Beginning Teachers’ Workplace Experiences: Perceptions of and Use of Support

This paper illuminates the experiences of beginning teachers using a participatory perspective approach and drawing on some of these teachers’ perceptions. We place the ‘subject’ of workplace learning research centrally in understanding the relatedness between workplaces and novice employees/trainees. This paper builds on previous work by the authors using semi-structured interviews with 17 beginning teachers in 19 schools that aim to better understand issues associated with beginning teacher retention. This study explores an application of a framework for evaluating workplaces as from expansive to restrictive learning environments, whilst examining individuals’ responses to and agency in these environments. In addition, these teachers’ personal networks were explored to identify how they shaped the teachers’ engagement with workplaces. This analysis revealed networks both internal and external to their schools, and hence a broader view of workplace than is often proposed. Together these analyses allowed an examination of the relatedness between individual beginning teachers and the schools they experienced. This paper identifies the significance of ontogeny and expectation that individuals bring to the workplace, along with individuals exhibiting different agency. These beginning teachers indicate how individuals can be proactive in creating more expansive learning environments for themselves through the utilisation of personal networks, even when these are not offered. This finding may have implications for beginning teachers to re-evaluate their potential to become empowered as they begin their careers.