Conditions that support early career teacher resilience

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Australian Teacher Education Association


Faculty of Education and Arts


School of Education / Fogarty Learning Centre




Johnson, B., Down, B., Le Cornu, R., Peters, J., Sullivan, A., Pearce, J., & Hunter, J. (2010). Conditions that support early career teacher resilience. Proceedings of Teacher Education for a Sustainable Future. (pp. 10p). Townsville, Qld. Australian Teacher Education Association. Available here


There are serious concerns around the sustainability of teaching and teacher education 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; DETE, 2005). 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 between the University of South Australia, Murdoch University, Edith Cowan University and eight stakeholder organisations including employer groups and unions in South Australia and Western Australia. The aim of this study is 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 drawing on the traditions of narrative enquiry and critical ethnography. In 2009, 59 beginning teachers from the two states were interviewed at the beginning and end of the year. Towards the end of the year interviews were also held with a member of the leadership team in their schools. Data were also collected from a series of Roundtables held in each of the two states and attended by representatives from stakeholder groups. NVivo8 was used to manage a thematic approach to data analysis. Preliminary analysis has identified five major themes or domains that support early career teacher resilience. The themes relate to (a) relationships, (b) school culture, (c) teacher identity, (d) teachers’ work, and (e) system policies and practices. In this paper, we present these themes as a framework that can be used to examine policies, practices and resources that promote early career teacher resilience