Micropolitical literacy in an independent school: how newly-hired teachers experience the micropolitical context of an unfamiliar educational environment

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When teachers are hired into a new educational organization, they must learn about the particular expectations and values of the school in order to find their place and be deemed an effective teacher within the local professional environment. As teachers spend time in the new organizational, or micropolitical, context, they learn how to decipher it and react accordingly in pursuit of their interests (Ball, 1987; Kelchtermans & Ballet, 2002a, 2002b). Unfortunately, teachers are often unaware of micropolitial factors that ultimately affect their effectiveness, perceived fit, and success at a school. Though each teacher brings their own set of background experiences and interests to a school, the school as an organization has norms, power structures, and established stakeholders that dictate how each teacher can pursue their interests. This study explored how newly-hired teachers in an independent school navigated the organization of the school and how they, as a result, saw themselves in relation to the organization. Micropolitical theory helped frame the organizational context in terms of the content teachers were learning and negotiating. Furthermore, micropolitical learning was used as a lens to discuss micropolitical interests, obstacles, and strategies towards achieving interests. Findings show how teachers’ backgrounds were related to their micropolitical learning and strategies. Teachers found mentors who were both close in proximity and new hires themselves most helpful. Additionally, teachers used routine and student feedback to gage their fit within the school. Finally, when considering fit and belonging, it was evident that teachers made decisions about what was or was not worth sacrificing. Based on the findings, I have offered suggestions for teacher induction, teacher education, and future research.

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Teacher education, Educational sociology, Education