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Ako*: Being a teacher, being a learner, being part of a learning profession

Marie Cameron, Jennifer Garvey Berger, Susan Lovett, and Robyn Baker

*Ako is a Māori Language term for both teaching and learning

This paper reports findings from the Teachers of Promise (ToP) project currently underway in New Zealand that seeks to understand the development of teachers as learners and contributors to the profession. We explore the learning opportunities of a group of 57 “teachers of promise” from their third year of teaching. These teachers were identified by initial teacher educators and schools as teachers that their colleagues hoped would stay in teaching because of what they had to offer students and schools. Our research is intended to highlight the early career experiences of a group of new teachers to explore the conditions that not only keep them from leaving, but that encourage them to develop their expertise as teachers.

We examine their motivations and opportunities to deepen and strengthen their learning, both inside and outside their classrooms, and identify characteristics of workplace learning environments that positively shape teachers’ learning. To date the study shows that teachers have been prepared to change schools when their workplaces did not provide the support they expected to help them become successful teachers. Teachers report that their working conditions determine to a large extent their opportunities to learn from their teaching and from their colleagues, as well as their enjoyment and satisfaction in their choice of career. The authors argue that policy makers, teacher educators, principals, and school leaders, and boards of trustees must put teacher learning on their priority list for our educational goals to be realized.

Paper presented at the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), Chicago, 9 April 2007.

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Conference paper
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Jennifer Garvey Berger
Robyn Baker
Susan Lovett