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The Changing Nature of Teachers’ Work and Its Impact on Wellbeing

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Critical Perspectives on Teaching, Learning and Leadership

Abstract

The world is in the midst of an unprecedented technological revolution and changes are underway on a vast scale with digitalisation transforming economies, governments and societies in complex, interrelated and often unpredictable ways. These changes are fundamentally altering how people live, interact and work and are inevitably affecting how we do our work, thus requiring a transformation in design and delivery. Teaching is not immune to this revolution; in fact, it must play a critical part to prepare young people for innovative, productive and socially just futures. Yet teaching is a highly complex profession. Australia’s graduating teachers are entering the workforce at a time of unprecedented change, increased education opportunity and overwhelming complexity. They start their teaching degrees wanting to contribute positively to learning and engagement with young people but are often overwhelmed with the complexity of their roles and can grapple with professional identity, poor school literacy and numeracy and declines in student engagement in schools. We know that teaching is one of the most rewarding careers a person can encounter, yet it is one with increasing levels of workload; high levels of accountability, measurement and administration; is experiencing new challenges in student and parent behaviours; and is a rapid ever-changing digital and global sector. This chapter highlights that twenty-first-century skills are required to prepare today’s young people for New Work Smarts in 2030 and beyond, yet teachers’ health and wellbeing may be at risk because of this pursuit. Research in Australia and Canada has been undertaken on how well teachers feel they are prepared to manage their work by sampling early career teachers, mid-career teachers and those in leadership roles. A well-educated population is key to a nation’s prosperity, peace and human flourishing, and thus high-quality teachers must be attracted and retained, and the extent to which this is achieved is highly dependent on their wellbeing.

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Acknowledgements

An early draft of this chapter was presented at the 2019 Australian Association for Research in Education Conference, Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove, Brisbane. The author wishes to thank Dr. I Gusti Ngurah Darmawan for his critical review of the book chapter. Thanks are also due to Associate Professor Mathew White for technical editing of the manuscript. The author wishes to acknowledge the teachers who participated in the three case study sites for the research on teacher and employee wellbeing. The author wishes to acknowledge Dr. Deborah Price as co-researcher of the Case Study Two project.

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McCallum, F. (2020). The Changing Nature of Teachers’ Work and Its Impact on Wellbeing. In: White, M.A., McCallum, F. (eds) Critical Perspectives on Teaching, Learning and Leadership. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-6667-7_2

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