died in the face of 1) a belief that I’m of greater value to the education system doing what I’m already doing, 2) a crisis of confidence that I could actually ever undertake such roles, and 3) a realisation that it’s not what you know. It’s who you know if one wishes to ‘get on’

  • (Steven, 30-39 HOD secondary)

  • What is needed system wide to sustain teacher enthusiasm
    What is needed system-wide to sustain teacher enthusiasm? Study

    From schools...

    • positive working environments(especially mentoring)

    • recognition for contributions

    • better management of workloads

    • involvement of teachers in school decisions

    • alignment between decisions and resourcing

      From others ...

    • change “negative and combative public discourse” around education and teachers’ work

    • increase incentives e.g. teacher scholarships, sabbaticals....

    What is needed system wide to expand teacher expertise
    What is needed system-wide to expand teacher expertise? Study

    From schools ...

    • observing good models

    • useful feedback on teaching

    • time to work with colleagues

    • strategic decisions about professional learning

    • opportunities for self directed learning

    • encouragement to join professional associations & external networks

    What is needed system wide to expand teacher expertise 2
    What is needed system-wide to expand teacher expertise? (2) Study

    From others ...

    • working with teachers from other schools

    • collaborative teacher research (resourced) with universities

    • financial acknowledgement for increases in teacher knowledge

    What is needed system wide to support the next generation of leaders
    What is needed system-wide to support the next generation of leaders?


    • build and retain capacity and capability to mentor staff at all levels

    • annual career planning support

    • financial support for leadership course fees

    • on-the-job mentoring for leadership roles

      • tutor teacher

      • mentor teacher for PRTs

      • project or team leadership

    What is needed system wide to support the next generation of leaders1
    What is needed system-wide to support the next generation of leaders?


    • develop a school leadership reference library

    • formal responsibility in job description for mentoring of new teachers and leaders

    • skill development for mentors e.g. QLC for mentors with an external facilitator

    • allocated time

    What is needed system wide to support the next generation of leaders2
    What is needed system-wide to support the next generation of leaders?

    From others...

    • career long leadership support programmes (equitable access) to cater for each type of leadership role

    • funded places on leadership development programmes

    • expanded opportunities for principal development

    • improve working conditions for school leaders

    • access to leadership libraries and web links for personal study

    Key conclusions
    Key conclusions leaders?

    • It is wasteful to ignore those with potential for leadership

    • Who has responsibility for growing the next generation of leaders?

      - individuals can only do so much

      - schools can only do so much

      - external agencies (e.g. MOE) can only do so much

    • Strong and positive relationships required between all sectors

    • Collective and shared agendas for action required