Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    Being an effective teacher: what do teachers in different contexts conceptualise? A contextualised study for improving teacher effectiveness
    Wilkie, David Jeffrey ( 2021)
    Effective teachers achieve far more in terms of student outcomes than do less-effective teachers. There are educational, social and economic reasons as to why high learning outcomes for students are needed system-wide, and effective teachers are necessary for the success of endeavours to improve educational systems. System-wide efforts to improve overall teacher effectiveness, however, have had only limited success, and school-level effects emerge as important. The work of teachers in schools is multifaceted and complex, and there are subsequent complexities in considerations of teacher effectiveness and ways to improve it. Research has identified that individual attributes of teachers and school-level, environmental factors impact upon the effectiveness of teachers. Further knowledge and shared understanding of how teachers can become more effective, individually and collectively, continue to prove necessary. There is little research into how teachers and school leaders conceptualise being an effective teacher in their own working context, and what enables their effective work, and what impedes it. This qualitative study investigated the ways practising secondary school teachers and school leaders conceptualised being an effective teacher in the environment in which they worked. Contextualised enablers of teacher effectiveness and impediments to teacher effectiveness were also explored. A multiple case study of three schools was designed. Participant schools were purposively selected to provide substantial contextual variation – one government school, one Catholic school, and one independent school were each a case explored. Five-to-six voluntary participants in each school were selected, each one a practising teacher, or a school leader who also had an active teaching role. Semi-structured individual interviews were utilised to produced rich, contextualised data on the attributes, knowledge, and behaviours necessary to be effective as a teacher at the school. Data evidenced that teachers’ own conceptualisations of being an effective teacher aligned with established research, yet with notable contextual variation in some emphases in the descriptions. Participants described detailed, contextualised knowledge of their working environment and what they understood was enabling effective work by the teachers at their school, and what impeded effective work. Contextualised collective teacher efficacy and the impact of a school ethos were evidenced to enable teacher effectiveness. Unintegrated, time-intensive managerial and policy directives impeded teacher effectiveness.