Education is entering an era of risk, facing challenges at various levels, for example, teaching quality, student achievement and policy implementation. The out-of-field teaching phenomenon impacts improvement efforts because of its multilayered implications for the teaching and learning environment. Out-of-field teaching is defined as teaching practices that fall outside a teacher’s field of qualification and/or expertise, whether in a specific subject or at a different year-level. Teachers teach out of field for a variety of reasons, many of which are embedded in workforce planning and management challenges and the changing priorities of education systems.
At present, within education systems globally, targeted policies to support the effective management of the phenomenon are absent, with little or no attention to interrelated social justice issues. The concern is what we expect from teachers and their school leaders in spite of the pandemic occurrence of the phenomenon in schools. In building a sound foundation for policies grounded in educational knowledge, the voices of out-of-field teachers and their school leaders are currently distant from the politics of educational policy making. I am concerned about the absence of fit-for-purpose policy strategies to address the various implications the out-of-field phenomenon has on school and classroom contexts and side with Stern (2012) while asking if there is tension in the discourse of education policy.
The paper highlights policy issues linked to the out-of-field teaching phenomenon, such as (a) the fairness of standard comparison assessments or appraisals of teachers assigned to out-of-field positions, (b) assigning beginning teachers to out-of-field positions, (c) professional support made available to teachers assigned to out-of-field positions, and (d) support school leaders receive to effectively manage the out-of-field teaching phenomenon in the learning and teaching environment. I argue that policies, as resources to support teachers and school leaders, have to acknowledge the existence and impact of the phenomenon and the need to effectively manage it. Bates (2013) claimed that a “significant flaw of systems thinking is the level of simplification at which policy-makers operate” (p. 38).
The paper highlights out-of-field teaching’s impact on education quality improvement efforts (Lingard, 2016) and critically analyses and reassesses (Johnson, 2013) leadership decisions regarding the management of the phenomenon. In agreement with Cuban (2019a, 2019b) I emphasise the value of tailored policies which I identify as micro-education policies. I define micro-education policies as a practice-policy process that offers a practical resource framework that can be constantly adjusted to support teachers in challenging and complex teaching situations such as out-of-field teaching positions. Caena (2014) examined how policy practices can translate into education reform to make a difference that is “beyond paying lip service to official policy discourse” (p. 311).
The unique needs that occur within specific contexts are captured through a Context-Conscious Understanding Development (C-CUD) theoretical framework (Du Plessis, 2019). The C-CUD theory acknowledges the complex teaching and learning space and how tailored policies can support teachers in these positions. Renewed attention to policy development regarding (a) the situation in which the issue occurs (Lave & Wenger, 1991), (b) what and who are influenced by specific lived experiences related to the issue (van Manen, 1990), (c) how this phenomenon impacts quality education (Vygotsky, 1978), and (d) how, ultimately, an in-depth understanding of the phenomenon can be developed (Gadamer, 1975, 1976/2008), underlined through this theoretical framework. School leaders’, educational directors’, parents’, and teachers’ (specialised and out-of-field) perspectives are highlighted against an international background, offering new insights in the policy discourse and the out-of-field teaching phenomenon. One-on-one semi-structured interviews presented opportunities to question various perceptions about the out-of-field phenomenon while revealing new, in-depth understanding. The hermeneutic phenomenological approach provided the researcher with tools to investigate the phenomenon beyond obvious concerns while offering a deeper apprehension of real-life experiences. These data lead to a better awareness of specific needs, in the light of which education policies can be reflected on in-depth and reassessed.
The empirical evidence offered in this paper is supported by research into the out-of-field teaching phenomenon and its implications for quality education and the stability of the teaching workforce (Du Plessis, 2017). Literature discussing the phenomenon’s occurrence has stretched over a few decades (see Ingersoll, 1998, 2006), however, its intersection with policy (Ingersoll, 2003), or an official acknowledgment of the lived experiences linked to the out-of-field phenomenon have been so far limited. Empirical research shows how this phenomenon has various policy implications for: • school leaders’ effective management of out-of-field teaching practices; • teachers’ professional needs and expectations; • classroom complexities; • students’ wellbeing and behavioural issues; • educational leaders’ concerns about quality education; • teaching workforce stability. The results offer truths from the field, underlining the duty of care that policies represent. Such truths include reflections on the effectiveness of teachers, the wellbeing of out-of-field teachers and their students, and the role policies need to engage in to protect dispositions and emotions. The findings and discussion position the implications of the phenomenon for quality education. In an era of risk for education, the refinement of school improvement policies to support out-of-field teachers needs educational leaders’ full attention.
Stern, M. (2012). “We can’t build our dreams on suspicious minds”: Neoliberalism, education policy, and the feelings left over. Cultural Studies: Critical Methodologies, 12(5), 387–400. doi:10.1177/1532708612453004 Bates, A. (2013). Transcending systems thinking in education reform: Implications for policy-makers and school leaders. Journal of Education Policy, 28(1), 38–54. doi:10.1080/02680939.2012.684249 Lingard, B. (2016b). Think tanks, “policy experts” and “ideas for” education policy making in Australia. Australia Education Research, 43, 15–33. doi:10.1007/s13384-015-0193-0 Johnson, C. (2013). Educational turbulence: The influence of macro and micro-policy on science education reform. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 24(4), 693–715. doi:10.1007/s10972-012-9333-9 Cuban, L. (2019a, January 3). Donors reform schooling: Evaluating teachers (Part 1) [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://larrycuban.wordpress.com/2019/01/03/donors-reform-schooling-evaluating-teachers-part-1/ Cuban, L. (2019b, January 5). Donors reform schooling: Evaluating teachers (Part 2) [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://larrycuban.wordpress.com/2019/01/05/donors-reform-schooling-evaluating-teachers-part-2/ Caena, F. (2014b). Teacher competence frameworks in Europe: Policy-as-discourse and policy-as-practice. European Journal of Education, 49(3), 312–331. doi:10.1111/ejed.12088 Du Plessis, A. (2017). Out-of-field teaching: What educational leaders need to know. Boston, MA: Sense Publishers. Du Plessis, A. (2019/under review). Professional support beyond initial teacher education. Singapore: Springer. Manuscript submitted for publication. Gadamer, H. (1975). Truth and method (2nd ed., J. C. B. Mohr, Trans.). New York, NY: The Seabury Press. Gadamer, H. (1976/2008). Philosophical hermeneutics (D. Linge, Ed. & Trans.). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Ingersoll, R. (1998). The problem of out-of-field teaching. Phi Delta Kappan, 79(10), 773–776. Retrieved from http://repository.upenn.edu/gse_pubs/137 Ingersoll, R. (2006, January). Is there really a shortage of mathematics and science teachers? Paper presented at the Math Science Partnership Conference, Washington, D.C. Retrieved from http://repository.upenn.edu/gse_pubs/132 Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
The programme is updated regularly (each day in the morning)
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.