Sumsion, J. (2003). 'Bad Days don't kill you: They Just Make you Stronger: a case study of an early childhood educator's resilience. International Journal of Early Years Education, 11:2, 141-154
Early childhood teachers | Teacher resilience | Teacher retention/attrition
This paper aimed to investigate what enables some children's services staff to withstand the impact of factors that lead others to leave. What accounts for their resilience to adverse structural factors? The findings are based on one in depth case study of one Early Childhood Education teacher in NSW whom the researcher had observed as having a long and successful career despite workplace adversity. The research findings were based on an analysis of two in depth conversational interviews and careful reading of the teachers 150 page professional portfolio. During interviews, the teacher was asked about her motivations to teach, career history, significant influences on her career, what she saw as 'protective factors' for career satisfaction despite difficult circumstances. The teacher identified a range of factors in contributing to her resilience including the personal qualities of self insight, leadership skills, risk taking and perseverance, a macro perspective and self preservation. Contextual factors were also viewed as significant and included having a support network, having a mentor and participating in ongoing PD opportunities. The research identified interplay between personal and contextual features and concluded that three key factors supporting teacher resilience: teaching as inquiry, teaching as connectedness and appreciating the bigger picture.
Sumsion, J. (2004) Early childhood teachers' constructions of their resilience and thriving: a continuing investigation. International Journal of Early Years Education, 12:3,275-290
Beginning teachers | Early childhood teachers | Teacher resilience
This study was set in NSW and focused on qualified teachers working in the 'full day care prior to school age' sector. It used qualitative methodologies including in-depth interviews and line drawings denoting critical incidents, with seven teachers. The study aimed to develop an understanding of the teachers own constructions of resilience and thriving. The key research question was - what did these teachers attribute their resilience and capacity to thrive professionally in child care despite challenging circumstances that lead many to leave? Analysis of the data lead to the following 8 interrelated attributes of resilience identified by the teachers. Four were personal: self insight (thinking positively), commitment to ongoing learning, a philosophical stance or moral purpose, engagement in conscious career decision making. The other four were contextual: employer support; perceived professional freedom and agency; collegiality and recognition by others of their professional expertise. It was hoped that these insights could be used generate alternative story lines or cultural scripts of teaching in child care based on agency, hope, freedom and teaching as intellectual work.
Sumsion, J. (2007) Sustaining the Employment of Early Childhood Teachers in Long Day Care: A Case for robust hope, critical imagination and critical action. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education. Vol. 35, No. 3, August 2007, pp.311-327
This paper aimed to identify critical communities of Early Childhood Education teachers who are seeking to address a major source of their job dissatisfaction by challenging excessive regulatory requirements. The paper also reviewed the policies and programs of relevant government, employer and Initial Teacher Education (ITE) to cast light on current trends in Early Childhood Teacher Education and work place conditions. The paper finds that Early Childhood and Child Care teachers continue to work for low pay, with poor conditions and low status. This is despite the increasingly complex roles required of them in the workplace largely due to increasing privatisation, regulation and accountability measures. The paper also found that ITE providers have been reluctant to offer courses in Child Care teaching and that those that do offer them within the Early Childhood Education field usually offer generally traditional content and are psychologically based with little reference to other aspects of the teaching role. By investigating the activities of emerging critical communities of Early Childhood teachers the author aims to show how concepts of Robust Hope; Critical Imagination and Critical Action can be antidotes to "collective impotence" i.e. doing nothing.