Source: Teacher Development, Vol. 15, No. 3, August 2011, 333–348.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study explores the job satisfaction and career development of beginning teachers in Hong Kong at a time of education reform when teaching’s appeal as a career is in doubt.
The authors are interested to understand teachers’ reasons for joining the profession, whether they have a satisfying teaching experience in the past two years and how their personal goals interact with the teaching environment to shape job satisfaction.
The participants were eleven graduates from the Post-graduate Diploma of Education (PGDE) Primary Programme of the Hong Kong Institute of Education in 2007.
The participants studied English as their major teaching subject; they also studied a second major (i.e. mathematics, general studies, special education needs, and physical education). They have diverse backgrounds: two participants joined the PGDE programme as new graduates; one has less than one year of work experience; and eight others have two to ten years of work experience.
This study adopts a qualitative study approach using a longitudinal research design
The participants were initially interviewed after graduation from the teacher training programme and then after gaining a two-year teaching experience.
Other data were collected through archival data, including the CVs of the participants, informal contacts between the interviewer and the participants during the two years following their graduation, and information over the Internet on the school where the participants work.
The findings reveal that a good school environment where teachers can focus their attention and energy on the growth of students and their own personal growth is important to their teaching motivation and satisfaction.
The school environment was found to be more determinative of teachers’ satisfaction and their initial teaching orientation.
A passionate student teachers who are full of educational ideals will be de-motivated, if they have to expend too much effort on non-teaching activities, and are bound by rigid and unfair administration.
On the other hand, those who enter teaching mainly for its relatively high salary and job security may become more involved and interested in teaching if the school environment is favourable to developing teachers’ motivation.
Based on these findings, the authors suggest that teachers’ level of job satisfaction may be improved through systematically reducing their non-teaching workload by a generous increase in the number of supporting staff in schools.
As identified in this research, teaching environment has a direct impact on teachers’ professional development.
It is therefore imperative that we act now to improve teachers’ teaching environment, to ensure that teachers can sustain their devotion to teaching, as well as to reduce the wastage of experienced teachers.