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Good teachers grow: Disrupting negative depictions of teachers through relational a/r/tographic inquiry
This article explores the potential impact of expressions of gratitude to and for our teachers on teacher retention and resilience. It is widely acknowledged in educational circles that upwards of forty percent of Australian teachers leave the profession within the first five years. With teachers struggling under the pressures of increased social and political scrutiny and associated increases in societal and workplace expectations, teacher burnout and attrition remains a substantial issue in Australia. Despite the scholarly research that has identified the high levels of teacher attrition, the difficulties of the teaching profession go largely unacknowledged by a public who see media commentary around teacher work and lives dominated by references to short hours and long holidays. In addition, this narrative is often dismissive of the positive influence of good teaching and dedicated teachers.
Using the case study of a recently retired career teacher known to the researchers, this article identifies the potential impact on teacher resilience and retention of a disruption of the negative public discourses around the work and lives of teachers. In doing so, we illustrate the need to balance dominant negative discourses with ones that acknowledge and celebrate the positive impact of teachers in the lives of their colleagues, students and the wider community. The authors employ an a/r/tographic inquiry that uses relational art inquiry tools to highlight the attributes of resilient teachers, and how teacher resilience and in turn retention might be cultivated through expressions of community gratitude. In doing so, we argue that when teachers feel valued and are cognisant of the gratitude felt by students, staff and parents, their professional resilience is bolstered and the likelihood of attrition reduced.
Publication titleAustralian Art Education
Department/SchoolFaculty of Education
PublisherArt Education Australia Inc.
Place of publicationAustralia
Rights statement© Art Education Australia