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Factors that sustain curriculum leaders in the profession: Perspectives of secondary school agricultural and horticultural science teachers in New Zealand

With the primary industries being of national significance to the New Zealand economy, it is experienced and passionate Agricultural and Horticultural Science teachers who are needed to engage, motivate, and inspire the next generation coming through. These teachers lead learning in and out of the classroom but are also actively involved in various leadership roles that have an impact on the subject. They are curriculum leaders. It is important to understand what factors motivate and sustain their professional work, and remain in the profession. Through the positive lens of appreciative inquiry, a mixed-method approach was used with this research. Data collection was broken down into two phases. Phase One, an online questionnaire, which allowed for insight to be gathered from a wide range of respondents and Phase Two, semi-structured interviews which allowed for a deeper understanding through individual narratives. The findings from this research highlighted that the main factors that sustain these curriculum leaders is the relational aspect with the students - being part of their successes, journey and inspiring them, but also the absolute relevance of the subject content. When starting out teaching the subject, a good support network, particularly a mentor, is critical for success. Continued support is crucial for ensuring that these curriculum leaders are supported throughout their journey, regardless of their career stage, and the support received will influence motivation, engagement, and job satisfaction. No career comes without challenges and constraints with the main ones being identified as the imbalanced ratio between workload and hours in the day, and curriculum perception from the senior leadership team and colleagues. The senior leadership team has a large influence on school culture and job satisfaction and therefore retention rate. Those leaders who embrace transformational and relational leadership attributes develop trust relationships, support their staff, and allow teachers to have agency and autonomy to lead the curriculum within the subject. Strategies to address motivation and engagement in teachers are transferable, and therefore could be implemented across all curriculum areas.
Type of thesis
The University of Waikato
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