Sustaining the commitment and realising the potential of highly promising teachers

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Cameron, M
Lovett, S
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The Teachers of Promise study has followed the work histories of 57 primary and secondary teachers who had been identified at the beginning of their third year of teaching as having the potential to make a significant contribution to the profession. Using data from surveys and interviews, this paper reports on what sustained or inhibited their initial commitment to and enthusiasm for ‘making a difference’, six years later, both in the classroom and in broader school leadership roles. Satisfaction with their day-to-day experiences in their schools was a particularly strong driver of teachers’ career decisions over time. Thirty-four teachers responded to survey items that were used to identify three different groups of teachers: a group of 10 primary school teachers with the highest levels of job satisfaction who were ‘fulfilling their promise’; a group of 21 primary and secondary teachers who were ‘persevering and coping’; and three teachers who were ‘detached and disengaged’. The group with the highest levels of job satisfaction taught in primary schools where they felt respected and valued, and supported to develop their teaching and leadership expertise. School leadership practices and school cultures in the other two groups diminished teachers’ overall job satisfaction and contribution to collective knowledge building in their schools. Almost all of the teachers had retained their commitment to students, to their current schools and to teaching as a career, including those with lower levels of satisfaction. Although these teachers reported ‘collegial’ relationships with their peers, individualistic school cultures, most often in secondary schools, impacted on their opportunities to learn with and from their colleagues. Few secondary school teachers felt appreciated, and included in school decision-making or had found it possible to combine high standards of classroom teaching with management responsibilities. The study indicates that while most promising teachers were still satisfied with teaching after nine years, relatively few were in schools where they were able to make the impact that had been predicted for them early in their careers.

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Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice

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Specialist studies in education

Specialist studies in education not elsewhere classified

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