Examining beginning teachers’ perceptions of workplace support
journal contributionposted on 24.10.2012, 09:11 by Alison Fox, Rosemary Deaney, Elaine Wilson
Purpose: This paper, taking a participatory perspective of learning, seeks to look at the interaction between individuals and their workplace, focusing on the perceptions of workplaces and self by beginning teachers in terms of support for their learning. Design/methodology/approach: The study presents an analysis of 37 interviews from 17 beginning teachers across 18 workplaces. Analysis used an adapted version of Evans and colleagues’ expansive-restrictive framework for evaluating workplaces, focusing on relational aspects. A matrix of congruence between individuals and their workplace is presented, highlighting the significance of personal networking. Findings: Although beginning teachers concluded that their workplaces were largely expansive, they also identified concerns regarding perceptions of support availability. Formal and informal support was recognized and the significance of outside school support, such as through the University Faculty, was noted even for teachers in post. Good “matches”, differential engagement with the same workplace and similar agency in different workplaces were identified. Practical implications: The matrix of congruence is offered as a tool to researchers and teacher educators interested in understanding how support is experienced by novice professionals. The study highlights the utility of taking a personal network perspective to conceiving workplaces as not necessarily bounded by locality or normative practices. This could offer opportunities for discourse leading to greater engagement by professionals in their own learning. Originality/value: The paper responds to calls that personal-social processes in the workplace need further attention. The consideration of network perspectives, attending to informal aspects of social engagement, offers new understandings.