Kaye Turning the Tide on Marginal Teaching
Kaye, E. B. (2004). Turning the tide on marginal teaching. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 19(3), 234-258.
• Definition of the marginal teacher: A teacher whose practice borders incompetence and requires change.
Background and Purpose of this Study
• This study was conducted in Canada.
• Question: "What were the experiences and perceptions of teachers when working with professional colleagues whose teaching performance was perceived to be marginal (p. 238)?"
• Data Collection and Analysis
o Claims to be mixed methods
o Devices included:
• Survey to identify perceptions teachers have of how administrators should respond to marginal teaching
• Semi-structured phone interviews
o Response Rate
• Statistical Analyses of Survey Data
o Pedagogical Impact of Marginal Teaching
• Teachers perceived that marginal teaching had a negative impact on students' social, emotional, and academic wellbeing.
• Teachers perceived that even though marginal teaching puts an enormous burden on school resources, the collegiality, congeniality, and job satisfaction improved.
o Responses to Marginal Teaching
• Compensatory included decreased class sizes, fewer special education students, and re-assignment either within the school or to another school. The purpose is to minimize impact of marginal teaching or rather minimize detrimental effects.
• Formative responses purpose is to support the change process. They come from administration and include professional development opportunities and communication regarding marginal teaching performance and status.
• Normative responses come from peers to support the teacher and attempt to achieve growth. Such practices include assistance, observation of teaching, and purposeful involvement in discussions among staff members.
• Disciplinary responses come in two forms overt and covert. They occur when employment action is needed. An overt response is the dismissal of the teacher. Covert responses are encouragement for retirement, resignation, or reassignment.
• Qualitative Analyses of Interview Data
o Flotsam Marginal Teaching
• Knowingly teaching in an unskilled manner
• Usually temporary
• Beginning teachers or those who are in a new position tend to demonstrate flotsam marginal teaching
• Desire to improve and will seek resources to do so
• Tend to reflect on practice
• Prefer collaborative assistance
o Jetsam Marginal Teaching
• Curricular changes and/or other mandate changes without support leaves some teachers frustrated and unmotivated. These left-by-the-wayside teachers fall into this category.
• They diminish hope and de-motive themselves and others.
• They typically have given up and forfeited trying.
• They are aware of their inept teaching practices but do not have the drive to change.
• Others contributed to their marginality.
o Club Med Marginal Teaching
• They exhibit unacceptable work ethic and effort towards teaching. They are described as lazy and uncaring.
• They have no desire to improve.
• They are unconscious about their marginality, often viewing themselves as being hard working.
• They seldom change and administration rarely interferes.
• Relevant Responses to Marginal Teaching
o Marginal teachers have ownership over their ability to change.
o Teachers want professional privacy yet isolation fosters marginal teaching.
• The Field of Tension
o Teachers felt that unions barred intervention of administration when attempting to deal with marginal teaching.
o Teachers have tension regarding Club Med marginal teachers because they are torn between moral obligations to children and the fairness of what is considered right.
• Rethinking Accountability as a Moral Act
• Ideally the marriage of professional accountability and moral accountability will give birth to a school culture that promotes growth and change. Such a marriage is not free of conflict, but it does create the ideal match for the production of a healthy work environment for teachers.
This study seems to solely be based on perception. What about actual impact of marginal teaching on students' social, emotional, and academic wellbeing, school culture?
Why do teachers perceive that the collegiality, congeniality, and job satisfaction improved as a result of marginal teaching?
The compensatory strategies appear to reward marginal teachers. The burden of mentoring and taking on additional students appears to fall on the shoulders of competent teachers. Kaye briefly addresses this issue on p. 251 referring to the possibility that they could be a "hidden reward system for marginality." To refute such a claim, she follows it by stating, "The moral relationship between teachers and students founded on an expectation of caring underscores this dilemma." "This tension between fairness and rightness caused discomfort for teachers and warrants further exploration (p. 253)."
Teachers perceived that administrators were not intervening with Club Med marginal teachers, yet they felt that their actions were appropriate when dealing with other marginal teachers. Are administrators really not intervening or are teachers simply unaware of the happenings due to the sensitive nature of this type or marginal teacher or is it possible that they are not perceiving change because this type of marginal teacher is unaware that his/her behavior is anything less than appropriate. As a result, s/he is not changing practice and therefore others perceive that no intervention is occurring. Where as with the other forms of marginality, change is possible and most likely more visible.