Variations in Teachers’ Work, Lives and Effectiveness

Variations in Teachers’ Work, Lives and Effectiveness

What the resource is:
This is a report of research which took place between 2001-5, commissioned by the DfES, to investigate factors contributing to variations in teachers’ effectiveness at different phases of their careers, working in a range of schools in different contexts.

The aims of the resource:
The aim of the research was to identify those factors which contributed to the variations of teachers’ effectiveness and why teachers do, or do not, become more effective over time.

Key findings or focus:

The findings can be summarised as below:
• Teacher effectiveness does not necessarily grow in relation to time in teaching. Six professional life phases (linked to years of teaching) are identified.
• 67 per cent of the sample of teachers studied had a positive sense of identity. Their identity consists of the interaction between the expectations of a good teacher, the local conditions where they work and life outside school.
• 80 per cent of teachers found leadership, colleagues and school culture to be key influences on their capacity to be effective. Teachers in primary schools are more likely to sustain their commitment and perceived effectiveness than secondary teachers.
• Continuing professional development has a consistently positive influence on all teachers.
• Pupils of teachers who were sustaining/building on their commitment were more likely to attain results at or above the level expected regardless of school context.
• 90 per cent of teachers reported positive relationships with pupils, irrespective of their levels of motivation or commitment.
• School phase appears to have a significant positive influence on teachers’ commitment and resilience, particularly in their mid-career professional life. At this stage, 85% of primary teachers were still committed, whereas only 63% of secondary teachers were. Teachers who work in challenging schools are less likely to be committed.
• Maintaining their initial motivation for becoming a teacher (e.g. ‘wanting to make a difference’) was significant in maintaining commitment.
• Commitment is a necessary but insufficient condition for both perceived and relative effectiveness.
• Resilience is a necessary condition for sustaining commitment.
• Commitment and resilience influence, and are influenced by, professional life phase and identity. Primary teachers were more likely to have sustained their commitment than secondary teachers.

The key findings emerged from the in-depth analysis of data which emerged from this large-scale research involving 309 teachers in 96 schools (primary and secondary). In analysing the findings, reference is made to a substantial list of relevant references.

The quality, authority and credibility of the resource:
This is a high quality research report which provides clear findings identified from a detailed analysis of data collected as part of a large-scale research project. With respect to ITE, the findings clearly identify issues which have an impact on the motivation and commitment of teachers during different stages of their careers.

The implications for ITE tutors/mentors:

This resource is helpful to ITE tutors involved in the continuing professional development of teachers. The resource is also valuable to school leaders in identifying issues which are clearly linked to the ongoing motivation and commitment of teachers.

The relevance to ITE students:
The summary in this resource is of relevance to ITE students, particularly those near to the end of their training, in enabling them to identify issues which may influence their effectiveness during different stages of their careers.

Reviewed by:

Mike Potter

Authors :

Christopher Day, Gordon Stobart, Pam Sammons, Alison Kington

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