Becoming a teacher in Australia: reflections on ‘the resilience factor’ in teacher professional development and teacher retention in the 1940s and at the beginning of the twenty-first century

  • Yvonne Reed WITS
Keywords: Early career teacher retention, attrition rates, teacher resilience


Early career teacher retention and attrition rates have implications for the provision of quality education. Recent investigations of why some teachers survive and thrive while others leave the profession, disillusioned and/or burnt out, have identified ‘resilience’ as a key factor in teachers’ personal and professional growth and commitment to a long-term career in education. This paper uses data from a demonstration lessons notebook compiled by a student teacher in 1942, accompanied by lesson commentary from her supervising teachers, a teachers’ college handbook c.1943 and interviews with the compiler of the notebook to tell the story of an entrant into the teaching profession in the Australian state of Victoria in the 1940s. Her story is compared with findings from studies which focus on early career teachers in several Australian states in the first decade of the twenty-first century. The comparisons indicate that while resilience is a key factor in the personal and professional growth of teachers entering the profession sixty years apart, perhaps unsurprisingly, there are more differences than similarities in the nature of the challenges experienced by a novice teacher in the 1940s and several cohorts of early career teachers at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The paper concludes with some suggestions for nurturing teacher resilience and long-term commitment to the profession which could be considered by teacher educators and school leaders globally, with adaptations for addressing the specific challenges of the local.

Author Biography

Yvonne Reed, WITS
Research Articles