Penn State Libraries Open Publishing
School of Education
The problem of attrition among early-career teachers has generated a substantial body of research. However, less research has been devoted to later-career teachers who survive and thrive. This article explores the career experiences of four later-career performing arts teachers who remain keen and committed to teaching. Informed by seminal studies by Huberman (1989, 1993) and Day and Gu (2007, 2009) into teacher career trajectories, and using a phenomenological ‘lens’ of portraiture methodology, members of the research team undertook a series of in-depth interviews to gain insight into how these teachers maintain their positivity and commitment to teaching. Four key themes emerged: the fundamental influence of social networks, the ability to recognise and embrace one’s strengths, the importance of being adaptable in maintaining relevance and social responsibility, and understanding the difference one makes to the lives of students. Findings highlight the key mechanisms by which these later-career teachers rationalise and maintain their enthusiasm. Given they are not fixed, articulating these mechanisms as attributes to be encouraged, practiced, nurtured, and developed among all teachers may be the overall key finding of this study.
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