The search for marigolds: Positive veteran teachers and why social support matters

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice


Taylor & Francis


School of Education




Jefferson, S., Lowe, G. M., Gray, C., & Prout, P. (2023). The search for marigolds: Positive veteran teachers and why social support matters. Teachers and Teaching, 29(2), 150-163.


There is limited research into older teachers (veterans), especially those who remain enthusiastic and committed to teaching. Still less is known about the role of social support from colleagues inside school in helping positive veteran teachers maintain their commitment to teaching. Drawing broadly from a typology which identifies four types of social support (emotional, instrumental, informational and appraisal), this article reports on a series of interviews with positive veteran teachers. It explores the role of support using the lens of this typology, and discusses emergent themes in relation to it. The findings highlight how positive veteran teachers deliberately seek out positive colleagues and the professional nature of these social supports, and how reciprocal support from colleagues in turn helps these teachers maintain their enthusiasm and engagement for the profession. Given a federally mandated increase in the retirement age and looming teacher shortage with so many new teachers entering the profession, the findings are timely and have implications for teacher well being and school leadership.



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