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Abstract

This article is based upon the premise that there are many veteran teachers who maintain positive attitudes towards teaching throughout their careers. According to The Grant Study (Waldinger, 2015), positive attitudes towards life and work stem from close relationships and adaptive behaviours that people engage in throughout adult life. This article describes a study undertaken in Australia which revealed that, in line with Grant Study findings, positive veteran teachers (aged 40-70+ years) build and maintain supportive social connections among colleagues in their school and others outside school, plus spouse (or long-term partner) and close family, that contribute to their sense of emotional and physical wellbeing. In a highly relational career such as teaching, our article highlights the credibility positive veteran teachers ascribe to their social connections, including the derived benefits in terms of their teaching and their own wellbeing. We then discuss the implications of the findings, including the role of school leadership in acknowledging the importance of, and fostering healthy social connections within their schools, as a way of sustaining engagement for all teachers.

Keywords

Positive Veteran Teachers, Social Connections, Adaptive Strategies, Life-Long Learning, Narrative Inquiry

Author Bio(s)

Peter F. Prout, Ph.D. is an Honorary Lecturer/Researcher in The School of Education at Edith Cowan University, Mt. Lawley, Western Australia (WA). His academic and research interests include pre-service teacher education, school leadership, community education, and mentoring teachers and leaders in schools. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: p.prout@ecu.edu.au.

Geoffrey M. Lowe is a Senior Lecturer/Researcher in the School of Education at Edith Cowan University, Mt Lawley, Western Australia (WA). He has written a number of award-winning music education reference texts, and his academic interests include motivation theories, community education and staff and student wellness. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: g.lowe@ecu.edu.au.

Christina C. Gray is a former secondary drama, dance and English teacher and now the Coordinator of Dance and Drama Education (Secondary) with the School of Education at Edith Cowan University, Western Australia. Christina’s recent research projects include: The power of connection: Identifying the role of social interaction in the coping strategies of experienced teachers; Arts-based pedagogy: Engaging children with additional needs through multi-sensory storytelling, and, Investigating the “readiness” and proficiency of beginning Arts teachers in Western Australian secondary schools. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: c.gray@ecu.edu.au.

Sarah Jefferson is a former Head of English and Literacy Co-ordinator. She is currently a Unit Co-Ordinator for the Master of Teach Secondary at Edith Cowan University. Sarah’s current research is examining the positive coping strategies of Veteran West Australian teachers. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: sarah.jefferson@ecu.edu.au.

Acknowledgements

We wish to acknowledge the advice and support for this research, including preparing this article, by friend and colleague Dr Denise Meister, currently of Albright College, Reading, Pennsylvania.

Publication Date

9-14-2019

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.

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