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DOI

10.14221/ajte.2013v38n4.4

Abstract

There are serious concerns around the sustainability of teaching given the attrition rate of early career teachers. In Western countries we know that between 25% and 40% of beginning teachers are likely to leave the teaching profession in the first 5 years (Ewing & Smith, 2003; Day & Gu, 2010). Clearly, there is a need to better understand the experiences of early career teachers and to investigate, in new ways, how the problem of teacher attrition can be addressed. This paper is based on a collaborative qualitative research project funded by the Australian Research Council that aimed to investigate the dynamic and complex interplay among individual, relational and contextual conditions that operate over time to promote early career teacher resilience.

The methodology for the study was a critical enquiry. The data for the study came from interviews with 60 beginning teachers and their principals. Five main ‘Conditions for Resilience’ emerged from the analysis: relationships; school culture; teacher identity; teachers’ work; and policies and practices (Johnson, Down, Le Cornu, Peters, Sullivan, Pearce & Hunter, 2010). This article focuses on the first theme – relationships. It illuminates the role that sustainable and mutually sustaining relationships play in the development of early career teachers. Jordan’s (2006) model of relational resilience – with its characteristics of mutuality, empowerment and the development of courage - is used as a conceptual framework for discussing the insights from the study.

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Link to publisher version (DOI)

10.14221/ajte.2013v38n4.4