The Sustainment of Early Childhood Teachers in the Classroom

Document Sample
The Sustainment of Early Childhood Teachers in the Classroom Powered By Docstoc
					The Sustainment of Early Childhood Teachers
                  in the Classroom.




                        Pam Kilgallon
             M.Ed., Grad Cert. Ed Admin., B. Ed.




   A Thesis Submitted for the Requirements for the Award of-
               Doctor of Philosophy: Education




                     School of Education
                   Edith Cowan University


              Date of Submission: 21st July 2006
                                                                                      ii

Use Of Thesis

This copy is the property of Edith Cowan University. However, the literary rights of
the author must also be respected. If any passage from this thesis is quoted or closely
paraphrased in a paper or written work prepared by the user, the source of the
passage must be acknowledged in the work. If the user desires to publish a paper or
written work containing passages copied or closely paraphrased from this thesis,
which passages would in total constitute an infringing copy for the purpose of the
Copyright Act, he or she must first obtain the written permission of the author to do
so.




                                                                                      ii
                                                                                          iii

Abstract.
       The changing nature of teaching has led to an increased focus on the
retention and productive engagement of teachers in the classrooms. The ongoing
implementation of educational change, accompanied by an ageing trend amongst
teachers and rising incidences of teacher attrition, stress and burnout, highlights the
importance of teachers being sustained in their profession. Furthermore, recognition
of the value of early childhood education has drawn attention to early childhood
teachers’ abilities to be sustained in their teaching practice, effectively engaging
students in the learning process.


       Acknowledging these issues, this study examined factors that influence early
childhood classroom teachers’ sustainment in the profession and in teaching.
Conducted in the northern metropolitan teaching districts of Perth, Western
Australia, this study utilized qualitative methodology in two phases of data
collection: open-ended surveys and focus group discussions with 57 early childhood
teachers, and case studies, compiled from in-depth interviews with six experienced
early childhood teachers who had taught more than 20 years in the classroom. Data
was analysed to identify key factors impacting on early childhood teachers staying
committed and productively engaged in the profession and in the craft of teaching.


       Findings indicated that the early childhood teachers in this study were
sustained in the profession through maintaining personal well-being and a life-work
balance. Factors sustaining participants’ job satisfaction contributed to their ongoing
commitment and engagement in the teaching process, particularly their enjoyment of
daily interaction with students and the relationships developed with work
colleagues. Positive attitudes towards learning, teaching and change were also found
to impact on sustainment, as did participants’ altruistic beliefs, caring dispositions,
emotional intelligences and personal well-being. Other sustaining factors included
the early childhood work environment and conditions of employment and access to a
range of sources of support. Furthermore, the early childhood teachers in this study
revealed that teacher wisdom, demonstrated through self-awareness, realistic
expectations and the ability to rationalise teaching practices to accommodate a range
of needs, underlined their maintaining personal well-being and a life-work balance
to be sustained in the profession and teaching in the classroom.


                                                                                          iii
                                                                                  iv

Declaration


I certify that this thesis does not, to the best of my knowledge and belief:


       (i)     incorporate without acknowledgement any material previously
               submitted for a degree or diploma in any institute of higher
               education;


       (ii)    contain any material previously published or written by another
               person except where due reference is made in the text; or


       (iii)   contain any defamatory material.


I also grant permission for the Library at Edith Cowan University to make duplicate
copies of my thesis as required.




Signature……………………………………………………….


Date…………………………………………………………….




                                                                                  iv
                                                                                     v



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS


My thanks to my supervisors, Associate Professor Carmel Maloney and Dr Graeme
Lock, for providing guidance in the preparation of this thesis and directing my focus
to the task at hand.


Thank you to all participants in the study, who demonstrated their commitment to
the profession and a willingness to share their experiences and knowledge. Without
their contributions this study would not have taken place. Also thanks to District
Curriculum Consultants in Early Childhood Education who provided an avenue to
access early childhood teachers.


A special thank you to my family for showing tolerance and support during the
research process.




                                                                                     v
                                                                         vi


TABLE OF CONTENTS
USE OF THESIS                                                      ii
ABSTRACT                                                           iii
DECLARATION                                                        iv
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS                                                   v
CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION                                            1
     Teacher Sustainment                                           2
     Background to the Study                                       3
     Significance of the Study                                     5
     Purpose of the Study                                          7
     Research Questions                                            8
     Definitions of Terms                                          8
     Summary                                                       9
CHAPTER 2. LITERATURE REVIEW                                       11
     Status of Early Childhood Education                           11
     Nature of Early Childhood Teachers’ Pedagogy-                 15
            Changing Educational Philosophies                      15
            Changing Realities of Early Childhood Teachers’ Work   17
     Other Impacts on Teachers’ Work-                              20
            Educational Change                                     21
            Teacher Attrition, Stress and Burnout                  24
            Teacher Well-being                                     28
            Teacher Job Satisfaction and Occupational Motivation   32
            Teacher Commitment and Engagement                      35
            Teacher Knowledge and Learning                         37
            Teacher Career Development                             39
     Summary                                                       42
CHAPTER 3. THEORETICAL AND CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK                    45
     The Theoretical Framework                                     45
            Background to Constructivism                           46
            Constructivist Beliefs in This Study                   47
     The Conceptual Framework                                      50




                                                                         vi
                                                                            vii


TABLE OF CONTENTS (Continued)
CHAPTER 4. METHODOLOGY                                                56
     Methodological Background                                        56
            Qualitative Understandings                                57
            The Interpretivist Perspective                            59
     Research Methods                                                 61
            Surveys                                                   61
            Interviews                                                62
            Focus Groups                                              63
            Case Studies                                              65
            Reporting Of Data                                         66
            Summary                                                   67
     Research Design                                                  67
     Research Procedure                                               68
            The Participants                                          68
            Ethics Clearance Process                                  69
            Data Collection                                           70
                   Phase One: Surveys and Focus Groups                70
                   Phase Two: Case Studies                            70
            Data Analysis                                             71
     Limitations of the Study                                         72
     Ethical Considerations                                           75
CHAPTER 5. FINDINGS OF PHASE ONE                                      76
     Professional Commitment of Early Childhood Teachers              78
     Job Satisfaction of Early Childhood Teachers                     81
     Occupational Motivation of Early Childhood Teachers              83
     Effective Teaching Practices of Early Childhood Teachers         86
     Early Childhood Teachers Coping with the
                                             Daily Demands of Teaching 89
     Early Childhood Teachers Coping with Educational Change          92
     Early Childhood Teachers’ Critical Experiences in Sustainment    94
            Positive Experiences in Sustainment                       94
            Negative Experiences in Sustainment                       97
     Summary                                                          99

                                                                            vii
                                                                       viii



TABLE OF CONTENTS (Continued)
CHAPTER 6. THE CASE STUDIES                                      101
     Case Study One: Barbara                                     102
           Description of the Location                           102
           Barbara’s Teaching Background                         102
           Barbara’s Professional Commitment                     103
           Barbara’s Job Satisfaction                            105
           Barbara’s Occupational Motivation                     106
           Barbara’s Effective Teaching Practices                107
           Barbara’s Coping with the Daily Demands of Teaching   109
           Barbara’s Coping with Educational Change              111
           Barbara’s Critical Experiences in Sustainment         112
           Barbara’s Summary                                     114
     Case Study Two: Gwen                                        116
           Description of the Location                           116
           Gwen’s Teaching Background                            116
           Gwen’s Professional Commitment                        116
           Gwen’s Job Satisfaction                               118
           Gwen’s Occupational Motivation                        120
           Gwen’s Effective Teaching Practices                   121
           Gwen’s Coping with the Daily Demands of Teaching      123
           Gwen’s Coping with Educational Change                 125
           Gwen’s Critical Experiences in Sustainment            126
           Gwen’s Summary                                        127
     Case Study Three: Rachel                                    129
           Description of the Location                           129
           Rachel’s Teaching Background                          129
           Rachel’s Professional Commitment                      130
           Rachel’s Job Satisfaction                             131
           Rachel’s Occupational Motivation                      132
           Rachel’s Effective Teaching Practices                 134
           Rachel’s Coping with the Daily Demands of Teaching    136
           Rachel’s Coping with Educational Change               138

                                                                       viii
                                                                       ix


TABLE OF CONTENTS (Continued)
CHAPTER 6. (Continued)
      Case Study Three: Rachel (Continued)
             Rachel’s Critical Experiences in Sustainment        139
             Rachel’s Summary                                    141
      Case Study Four: Grace                                     143
             Description of the Location                         143
             Grace’s Teaching Background                         143
             Grace’s Professional Commitment                     144
             Grace’s Job Satisfaction                            146
             Grace’s Occupational Motivation                     147
             Grace’s Effective Teaching Practices                149
             Grace’s Coping with the Daily Demands of Teaching   151
             Grace’s Coping with Educational Change              154
             Grace’s Critical Experiences in Sustainment         155
             Grace’s Summary                                     157
      Case Study Five: Mel                                       159
             Description of the Location                         159
             Mel’s Teaching Background                           159
             Mel’s Professional Commitment                       160
             Mel’s Job Satisfaction                              161
             Mel’s Occupational Motivation                       163
             Mel’s Effective Teaching Practices                  165
             Mel’s Coping with the Daily Demands of Teaching     167
             Mel’s Coping with Educational Change                169
             Mel’s Critical Experiences in Sustainment           171
             Mel’s Summary                                       173
      Case Study Six: Hilary                                     175
             Description of the Location                         175
             Hilary’s Teaching Background                        175
             Hilary’s Professional Commitment                    176
             Hilary’s Job Satisfaction                           178
             Hilary’s Occupational Motivation                    180
             Hilary’s Effective Teaching Practices               182

                                                                       ix
                                                                             x


TABLE OF CONTENTS (Continued)
CHAPTER 6. (Continued)
      Case Study Six: Hilary(Continued)
             Hilary’s Coping with the Daily Demands of Teaching       184
             Hilary’s Coping with Educational Change                  186
             Hilary’s Critical Experiences in Sustainment             187
             Hilary’s Summary                                         189
      Summary of the Case Studies                                     190
CHAPTER 7. DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS                                     192
      Experienced Early Childhood Teachers                            193
      Early Childhood Teachers’ Sustainment in the Teaching Profession 194
             Students                                                 196
             Work Colleagues and Professional Peers                   198
             Early Childhood Work Conditions and Environment          200
             Early Childhood Teachers’ Attitudes and Beliefs          202
             Relationships with Parents                               206
             Other Sustaining Factors                                 206
                    Line Managers                                     207
                    Resources                                         208
      Summary of Early Childhood Teachers’ Professional Sustainment 209
      Early Childhood Teachers’ Sustainment in the Classroom          209
             Work Colleagues                                          210
             Students                                                 212
             Sources of Support                                       213
                    Professional Resources                            213
                    Line Manager Support                              214
                    Parental Support                                  214
                    Familial and Social Support                       215
             Early Childhood Teachers’ Attitudes and Dispositions     216
             Early Childhood Teachers’ Health and Well-being          218
             Early Childhood Teachers’ Pedagogical Practice           219
             Additional Sustaining Factors                            221
                    Conditions of Employment                          221
                    Appropriate Resources                             222

                                                                             x
                                                                          xi


TABLE OF CONTENTS (Continued)
CHAPTER 7. (Continued)
              Additional Sustaining Factors (Continued)
                     The Experience of Teaching                    222
       Summary of Early Childhood Teachers’ Sustainment in Teaching 223
       Summary of Key Findings                                     223
CHAPTER 8. CONCLUSION                                              227
       The Nature of Teacher Sustainment                           227
       Teacher Character and Teacher Wisdom                        230
       Support for Sustainment                                     233
       Career Path Enhancement                                     235
       The Early Childhood Setting                                 236
       Limitations of This Study                                   238
       Conclusion                                                  238
REFERENCES                                                         240
APPENDIX A. Disclosure Form for Research Study                     252
APPENDIX B. Consent Form for School Principals                     253
APPENDIX C. Consent Form for Early Childhood Teachers              254
APPENDIX D. Letter to District Directors                           255
APPENDIX E. Focus Group and Survey Questions                       256
APPENDIX F. Interview Schedule                                     258
APPENDIX G. Demographic Outline of the Study’s Participants        259
APPENDIX H. Sample of a Case Study Participant’s Transcripts       260




                                                                          xi
                                                                          xii


TABLE OF CONTENTS (Continued)
LIST OF TABLES AND FIGURES
Figure 1. Conceptual Framework                                       51
Table 1. Professional Commitment of Early Childhood Teachers         78
Table 2. Job Satisfaction of Early Childhood Teachers                82
Table 3. Occupational Motivation of Early Childhood Teachers         85
Table 4. Effective Teaching Practices of Early Childhood Teachers    87
Table 5. Early Childhood Teachers Coping with the
                                           Daily Demands of Teaching 89
Table 6. Early Childhood Teachers Coping with Educational Change     92
Table 7. Early Childhood Teachers’ Positive Experiences of
                                           Sustainment in Teaching   95
Table 8. Early Childhood Teachers’ Negative Experiences of
                                           Sustainment in Teaching   97




                                                                          xii
xiii




xiii

				
DOCUMENT INFO
Shared By:
Categories:
Stats:
views:10
posted:4/27/2010
language:English
pages:13
Description: The Sustainment of Early Childhood Teachers in the Classroom.