University of Tasmania
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\I wouldn't teach any other grade\" : a case study of kindergarten teachers' work"

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posted on 2023-05-26, 17:36 authored by Kelly, Michael
Whilst the nature of teachers' work in primary and secondary contexts has been the focus of considerable investigation, in the field of early childhood education, kindergarten teachers' work has been under researched. This has important implications for the field, specifically that the work of kindergarten teachers is not understood. Consequently, the work of kindergarten teachers is often under-valued and accorded a lower status than that of their colleagues in other teaching settings. The study provides an in-depth examination of four kindergarten teachers' work with the aim of illustrating the complex and diverse nature of kindergarten teaching. A second aim of the study was to gain an understanding of how individuals came to teach in kindergarten, the roles that kindergarten teachers are required to adopt, and what it means to be a kindergarten teacher. An ethnographic, narrative, case study approach to the research was adopted. Extensive observations and interviews of four kindergarten teachers working in government schools in northern Tasmania were employed to examine the nature of kindergarten teachers' work and the meaning of that work for these teachers. Through this study, a framework for understanding the nature of kindergarten teachers' work emerged. The framework takes into account the personal, professional and social dimensions of kindergarten teachers' work. The findings associated with the personal dimension suggest that these participants entered the area of kindergarten education through serendipitous circumstances or opportunities. The participants described their work as hard although kindergarten teaching was also viewed as being rewarding and a privilege despite the low status and lack of understanding that had been associated with their work. The professional dimension of kindergarten teachers' work revealed the participants were required to adopt diverse roles that can be divided into three broad categories; roles that reflect the purposes of kindergarten education such as introducing children and their families to formal schooling; roles that are related to specific aspects of kindergarten teachers' work which included the role of facilitator or social worker; and general roles such as being keeper of the peace or comforting children. The participants in this study often worked in relative isolation from other teachers, senior members of staff and their school's principal. The findings of the study suggest that the social dimension was influenced by the physical design or location of the kindergarten classroom, timetable differences between the kindergarten and the rest of the school and kindergarten teachers' perceptions that their work is misunderstood by those not involved in kindergarten teaching.


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Copyright 2004 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (PhD. )--University of Tasmania, 2004. Includes bibliographical references

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