10 SES 11 D, Politics and Recognition for Beginning Teachers
As the ECER program theme suggests, the continued prevalence of social, political, and cultural transformation throughout Europe and the world heightens the need for research on educational reform at all levels of teaching practice. Educational researchers can further this aim by producing research and constructing knowledge concerned with navigating political complexity and embodying democratic values in educational environments. Beginning teachers’ experiences negotiating the contested nature of educational institutions are of particular relevance to educators interested in ensuring the professional longevity and retention of teachers around the world. How novices construct meaning from politically contested conflicts and use authority, both formally and informally, to achieve their goals within the organizational context of schools, is of particular relevance to educators concerned with maximizing teachers’ professional engagement. The purpose of this paper is to present findings from an investigation of beginning teachers’ micropolitical experiences in two countries, with particular attention to the implications of beginning teachers’ experiences for teacher educators and the pedagogical practices they implement in teacher education settings.
The quest to keep beginning teachers teaching, reverse prevailing trends towards teacher attrition, and increase teachers’ capacity to skillfully navigate the complex political realities of schools is perhaps best embodied by the concept of micropolitical literacy (Kelchtermans & Ballet, 2002a). Micropolitical literacy refers to the process of learning to comprehend, interpret, and act upon the varied strategies and tactics used by individuals and groups to advance their interests in organizational contexts. Such interests, which may be pursued through actions characterized by conflict and/or collaboration and coalition-building to achieve individual or shared goals, are particularly pronounced in times of change. The manner in which educators themselves contribute to their organizations’ political cultures and influence others through employing resources of power and authority to advance their interests constitutes the domain of school micropolitics (Ball, 1987).
Conducting research into beginning teachers’ micropolitical experiences is particularly important in Europe since many countries are emerging democracies with fragile educational reforms (Breca & Anderson, 2010). Due to unstable economic and political contexts, transitioning to more democratic forms of organizational citizenship is both needed and desired (Koshmanova & Ravchyna, 2008). Educators can help create such a reality by further developing their pedagogical skill, knowledge, and perspective. Together with students, parents, and administrators, teachers can learn to live more congruently with democratic principles and values in school contexts (Zogla, 2001). Doing so may help undo troubling trends in teacher development and retention documented in countries like Belgium (Struyven & Vanthournout, 2014), Germany (Richter et al., 2013), and Ireland (Long, Hall, Conway, & Murphy, 2012).
We know very little, however, about how beginning teachers navigate, construct meaning from, and develop their micropolitical literacy in school contexts. While micropolitical analyses have been conducted on such topics as teacher induction (Kelchtermans & Ballet, 2002b), development (Kelchtermans & Ballet, 2002a), mentoring (Achinstein, 2006), and community (Warner, Brown, & Lindle, 2010), they have not been sufficiently applied to how novice educators themselves contribute to and make sense of their immediate political cultures. We know even less about how beginners’ experiences navigating the political complexity of their organisational contexts compare across national contexts. Such insights are necessary for informing processes of developing pedagogies of teacher education (Loughran, 2006) concerned with cultivating micropolitical literacy. The following question was therefore investigated in this study: how did eighteen beginning teachers in the USA and Australia construct meaning from politically contested conflicts in their teaching?
Achinstein, B. (2006). New teacher and mentor political literacy: Reading, navigating and transforming induction contexts. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 12(2), 123-138. Ball, S. (1987). The micropolitics of the school: Towards a theory of school organization. London: Methuen. Birks, M., & Mills, J. (2012). Grounded theory: A practical guide. Los Angeles: Sage. Breca, S., & Anderson, K. (2010). The transition-reform dilemma: Kosovo -- emerging democracy and resistance factors at its Faculty of Education. Interchange, 41(2), 185-200. Brubaker, N. D. (2015). Critical moments in negotiating authority: Grading, accountability and teacher education. Teaching Education, 26(2), 222-246. Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L. (1999). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. New York, NY: Aldine de Gruyter. Kelchtermans, G., & Ballet, K. (2002a). Micropolitical literacy: Reconstructing a neglected dimension in teacher development. International Journal of Educational Research, 37, 755-767. Kelchtermans, G., & Ballet, K. (2002b). The micropolitics of teacher induction: A narrative-biographical study on teacher socialisation. Teaching & Teacher Education, 18, 105-120. Koshmanova, T., & Ravchyna, T. (2008). Teacher preparation in a post-totalitarian society: An interpretation of Ukrainian teacher educators' stereotypes. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 21(2), 137-158. Long, F., Hall, K., Conway, P., & Murphy, R. (2012). Novice teachers as 'invisible' learners. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 18(6), 619-636. Loughran, J. (2006). Developing a pedagogy of teacher education: Understanding teaching and learning about teaching. New York: Routledge. Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research & evaluation methods. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. Richter, D., Kunter, M., Ludtke, O., Klusmann, U., Anders, Y., & Baumert, J. (2013). How different mentoring approaches affect beginning teachers' development in the first years of practice. Teaching & Teacher Education, 36, 166-177. Struyven, K., & Vanthournout, G. (2014). Teachers' exit decisions: An investigation into the reasons why newly qualified teachers fail to enter the teaching profession or why those who do enter do not continue teaching. Teaching & Teacher Education, 43, 37-45. Tillema, H., & Kremer-Hayon, L. (2005). Facing dilemmas: Teacher-educators' ways of constructing a pedagogy of teacher education. Teaching in Higher Education, 10(2), 203-217. Tripp, D. (1993). Critical incidents in teaching: Developing professional judgement. New York: Routledge. Warner, W. M., Brown, M. W., & Lindle, J. C. (2010). Micropolitics, community identity, and school consolidation. Journal of School Public Relations, 31, 303-318. Zogla, I. (2001). Democratisation in Latvian education: Teachers' attitudinal change. European Journal of Teacher Education, 24(2), 143-156.
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