Why choose teaching?

Andrea ChesterUncategorizedLeave a Comment

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This report commissioned by the Queensland College of Teachers was published in June 2017. A survey of 1000+ registered teachers investigated motivations for choosing teaching as a first or subsequent career, satisfaction with teaching and intentions for continuation in the profession, the key influences on decisions to enter teaching, and career aspirations of teachers.

For those who don’t have the time or inclination to read the full report, the recommendations are summarised below:

  1. Intrinsic motivation is identified as a critical influence on candidates’ decisions to enter teaching. Educational leaders at system and local levels should capitalise on the desire of potential teacher candidates to assist students and the community to improve individual life outcomes and wellbeing. This recommendation applies across phases of schooling and is particularly the case for attracting Indigenous Australians into teaching.
  2. Opportunities for career advancement and leadership opportunities in Primary Schools should be promoted as evidence suggests male teachers, in particular, include future leadership opportunities in career selection. The report also highlights males’ interest in teaching because of subject specialisation, especially in secondary schooling. As indicated, the introduction of subject specialisation in Primary Schools should therefore be promoted by system and sector leaders through recruitment strategies.
  3. Universities should re-assess their recruitment strategies in light of the apparent lack of impact of traditional and contemporary marketing modes such as career fairs and internet sites and TV advertisements, identified in the report as having low levels of influence.
  4. The report identifies the high influence of teachers, friends and family and partners in selecting teaching as a first or subsequent career. School leaders and expert teachers could identify prospective candidates for teaching while at school, and foster interest through the years of schooling completion.
  5. Building on current initiatives in university-school partnerships, early achievers programs or similar could open up university studies in relevant areas to foster student interest in teaching. Given the requirement of the Literacy and Numeracy Test for Initial Teacher Education (LANTITE) teacher education units in literacy and numeracy could be offered for prospective candidates. This could bring the benefit that the LANTITE hurdle test is completed early in a study program or while at school, before entering Initial Teacher Education (AITSL, 2016).
  6. Investigation of subject area specialisation preferences by candidates entering teaching in 2019 should be undertaken to examine the early impact of recent policy changes in initial teacher education. Readers are advised to see the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group (TEMAG) report (2014) and the TEMAG Government Response paper (2015). This recommendation recognises that the definition of the term ‘specialisation’ is subject to ongoing discussion at the time of writing.
  7. Regulatory authorities and stakeholders involved in workforce planning should engage in continuous promotion of the status and image of the teaching profession by emphasising the impact teachers have on society, students’ futures, and the building of a productive, healthy future generation. The report shows social influences and employment conditions impact teachers’ perceptions of the teaching profession. Educational leaders should employ strategies to engage the media to support and enhance the positive status and image of teaching as a career.
  8. Systems should be put in place to measure satisfaction levels of teachers to improve workforce building and planning, to develop stakeholders’ multi-policy strategies and to retain teachers in the workplace. To promote the image of the teaching profession, educational leaders should aim to improve teachers’ perception of the status of teaching. The quality and accountability agendas of various stakeholders need to be interconnected to teacher workforce planning and needs of teachers with a specific focus on human relation and leadership strategies.
  9. The report’s findings suggest guidance and career officers have little influence on career decisions to enter teaching. Accordingly, the role and influence of guidance and career officers could be reassessed or refocused.
  10. Education leaders, teacher regulatory authorities and school leadership associations should identify current teachers to promote teaching as a career choice. Given the findings that Prior Teaching and Learning Experiences are a strong motivational factor and that teachers have a significant degree of influence on their classroom students’ decisions to choose teaching as a career (as shown by additional quantitative and qualitative questions added to the survey), future research might consider the impact of dissatisfied teachers (i.e. in dissuading youngsters from choosing teaching as a profession).
  11. Leaders responsible for teacher workforce planning should consider targeted, attractive scholarships to profile teaching as a profession with the potential for strong career progression across a broad range of pathways including teaching, administration, planning and policy. Marketing and recruitment messages should target a wide audience including mature-age candidates with successful careers outside teaching.
  12. In conjunction with this approach, strategies should be developed to provide leadership opportunities for the 21-39 age groups. A main objective should be workforce planning to consider the potential for opening more diverse leadership opportunities that are aligned closely with sector strategic directions and policy priorities. Other objectives could be to stem attrition rates in the first five years after appointment and retain teachers in the workforce through possible incentives including postgraduate study opportunities in targeted areas.
  13. The report shows high levels of teacher satisfaction. Career development approaches could be explored to strengthen teacher satisfaction for identified sub-groups of teachers and the further professionalisation of teaching. Areas of shortage where the workforce is managed through heavy reliance on teaching out-of-field could be a starting priority.
  14. The recognition of leadership styles and teacher agency in influencing employment choices and teacher satisfaction could inform approaches to teacher performance reviews.

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