Establishing a Teacher identity


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“What sort of teacher will I be?”
“What does the future hold for me?”

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  • Today, I’m going to focus on what it takes to successfully establish your identity as a Teacher in the first few years of your career.
  • While we are discussing this, you may take some inspiration from one of these images which portray many different types of teachers.
  • In this diagram created by Graham & Phelps, you can see the whole range of skills that you as a teacher are expected to develop. What I think it so important about this diagram is the aspect of reflection which is linked to every area of our teaching.
  • Yes, it all sounds a little overwhelming, especially as we are attempting to find our own identity as a new teacher. Research shows that these pressures are a major contributor to early teacher attrition.
  • So…. We are going to look at some of the obstacles faced by beginning students strategies and follow that up with some strategies to build your healthy teaching identity.
  • So why is this teacher attrition rate so high in the early years of teaching? I’m going to present some results of interviews with beginning teachers conducted in Australia by Ewing and Manuel(2005) and Richardson (2007). Their research shows:
  • Research by Richardson, 2007 conducted interviews with new teachers which indicated that:They found graduate teachers often experience difficulty establishing themselves in the school culture – developing interpersonal relations with colleagues, students and parents.They found relationships with established teachers were not particularly relaxed in the first year. Graduates felt like they needed to “cope with their own problems” and they also felt as though they were not viewed as being on an equal status with other teaching staff and felt there was little feedback to enable them to “feel valued” as professionals.Ewing and Manual found most graduates observed that they needed more opportunities to talk about and reflect on their practice.
  • Deficit Teacher Talk - And we’ve talked about this when we have been discussing our own experiences on Prac
  • Because of the attrition rate of new teachers, there have been a number of research investigations conducted by various universities. I am going to discuss the Keeping Cool project and the pretty cool website which supports it.
  • The Keeping Cool site provides :Beginning Teacher SupportHints for negotiating with parents and colleagues and Curriculum support and a variety of tips for beginning teachers
  • Building resilience in the key..
  • How can we work at effectively building resilience?It is a quality we can work onPositive interactions in our environment are essential to building resilience. I have seen this in action within our own class as colleagues provide support for each other throughout tutorials, around assessments and when someone appears a little overwhelmed.And it’s very true that what may appear challenging to one person can be a delightful experience for another.
  • How do we continue to build and maintain strong resiliencyHealthy self-efficacy is essential and this can be enhanced by our perceptions of success – nature and quality of feedback from colleagues / administration And our emotional wellbeing
  • Teacher stress and burn out affects the whole school community (including students)
  • However, this may not always be forthcoming and may take many forms, some fairly casual. One of the strong points continually repeated in the research is that Mentors should be trained and that mentoring programs should be more structured with mentors and beginning teachers provided with time to talk and reflect.
  • The learning Place provides and excellent introduction for new teachers.Here you will find tools such as:Flying Start Induction ToolkitNetwork meetings for new teachersSome information on the mentoring program which should by organised by your school. Ensure you ask for a mentor – take a look at this website and see what they should be doing for you.It takes personal courage to genuinely acknowledge your weaknesses and reflect on your teaching practices. As Graham and Phelps (2003, p. 5) state reflective practice also leads us to question ‘why’ and ‘what for’ and as a consequence provides us with a deeper understanding of being a teacher.
  • Queensland College of Teachers provides a ‘Beginning to Teach’ website with link to a range of resources for the new teacher.
  • I hope that you will use some of these tools to
  • Establishing a Teacher identity

    1. 1. 2. What are the expectations? 4. How do we overcome perceived obstacles and build1. Reflect on our resilience? teaching identity? 3. What are some barriers or obstacles?
    2. 2. Graham & Phelps, 2003
    3. 3. But wait….there’s more?• Regular planning, assessments, marking and reporting• Continually evolving pedagogy and policy development• Rapid development in ICTs• Preparing IEPs for a diverse range of learners• Emotional demands – behaviour management / counselling social work• Playground duty• Extra curricular activities ie sports manager or coach, debating, stamp collecting?• Regular team, curriculum, subject , year level meetings• Professional development• Parent/Teacher interviews• Attending school events – fundraisers, drama performances etc• And the list goes on…………………………….……
    4. 4. Plan to not become a statistic!!!Current figures are not available :However….In 2003, the Department of Education, Science and Technology reportedthere was up to a 25% attrition rate amongst early career teachers (Owen,Kos & McKenzie, 2008 ).In 2005, the OECD reported between a 25% to 40% teacher attrition rateduring the first three to five years occurs in many countries in the WesternWorld.
    5. 5. Why? Ewing & Manuel (2005)
    6. 6. Richardson (2007)
    7. 7. Retain your identity and …… your passion for teachingThe research team involved in the Keeping Cool project are academic staffmembers lecturing in Education at Murdoch University (Western Australia),Curtin University of Technology (Western Australia) and RWTH AachenUniversity (Germany).The project emerged as the members of the research team shared a concernabout the significant attrition rate of early career teachers and wereinterested in how teachers could develop resilience to deal with thechallenges of the profession.
    8. 8. How do we maintain a positive, professional identity? Key ideas mentioned on the “Keeping Cool “website guide our understanding of what resilience can mean for a teacher as well as the issues which can impact on our resilience. Resilience can be defined as the "process of, capacity for, or outcome of successful adaptation despite challenging or threatening circumstances" (Masten, Best & Garmezy, 1990, p. 425).
    9. 9. How we successful adapt in challenging or threatening circumstances can be determined by a number of other factors:1) Firstly, resilience is not a quality that is innate or fixed. It can be learned and acquired2) Personal characteristics, competence and the influences of socialisation and the environment in which the individual works and lives, all interactively contribute to the process of resilience building3) Finally, the recognition that resilience manifests itself in different ways. Example: What is perceived as challenging for one person, may not be for another, and likewise, how individuals display resilience may differ.
    10. 10.  Healthy self-efficacy is essential to maintain strong resiliency  Perceptions of success – nature and quality of feedback from colleagues / administration  Emotional wellbeing Evans, D. (2010)
    11. 11. Well Teachers, well students Teacher stress and burn out affects the whole school community (including students)We must be self-aware of our own wellbeing  Connect and communicate with colleagues (eg working in teams) . It is essential that we establish supportive and productive communities – have the confidence to ask for help.  Realistic awareness that we are going to have less time available to us, particularly in the initial stages of our careers  Contribute to decision making, policy development and school activities to provide us with a sense of belonging  Foster healthy classroom relationships with students and parents  Set goals, reflect regularly and take time-out for personal relaxation McCallum & Price (2010)
    12. 12. Graduate Teachers- know what your school can do for you.
    13. 13. Queensland College of Teachers
    14. 14. “This is a complex, demanding job and there are still bad days and good days – days when you know you could have done better and days when you have a breakthrough moment with one of your students. I still find it hard to describe the feeling you get when you teach a child something - it is so rewarding.”Alf D’Arsie - (38 years experience )currently at KeithcottFarm Primary School, SA
    15. 15. BibliographyMasten, A., Best, K., & Garmezy, N. (1990). Resilience and development: Contributions from the study of childrenwho overcome adversity. Development and Psychopathology, 2, 425-444.Ewing, R. & Manuel, J. (2005), Retaining quality early career teachers in the profession: new teacher narratives.Change: Transformations in Education, 8(1), 1-16. Retrieved onAugust 13, 2011, from, S., Kos, J. & McKenzie, P. (2008). Teacher workface data and planning processes in Australia. Canberra:Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. Retrieved on August 13, 2011 from for Keeps (2010). uniSA Magazine, Spring, p. 9. Retrieved on August 11, 2011, from, Beginning and Establishing Teachers Community (2011), The Learning Place. Retrieved on August 02,2011, from us. (2011). Keeping Cool : Building Teachers Resilience. Retrieved on August 03, 2011, from, F. & Price, D. (2010). Well teachers, well students. Journal of Student Wellbeing, 4(1), 19-34. Retrievedon August 04, 2011, from the Informit databaseRichardson, E. (2007). ‘Trust me kids, I’m a teacher”: Building a teacher identity. Australian Association forResearch in Education. Retrieved on August 04, 2011, from the Informit database.