10 SES 01 D, Research on Values, Beliefs & Understandings in Teacher Education
Teacher preparation is at the centre of education policies across the globe. Cochran-Smith (2005, p. 6) noted the widely held belief amongst governments that “the implementation of appropriate policies regarding teacher education will solve the teacher supply problem and enhance the quality of the teachers being prepared for the nation’s schools, thus leading to desired school outcomes, especially pupil’s learning”. Against this backdrop, despite many reforms in education in England, an emerging crisis is sourcing teachers. Further, it is claimed that obtaining a schools’ workforce is ‘the most important domestic challenge facing [English] Education Ministers today’ (Worth et al., 2018). Even though this situation might be specific to English schooling, I argue that the experience of initial teacher education (ITE) can have an adverse impact on pre-service teachers’ career choices across a broad range of contexts. Making teaching and teacher preparation more attractive career options for high calibre graduates of the millennial generation is a pressing challenge for policy makers and school leaders (Donnison, 2007: Shaw and Fairhurst, 2008).
Recently, the British government has put resources into enticing young graduates into ITE in order to boost their numbers. This is because the targets allocated by the Department for the recruitment of pre-service teachers to training programmes are being missed, year on year. This failure has been very acute for STEM and MFL teaching subjects (Worth and De Lazzari, 2017). Moreover, recruitment incentives targeting young graduates, specifically those teaching the aforementioned STEM disciplines, have not generated improvements regarding their retention in the profession (Foster, 2018). Scholars have recommended strategies that could encourage new teachers to stay in the job long term. These suggestions focus on several key dimensions of job satisfaction that appear to be lacking in English schools, for example, paying scientists slightly more than other teachers and offering specialist CPD (Allen and Sims, 2017; Sims, 2018). An improvement applicable to many practitioners is the allocation of a manageable workload: one comprising worthwhile tasks that contribute directly to pupils’ learning (DfE, 2019). Arguably, the opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way to pupils’ flourishing is a purpose highly valued by practitioners.
The UK’s NOA (2016) has identified another significant factor in the English context that contributes to the shortfall in teacher supply. For the year 2013/14, it found that only 80% of pre-service teachers had proceeded on to employment in state schools six months after qualifying. This suggests that significant numbers of pre-service teachers are making changes to their career choices and deciding to leave the profession on completing an ITE programme, i.e. before their employment. This group forms the focus for the study reported upon in this paper.
I argue that currently many ITE programmes are not fully satisfying the requirements of young graduate entrants wanting a career in teaching and thus, lessons could be learnt regarding how to make teaching jobs attractive to the upcoming generation, known as Millennials. The apparent deficits in teacher preparation are grounded in, first, the meaningfulness of the ITE experience (Mäkinen et al., 2018) and second, the extent to which potential teachers perceive teaching as potentially offering a satisfying career. The research questions guiding this study are as follows.
- What motivates a pre-service teacher to enrol on an ITE programme?
- What is the pre-service teacher’s take on meaningful (job) satisfaction?
- What triggers a change in career choice at the end of an ITE programme?
For this small scale study, in-depth interviews were held with two pre-service candidates attending a university-led ITE (qualified teacher status and postgraduate certificate in education) programme in teaching secondary maths. The university was located in southwest England and the programme comprised concurrent practicum and theoretical input. My narrative enquiry was carried out over an 18-month period was geared to towards providing explanations for their chosen career path on completing the ITE programme. The two young men related detailed accounts regarding the events and significant people they encountered during this time, as well as how their perspectives on a potentially satisfying career were shaped (Clandinin and Connelly, 2000). The interviews were carried out initially face to face and then via Skype when the participants relocated to take up employment. The interviews were recorded, transcribed and subjected to thematic analysis. I ascertained the emergent themes with the participants as the programme of interviews rolled out. I purposefully recruited these two young candidates as individual case studies, because they were science graduates and trainees in STEM subjects and hence, they were of particular interest regarding their chosen career trajectory, given the abovementioned shortage in these subjects. I also considered them to typify members of the millennial generation (Mäkinen et al., 2018). The chance to contribute to others’ flourishing, expressed as ‘making a difference’ by these two participants, is a goal that many Millennials seek in their working life (Özçelik, 2015: PwC, 2011). In the teacher education context, this includes the values held by pre-service teachers in relation to what comprises meaningful work for them. To capture this aspect, I explored the goal of ‘making a difference’ with both participants. Subsequently, I employed capabilities analysis to comprehend how their valued goals were converted into functionings that were in alignment with each individual’s available resources and mind-set (Unterhalter, 2003).
The comparison sheds light on how these individuals reconciled their valued goals. Regarding which, whilst ‘making a difference’ was strongly embraced by both at the start of the ITE programme, their stance towards this changed over time. That is, the way in which each individual responded to the realisation that his valued goal had been recast was apparent from their narratives. The initial analysis of the data indicated that the individual with a robust academic background and extensive social support was the one who took the decision not to pursue teaching. He appeared to be a strong individual who had sufficient critical skills to reflect and then act on his decision to change direction when he no longer considered it possible to convert what I would term his capabilities through teaching. The second individual had a less accomplished academic background, somewhat less support and he admitted that he had struggled throughout the ITE programme. He proceeded in to teaching, even though his valued goal was not being realised. Further data analysis will reveal the varying influences of the teacher preparation programme in determining these divergent career choices. I conclude this paper with a review of the potential implications of pre-service teachers’ changing career choices for teacher preparation. The preliminary outcomes bring into question the nature of ITE programmes and further, challenges whether we can assume ‘the brightest and best’ people are entering the profession. Furthermore, it is worth considering strategies that accommodate changing career choices as well as the work-related orientations often associated with the millennial generation. Avenues yet to be explored include: how ITE recruitment campaigns are pitched and the individuals being targeted, the processes of initial induction and what can be done to ensure this cohort can make long term advancement in the workforce a reality.
Allen, R. and Sims, S. (2017). Improving Science Teacher Retention: Do National STEM Learning Network professional development courses keep science teachers in the classroom? London. Wellcome Trust. Clandinin, D.J. and Connelly, F.M. (2000). Narrative Inquiry, Experience and Story in Qualitative Research. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco. Cochran-Smith, M. (2005). The new teacher education: For better or for worse? Educational Researcher, 34(7), 3-17. https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189X034007003. DfE (Department for Education) (2019). Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy. London. Donnison, S. (2007). Unpacking the Millennials: A Cautionary Tale for Teacher Education. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 32(3) http:dx.doi.org?10.14221/ajte2007v32n3.1 Foster D. (2018). Teacher Recruitment and Retention in England. Briefing Paper. London, House of Commons. Mäkinen, M., Linden, J., Annala, J. and Wiseman, A. (2018). Millennial generation preservice teachers inspiring the design of teacher education, European Journal of Teacher Education, 41:3, 343-359, DOI: 10.1080/02619768.2018.1448776 NAO (National Audit Office). (2016). Training new teachers. London, NAO. Özçelik, G. (2015). Engagement and Retention of the Millennial Generation in the Workplace through Internal Branding, International Journal of Business and Management 10(3) ISSN 1833-3850 E-ISSN 1833-8119 PwC. (2011). Millennials at Work: Re-shaping the workplace. https://www.pwc.de/de/prozessoptimierung/assets/millennials-at-work-2011.pdf Shaw, S., and Fairhurst, D. (2008) Engaging a New Generation of Graduates. Education and Training 50(5) 366-378 https://doi.org/10.1108/00400910810889057 Sims, S. (2018). What Happens When You Pay Shortage-Subject Teachers More Money? Simulating the Effect of Early Career Salary Supplements on Teacher Supply in England. London: Gatsby Charitable Foundation. Unterhalter, E. (2003). Education, capabilities and social justice: The leap to equality. Background paper for the EFA Global Monitoring Report. UNESCO. Worth, J. and De Lazzari. G. (2017). Teacher Retention and Turnover Research. Research Update 1: Teacher Retention by Subject. Slough: NFER. Worth, J., Lynch, S., Hillary, J., Rennie, C. and Andrade, J. (2018). Teacher Workforce Dynamics in England. Slough, NFER.
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