Listening to our best: Making way for passionate veteran teachers to model and lead excellence in effective teaching, learning, and assessment
International Academy of Technology, Education and Development (IATED)
School of Education
The purpose of this paper is to describe a qualitative research study of veteran teachers who have remained passionate, motivated, and engaged in their teaching, specifically focusing on their social connections in and out of school. Identifying and utilizing the adaptive strategies of effective veteran teachers is of great importance given reported high attrition rates from the profession (up to 50% of teacher graduates in some studies), and the disruption caused by absenteeism, disengagement, poor performance, and loss of corporate knowledge along with the constant need to induct and assist new teachers. Other costs include increased healthcare costs and mental health claims for education systems and sectors. Thus, identifying, acknowledging, and utilizing the positive coping strategies of effective veteran teachers is of benefit not just to the teaching profession but to the wider community. The participants were over forty years old with at least twenty-five years’ teaching experience. Ten teachers from Australia and the United States who have been called "the best" by their administrators and fellow teachers were interviewed to ascertain common traits that can serve as a framework for providing professional development to assist teachers in the work force, as well as bring their expertise to national reform activities in their respective countries. The following themes emerged: (1) social connections are vital to teachers for their ongoing collegial support; (2) teachers thrive under leadership that initiates and encourages close social connections among teaching staff; (3) in the absence of support from school leadership, positive veteran teachers adapt and form their own strong collegial relationships; (4) family members and close friends are anchors in their physical and emotional well-being; (5) students are also key to their emotional health and enthusiasm. These themes can become the cornerstone for preparing effective professional development programs.