The Teachers of Promise study (2005-2011) was a longitudinal study of 57 promising new primary and secondary teachers from their third to seventh years of teaching. The research aimed to uncover the factors that sustained and developed the commitment of a group of highly “promising” teachers over time — from their initial teacher education programmes, throughout their induction period and the following six years of teaching. Teachers shared their perspectives on the factors that helped them make a good start (or otherwise) in their careers and assisted them to build their teaching expertise and that of their colleagues. We chose to focus on this period because:
- provisionally registered teachers have been, and are currently the focus of other studies
- this is the period when teachers typically make critical decisions about their careers such as whether to stay in teaching, to advance up the career ladder, or to continue with professional learning; and
- research demonstrates that teachers play a critical role in students' enjoyment and engagement in school, and their success as learners, so it matters how well teachers are prepared, mentored and supported as early career teachers.
Participants were interviewed in 2005, 2006 and 2011, and surveys were undertaken in the same years. The surveys from 2006 onwards included versions for those who had left teaching or who were teaching overseas. We asked them to reflect on:
- the reasons they decided to become teachers
- their expectations and experiences in their programmes of initial teacher education
- the support and challenges they experienced in their provisional registration period
- the opportunities they had to develop greater expertise as teachers
- the types of workplace cultures that supported their on-going learning
- the opportunities they had to contribute to the development of their colleagues
- their early experiences of leadership roles
- the factors that kept them in their schools (and the reasons that they left)
- their career aspirations
- Teachers were attracted to teaching because they wanted a career that enabled them to make a positive contribution to the lives and learning of children and young people.
- Strong teacher preparation was linked to the ability to manage the challenges and setbacks inherent in the early years of teaching.
- Strong and supportive induction practices provided a strong foundation for beginning teaching.
- The quality of induction reflected a school’s understanding of: how best to support adult learning, its workplace organisation, culture and commitment to building the school as a learning organisation.
- School leaders strongly influenced the school conditions that sustained new teacher satisfaction and expanded their ongoing expertise
- Induction was often limited to the classroom, department or school rather than to the profession of teaching.
- Primary teachers were much more likely than their secondary colleagues to have worked in supportive and collaborative working environments.
- The school practices that have been shown to most enhance teacher expertise (observation, feedback, collaboration with colleagues) were those that many teachers reported as occurring infrequently or not at all.
- This group of teachers, when faced with working conditions that did not enable them to make the contribution they sought, tended not to leave teaching, but they moved to more collaborative schools.
- After several years in teaching, teachers who worked in supportive and knowledge building schools sustained their initial enthusiasm for teaching and were contributing to their schools and wider educational communities.
- Teachers who worked in less supportive environments (individualistic work cultures, lack of involvement in school decisions that affected them, lack of appreciation for their work) were unlikely to demonstrate the potential that had been predicted for them.
- Their conceptions of leadership varied. Some were not attracted to formal leadership roles because this meant moving away from classroom teaching, their main source of job satisfaction, namely, making a difference to students.
- The decision to seek or accept a leadership role was influenced by the leadership practices teachers experienced in their schools.
- Those who thrived in their leadership roles were able to demonstrate a close connection between leadership and learning.
Throughout the project we produced newsletters and publication which are shown below.
Funded by the Purchase Agreement with the Ministry of Education