The Principal's Role in Building Positive Teacher Identity in Early Career Public School Teachers
Foulds, Gregory A.
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As school teaching staffs become increasingly younger, the role principals play in helping teachers develop a positive teaching identity in the first five years of their careers becomes even more important. The purpose of this study is to examine the principals’ role in building positive teacher identity in early career public school teachers. Teachers who create positive teaching identities are more likely to have higher job satisfaction and are more likely to remain in the profession. This study examined school leadership and the areas in which principals can exert influence on the formation of positive teaching identity. The research questions for this study examine the principal’s role in new teacher job satisfaction and efficacy; a principals’ sphere of influence on new teachers, mentoring and teacher induction; the principal’s role in instructional support, teacher empowerment, building teacher relationships, trust and organizational commitment. The methods for this study included the facilitation of focus groups that provided the data collection source. Two focus groups with eleven participants total were convened one time each; one for principals, and one for the teachers who work together with them. The conversations were audio-taped, transcribed, and summarized. Common themes and connections were made between and across focus groups. This study is significant because teachers need to develop positive teaching identities in order to be successful in their profession. Principals have significant influence over the identity of early career teachers. Themes found in the participant responses included communication, support, relationship building, honesty, trust, visibility and mentoring. The themes and conclusions drawn from them can be used as items for reflection to inform individual practice, and provide some insight into the formation of positive teaching identity. Further research could examine in greater depth, these, and other possible aspects of positive teacher identity formation.