Performing ‘teacher’: Exploring early career teachers’ becomings, work identities and the [mis-]use of the professional standards in competitive educational assemblages
Pedagogy, Culture and Society
Taylor & Francis
School of Education
This paper explores the relationship between early career teachers’ (ECTs) work identities, neoliberal education assemblages, and mandated professional standards. The task of supporting and retaining beginning teachers has received considerable attention in recent years in the face of alarming rates of teacher attrition internationally. The study, undertaken in Western Australia, explores how ECTs construct identities in response to competitive educational discourses, high levels of individual stress, insecure employment, excessive work-loads and limited formal support. The Australian Professional Standards are an example of ‘organisational learning’ that aims to support ECTs. However, our research suggests that in practice a managerial ‘tick the box’ approach to addressing the Standards renders them ineffective. We consider how embodied teacher identities are moulded in neoliberal secondary schools through concepts of performativity. This paper concludes that the performing arts can offer creative, collaborative and impassioned approaches to encouraging authentic teacher identities to support and retain ECTs.