Professional well-being and learning: a study of teacher-peer workplace relationships
AbstractThis is a companion article to an earlier one in JEE (Butt and Retallick 2002) which focused on administrator-teacher workplace relationships in relation to professional well-being and learning. Whilst retaining the inquiry theme of professional well-being and learning, here we shift the focus of the data analysis to the workplace relationships of teachers and their peers. This focus is significant in the context of increasing interest in collaboration amongst teachers as a key source of their professional learning, along with widespread moves to rethink the nature of schools as learning communities where workplace relationships based on collegiality and trust, rather than hierarchy, are paramount (eg Mitchell & Sackney 2000; Retallick et al 1999; Sackney 2003).
The major purpose of this article, then, is to portray the essential structures and processes (see Polkinghorne 1983) of teachersâ€™ experiences of work-life relationships with their fellow teachers. Themes discerned from the interpretation of autobiographical data taken from teachersâ€™ professional life stories with regard to positive and negative relationships were used to identify what collegial initiatives and actions are perceived by teachers to lead to professional well-being and productive learning in the workplace. In this article, we have investigated the most predominant meta-theme which appeared in the data in relation to teachersâ€™ sense of satisfaction and dissatisfaction with their work lives â€“ that of intercollegial relationships.