Micropolitical Staffroom Stories: Beginning Health and Physical Education Teachers’ Experiences of the Staffroom

Published: 
Feb. 22, 2013

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 30, (February 2013), p. 74-83.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
 

This paper explores the micropolitical staffroom experiences of beginning health and physical education teachers (HPE).

Method
This article emerged from a broader study, a narrative inquiry into beginning teacher workplace and micropolitical learning in the staffroom.
Data were collected through two beginning teachers’ narratives.
The participants were both female.
They had commenced their undergraduate program of study in 2005.

Discussion

The two narratives draw attention to how the context of the staffroom significantly shaped and reshaped the beginning teachers’ micropolitical learning and practices throughout their first year of teaching.
Both beginning teachers’ micropolitical knowledge and practices were to an extent bounded and structured by, the unique situations, people, interactions and relationships of the very particular micropolitical staffroom context.

The findings reveal that staffroom occupants shaped situations which beginning teachers encountered.
The stories depict the staffroom context in which beginning teachers encounter as a contact zone of contested stories, a context of possibility where different staffroom occupant’s/character’s interests and agendas meet, collide and compete for fulfilment and recognition.
Beginning teachers enter this contact zone, and attempt not only to understand and participate in a new context, but also to decipher and negotiate the micropolitical staffroom stories in such a way as to fulfil their own interests and agendas.

Micropolitical practices reflected personal and professional interests and knowledge.
The participants drew on previous understandings, values, beliefs and experiences, such as those fostered in their university studies, pre-service teacher experiences and experiences of staffrooms, to make sense of and participate in the micropolitical staffroom context.
The two beginning teachers became more micropolitically ‘literate’ overtime with a more in depth understanding of the particular context and prevailing micropolitical staffroom stories.
Their micropolitical learning was reshaped with their increasing capacity to engage with, navigate and accordingly position themselves in relation to the staffroom context, in such a way as to protect their desired working conditions and interests.

Furthermore, these stories reveal that beginning teachers’ interests and agendas, shaped by their past and present experiences, were guided by who they wanted to be professionally.
This resonated in both participants' stories in their commitment to quality curriculum and assessment and subsequently how they practiced micropolitical literacy, both proactively and reactively.

 
Implications

These stories highlight the highly personal, contextualized and informal micropolitical learning of beginning teachers within the staffroom context.
Further, the processes and strategies beginning teachers employ in pursuit of their interests, desired working conditions and professional identities, may not contribute to the development of positive micropolitical identities for beginning teachers.

The stories call for increased awareness of the role and importance of other teachers, particularly in the staffroom, in the provision of informal induction and support for beginning teachers.
The authors recommend that more attention needs to be paid to the staffroom as a micropolitical context in which beginning teachers transition, learn and develop professional and micropolitical identities.
Thus the establishment of positive and supportive micropolitical staffroom contexts, which support the development, and learning of beginning teachers, is clearly desirable.

This study highlights that effectively establishing these opportunities is inherently micropolitical, complex and complicated.
Thus, Teacher Education Programs need to provide opportunities and learning experiences, which not only expose pre-service teachers to staffrooms, but also open up for discussion the staffroom as a potential location for professional learning and development.

Updated: Jan. 19, 2015
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