In search of the Middle School Teacher: What differentiates the middle school teacher from primary and secondary school teachers
This study investigates ‘middle schooling’, in particular, the attributes of the middle school teacher and what differentiates the middle school teacher from other teachers: primary and secondary school teachers. This notion of a middle school teacher with its own unique set of attributes sheds new light on the centrality of the teacher in this reform. So much so, that it is challenging the default position that the attributes of the teacher are generic and not usually differentiated from other teachers. Teachers in this phase of education are focused on early adolescence in what is broadly defined in the Australian literature as ‘the middle years of schooling’. During the 1990s and into the present there are persistent and unyielding calls for schools to re-structure, re-culture and reform learning and teaching practices that focus on improving student outcomes. The purpose of this study is concerned with creating the conditions that support a different type of teacher who is responsive to the developmental needs of young adolescents and to develop a model based on the understanding of these conditions. The study was undertaken in South Eastern Queensland. The topic was researched out of professional interest in the middle years and the central role the teacher plays in improving student learning outcomes. This study makes a significant contribution to the current conceptualisation of the middle school teacher which is currently vague and informed by myth and intuit, rather than empirical findings. The study aims to generate data and develop theory concerning the attributes of the middle school teacher.
Submitted in the fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, University of the Sunshine Coast, 2010.