Promoting Early Career Teacher Resilience: A socio-cultural and critical guide to action, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Promoting Early Career Teacher Resilience

A socio-cultural and critical guide to action, 1st Edition

By Bruce Johnson, Barry Down, Rosie Le Cornu, Judy Peters, Anna Sullivan, Jane Pearce, Janet Hunter


150 pages | 5 B/W Illus.

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In Promoting Early Career Teacher Resilience the stories of 60 graduate teachers are documented as they grapple with some of the most persistent and protracted personal and professional struggles facing teachers today. Narratives emerge detailing feelings of frustration, disillusionment and even outrage as they struggle with the complexity, intensity and immediacy of life in schools. Other stories also surface to show exhilarating experiences, documenting the wonder, joy and excitement of working with young people for the first time.

This book makes sense of these experiences in ways that can assist education systems, schools, and faculties of teacher education, as well as early career teachers themselves to develop more powerful forms of critical teacher resilience. Rejecting psychological explanations of teacher resilience, it endorses an alternative socio-cultural and critical approach to understanding teacher resilience. The book crosses physical borders and represents experiences of teachers in similar circumstances across the globe, providing researchers and teachers with real-life examples of resilience promoting policies and practices.

This book is not written as an account of the failures of an education system, but rather as a provocation to help generate ideas, policies and practices capable of illuminating the experiences of early career teachers in more critical and socially just ways at an international and national level.


"The book endorses an alternative socio-cultural and critical approach to understanding teacher resilience and to promoting resilience promoting policies and practices. A valuable book which should inform teaching at all levels, from students, through to practising teachers and up to administrators." - Sarah Brew, Parents in Touch

Early career teachers have often been represented in deficit terms. This important book does much to confront the outdated and damaging way that they are conceptualised. Influenced by van Manen's work on critical practice, the book is based on a five year research study of sixty Australian early career teachers. The authors explore how their construct, 'socio-cultural, critical teacher resilience,' can enable teachers new to the profession to develop a balance between their own emerging professional identities and the expectations of others in the current over-regulated neoliberal contexts in which they must work . A real strength of the book is its grounding in the personal narratives of many early career teachers. It should be essential reading for politicians, policy makers, teacher educators, teachers, pre-service teachers and community leaders.

Robyn Ewing

University of Sydney

The new teacher’s plight is often seen as stressful, and lonely—a reality that individuals are expected to bear on their own. Sadly, some sink, while others swim. However, from a different perspective—one that highlights the organizational, social, and political factors that shape a new teacher’s experience—the teacher’s success depends largely on the context in which she works. An individual who succeeds in one setting might well fail in another. With rich case studies and thoughtful analysis, Promoting Early Teacher Career Resilience, makes a compelling case for shifting reformers’ attention to the school as a workplace, thus ensuring success for many more novices.

Susan Moore Johnson

Harvard Graduate School of Education

A book with a powerful and hopeful perspective on teacher socialization: understanding early career teachers’ resilience as that outcome of thoughtful negotiations between themselves –their sense of identity, passion, commitment, expertise- on the one hand and the organizational and institutional realities of the school system on the other. By rejecting resilience as a personality trait, the authors move away from blaming the individual and manage to restore the emancipatory and professionalizing potential of the concept. Resilience is not just about bouncing back, but also bouncing forward: developing professional stamina for sustainable and committed educational practices in the teacher career.

Geert Kelchtermans

University of Leuven

Teachers everywhere have been under pressure and under scrutiny, their work has been subject to constant reform, they are increasingly positioned as classroom technicians. This book addresses a different teacher - the teacher as intellectual, as autonomous moral actor. It works to create a space, a set of possibilities, within which teachers can think. It is a thoughtful, powerful and necessary book - but also a very practical and relevant one. Every new and would-be teacher should read it.

Stephen J Ball FBA AcSS


Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction Chapter 2: Critically re-conceptualising early career teacher resilience Chapter 3: Participatory policy work Chapter 4: Rethinking the nature of early career teachers’ work Chapter 5: Reshaping school cultures for democracy and empowerment Chapter 6: When the personal is political: Contradictions and paradoxes in the relational work of early career teachers Chapter 7: Agent for change or problem child? The struggle for a satisfying identity in the early years of teaching Chapter 8: The personal, professional and political challenges involved in mobilising knowledge about early career teacher resilience Chapter 9: Conclusion

About the Authors/Editors

Bruce Johnson is Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of South Australia.

Barry Down is the City of Rockingham Chair in Education at Murdoch University, Australia.

Rosie Le Cornu is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Teacher Education at the University of South Australia.

Judy Peters is an Adjunct Lecturer in the School of Education at the University of South Australia.

Anna Sullivan is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Education at the University of South Australia.

Jane Pearce is an Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Education at Murdoch University, Australia.

Janet Hunter is a Lecturer for the School of Education at Edith Cowan University, Australia.

About the Series

Teacher Quality and School Development

With the continuing concerns of governments worldwide about teacher quality, raising standards and student well-being and citizenship, the series provides coherent, authentic, thoughtful and communicative portraits of the contexts and conditions for understanding and enhancing teacher quality and school development. The aim of this series is to bring together, disseminate and communicate original and authoritative experience and research which will ‘speak to’ teachers, teacher educators, researchers, and other research user communities such as teacher associations, and policy making/implementation organisations.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Leadership
EDUCATION / Educational Policy & Reform / General