ABSTRACT

A third way of thinking about a teacher’s career to be discussed here is in terms of psychological stages that a teacher goes through. Huberman (1992) attempts to map out possible psychological stages that a teacher can go through. This model works as follows. Basically, on entry to the profession, teachers are likely to be preoccupied with survival and discovery and characterised by initial enthusiasm. There then follows a period of stabilisation, where a teacher decides to remain in teaching and gains in proficiency and competence. This is the time when a teacher becomes socialised into the norms of the profession. The stage of stabilisation can lead into a greater willingness to experiment and extend the professional repertoire and a desire for new challenges. However, there is also the possibility that stabilisation can give way to self-doubt and re-appraisal or that a period of experimentation can lead this way. In other words, there is the possibility of a mid-career crisis of some kind. There can then follow phases of serenity (where people can gradually lose energy but gain in self-confidence and self-acceptance), or conservatism (where people become nostalgic, resistant to change and compare their present situation unfavourably with what existed in the past). Finally, there comes a period of contented or bitter disengagement as other concerns become increasingly important. While this model is to be regarded somewhat tentatively, it does highlight that professional development may have a role in helping teachers to go through successive psychological stages in a smooth and contented way. For example, it could help to provide new challenges for someone who has ‘stabilised’ in the profession and who, without these challenges, may fall prey to self-doubt.