Occurrence Of The Out-Of-Field Teaching Phenomenon
Placement or assignment of teachers in out-of-field positions might be seen as a crisis management or “snapshot” strategies, carried out by school-leaders to solve staffing problems when they have no other option. Out-of-field teaching phenomenon is an international problem, mostly overlooked by school-leaders in their school improvement strategies and policies.
The phenomenon presents difficulties in efforts to achieve quality education and equity for all students in, as well as frustrating quality leadership within schools (Plessis, 2017). Each school has their need but they need to prioritize filling teaching positions accordingly. Unsuitably placed teachers who are struggling can complicate an already complex system of constantly changing curricula and procedures (Plessis, 2017). Educational leaders’ awareness of the value of “hire for fit” strategies when assigning teachers is crucial. As Ingersoll (1999a, pp. 28-37) puts it: “Few would require cardiologist to deliver babies, real estate lawyers to defend criminal cases, chemical engineers to design bridges, or sociology professors to teach English. ” Similarly, parents would not want their children to be taught English by teachers who did not have any formal higher education or training in English. Regrettably, this happens regularly, as the out-of-field phenomenon seems to be an acceptable practice in public and independent schools. However, the way it can erode healthy and effective learning and teaching environments often goes unnoticed (Plessis, 2017). Early career teachers or those who have just begun in the academe for having recently graduated are initially given teaching loads apart from their specialization (Harris & Jensz, 2006). This may last for a long time depending on the necessity to fill in the teaching load while there is no suitably qualified professional to fill in the position yet.
Education programs did not involve equipping future teachers for the out-of-field phenomenon. However, the overall goal is to be able to produce adaptable, well-informed, and capable teachers (AITSL, 2014) signified by a teacher embracing the identity of teacher-as-researcher-learner. The teacher stands to be impacted on by out-of-field teaching, although government leadership or other members of the school community may not always acknowledge this impact. Teacher identity, self-efficacy, attitudes and motivations, well-being, knowledge and practice, are key variables that must be scrutinized in order to understand the complex and individual experience of what it means to teach out-of-field. In other countries, there are national or state based accreditation processes for teachers, however, despite these regulations for certification it is up to the discretion of the Principal to assign subjects and year levels to teachers. Assigning unsuitably qualified teachers in certain position has a significant influence on teachers’ out-of-field experience, and what it means for effective learning (Plessis, 2017). Well-qualified and well-trained teachers have stated that teaching unfamiliar subjects without specialized or intensive assistance from experts leave them feeling exposed.
The absence of such support transforms previous experts into mere textbook followers, with diminished performance, reduced to teaching for survival. This situation not only creates uncertainty and instability among staff members, but changes school environments into spaces too complex to effectively manage (Plessis, 2017). Teachers who welcomes challenges as opportunities lean to chances of being enthused over additional professional development. This could result to wide scale of knowledge, expanded opportunities for practice, and leveled up professional identity. On the other hand self-concerned teachers tend to be more negative about workshops, additional training, and sharing their dilemma and difficulties with colleagues. This means that out-of-field phenomenon adversely affects the most important resource in education: well-established and appropriately qualified teachers (Plessis, 2017). Moreover, it has been proven that teacher tactfulness, connectedness, and awareness of the various student needs is considered to be an essential element of successful learning (Van Manen, 1991; Lingard, 2007). This is what leads to the transformation of the community, more especially that of the students who are gradually turned into democratic inclusive citizens (Barr & Smith, 2009).
Furthermore, results of a study on the trends in international mathematics and science in 2011 showed significant differences between the performance of in-field and out-of-field Science teachers in teaching an integrated subject of natural and social science based on their self-efficacy beliefs. In-field teachers projects higher self-efficacy beliefs in teaching as compared with out-of-field teachers. Based on the assumption that teachers are a relevant factor affecting children’s learning outcomes, models were developed to describe the competencies required by teachers in the classroom such as “motivational, metacognitive, and self-regulatory characteristics, which are considered decisive for the willingness to act” (Baumert & Kunter, 2013).
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