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Overton, J 2007, 'In celebration of teachers', EQ Australia, Summer, pp. 14-15.

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Jenny Overton also publishes in the name of Jenny Johnston


Teaching is the best and worst of jobs, but it is the celebration of what is great that keeps teachers' noses to the grindstone. In gathering data for her PhD, the author interviewed early childhood teachers on the effects of ongoing educational change in Tasmanian schools. The data analysis revealed a huge range of issues, the most significant of which related to policy documents and programs; changes in expectations; ageing and length of service; leadership; transfers; professional support structures; societal changes; and behaviour management issues. As the data analysis continued, the nature of teachers' relationships with the agents of the education system itself became more striking. A range of incidents and examples were cited by the teachers in the study that evidenced the existence of strong networks of power in schools. Three levels or dimensions of power were evident: imposed, disempowerment, empowerment. But although power issues created conflicts they generally did not lead to overt confrontations; teachers responded by using subtle and passive strategies to work around the conflicts. The data also revealed how 'professional' the teachers were in approaching their issues and concerns, and how many of the teachers were empowering those around them. This empowerment acts in some small way as an inoculation against some of the disempowerment that teachers can be exposed to in and through the actions of the educational system.

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