Conference paper

Advanced teachers in Swedish schools – proud missionaries with visions of development

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Author list: Westman, Anna-Karin

Publication year: 2014


Abstract

In today’s schools, teachers’ work and teachers’ professional knowledge are increasingly challenged and questioned, and politicians tend to seek quick solutions to the schools’ so called ‘academic crisis’. One such solution was the reform of career positions for advanced teachers put in place in 2013 to support the careers of individual teachers and contribute to increased goal achievement and local school development in general.This paper is part of a project aimed at examining how the teacher profession is ‘done’ regarding this ongoing reform and how teacher professionalism can be understood as part of school development. We stress the importance of exploring various conditions that might contribute to the ambitions of the reform and thereby the need of research that takes into consideration the fact that the teacher profession is ‘done’ in local contexts and diverse social geographies (Ball, 2006). As a first step, the purpose of the paper is to shed light on how advanced teachers express the meaning of being an advanced teacher from their own perspective.The project is based on theories of teacher professionalism, gender and school development, shaping a theoretical model where the theories are used to examine and describe the advanced teachers’ integrated profession and work and to support theoretical and empirical syntheses on the individual, local organizational and system level (Gaskell & Mullen, 2009, Fullan, 2001). The empirical material from this first step consists of interviews from six teachers and a survey with open questions sent to advanced teachers in one municipality a few months after they had begun working as such. The focus in both the interviews and the survey was to spot the opportunities, challenges and expectations related to these teachers’ new mission.Preliminary analyses from the survey show a considerable lack of clarity about the mission, although one important element is described as ‘getting colleagues on the track’, as colleagues’ attitudes are of great importance. From the interviews, the analysis shows that the teachers consider themselves to be door openers, both figuratively and literally.


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