Beacons of Hope

Lessons we can learn from resilient teachers

by Andrew Pearce (Author)
©2022 Monographs XVIII, 242 Pages


Whilst there is a significant and growing body of literature on teacher resilience, there is considerably less literature on why long service career teachers choose to stay in their profession. This book aims to explore, through the personal narratives of four resilient long service teachers, why this might be and it has implications for school leaders, pupil attainment, policy makers, ITE educators and of course, both pre-service and inservice teachers. The book identifies key themes and lessons which emerge from their stories and makes a number of recommendations which may benefit a range of stakeholders, not the least of which are teachers themselves. Throughout this book, which is based on the author’s doctoral research, the concept of teacher professional identity emerges as a framework which offers considerable promise to those investigating the resilience of teachers. This book contends that the manifestation of a professional identity, which enables teachers to construct, reconstruct and manage multiple identities over time, will be crucial to teachers’ ongoing resilience if they are to continue to function purposefully and effectively, in the future.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Figures
  • Foreword – Dr Jonathan Doherty
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgements
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Introduction: Towards a rationale: How did this book come about?
  • CHAPTER 1: The author’s own story
  • CHAPTER 2: Towards a definition of ‘resilience’: A survey of key literature
  • CHAPTER 3: Teacher professional identity: A paradigm for approaching resilience?
  • Listening to the voices
  • CHAPTER 4: Listening to the voices: Adam’s story
  • CHAPTER 5: Listening to the voices: Jane’s story
  • CHAPTER 6: Listening to the voices: Mike’s story
  • CHAPTER 7: Listening to the voices: Steve’s story
  • CHAPTER 8: A quartet of voices: Further reflections on the stories
  • CHAPTER 9: Learning from the stories: What lessons can we learn?
  • CHAPTER 10: Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Index

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Foreword – Dr Jonathan Doherty

I am delighted to write the foreward for this important and thoroughly engaging book. I have known Andrew as a friend and a colleague over a number of years working together on professional programmes at Leeds Trinity University. In all of this time Andrew’s passion for teacher development, his gift of working naturally with teachers and trainee teachers and his professionalism have shone through in all aspects of his work. This book, arising from his doctoral thesis, discusses the critical theme of teacher resilience. It is written at a time when figures show high levels of teacher exodus from the profession they entered into, bringing energy and their dreams of impacting positively upon the lives of young people. Sadly, the demands of teaching have taken their toll on many excellent teachers with empirical evidence from abroad and across the four UK jurisdictions revealing that retaining teachers is an international challenge and one that continues to escalate. Essential for the success and sustainability of all schools, teacher retention is one of the key challenges currently facing schools today (Doherty, 2020).

The book fills an important gap in the literature from the outset. It flips the deficit picture of teacher attrition and provides a compelling narrative on a key factor of teacher retention: that of resilience. This is unique since most other literature has focussed on the former and in particular early career teachers leaving (e.g. Shields & Mullen, 2020) at the expense of teachers with a longer records of service. Readers will immediately connect with the author who begins with his own story and this provides an honesty and candour throughout the book. The stance taken in writing is through the exploration of the personal narratives of four secondary teachers. By doing this, Andrew will empower and inspire readers with his reflections of his own experiences, before going on to unpack the narratives of these long service teachers. This has immediate appeal to teachers in the early stages of their careers, benefitting from his wisdom and the messages contained in the narratives act as a support for more experienced teachers whose own resilience may be at risk after many years of teaching. The ‘voices’ which emerge from the narrative interviews with the four participants, provides an easy structure to the book that is both captivating and informing.

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The nefarious theme of resilience is brought to life through the voices of these classroom teachers. It confirms that resilience is a multi-dimensional and multifaceted human construct which defies overly simplistic considerations (Day & Gu, 2009) and that there is much teachers can do with regard to their agency to ensure that they develop and manage their own resilience. The author introduces the important and parallel theme of teacher identity and confirms the importance of developing a robust professional identity in order to strengthen resilience (Mansfield et al., 2020). The book highlights the need for teachers to construct and reconstruct their professional identities. As the author argues, if teacher professional identity is indeed an ongoing discourse between the ‘personal’ and ‘professional’ aspects of becoming and remaining a teacher, then the ramifications of this upon teacher resilience developed in this book remain highly significant. I agree wholeheartedly with Andrew when he says that in already heavily prescribed Initial Teacher Education programmes, providers need to make certain that early career teachers are given the opportunity to explore their own professional teacher identities. This will enable new teachers to ensure that their beliefs and values remain a source of inner strength for themselves professionally, rather than a perpetual source of tension. In this way, they will be more fully prepared to respond with resilience to potential adversity and challenge. Squandering such an opportunity is likely to result in a high number of early career teachers continuing to leave the profession at an alarming rate.

The style of writing in this book is thoroughly engaging. Even the title, ‘Beacons of hope: Lessons we can learn from resilient teachers’ is uplifting. Its structure is accessible. Its messages are clear. It digs deep and it challenges thinking. The contribution that this book makes is undeniable. The book makes a significant contribution to knowledge on teacher resilience. Reported findings deserve the attention of school leaders, line managers, teaching unions, teacher educators and teachers. The recommendations made must surely make a positive impact on education policy and practice. I fully commend the author for this excellent book and know it will make an important contribution to new knowledge on resilience and professional identity in teacher education.

Dr. Jonathan Doherty

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The aim of this book on teacher resilience is to explore why some secondary school teachers in England choose to remain in teaching when a significant number decide to leave (Burghes et al., 2009). A similar attrition rate for both the USA (Yost, 2006) and other OECD countries has been evidenced (DfE, 2015; OECD, 2005b; 2011; 2016). There is considerable research on why some teachers may leave the teaching profession, but there is much less literature on why other teachers choose to remain, especially from teachers with long service. My book aims to explore, through the personal narratives of four resilient long service teachers, why this might be, and it has implications for school leaders, pupil attainment, policy makers, and of course, both pre-service and in-service teachers. The book goes on to critically analyse four themes which overlap with the author’s own experience as a former teacher, as well as with literature. The penultimate chapter makes a number of recommendations which may benefit a range of stakeholders, not the least of which are teachers themselves. Throughout this book the concept of teacher professional identity emerges as a framework which offers considerable promise to those investigating the resilience of teachers, and it is suggested that the manifestation of a professional identity which enables teachers to construct, reconstruct and manage multiple identities over time will be crucial to their ongoing resilience if they are to continue to function effectively in the future.

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I would like to express my heartfelt thanks and gratitude to my supervisors, Dr Caroline Bligh and Dr Samantha Davis. Thank you for your optimism, kindness and encouragement as well as for helping me to overcome barriers and obstacles along the way. Dr David Matheson also helped supervise at an earlier stage in my research.

I would also like to thank the four participants who kindly agreed to take part in this study. Without them this research simply would not have been possible. I hope this study does justice to their willingness to share their individual stories with me and that their voices will be heard.

Dr Jonathan Doherty kindly agreed to write the forward for my book and I would like to thank him personally, for his friendship, guidance, wisdom and support in wishing to see this book come to fruition.

Last but not least, a special thanks to my family for all their support during the course of this book. I would particularly like to express my immense appreciation to my wife, Kathleen, my daughter, Yvonne, my son, Mark, and daughter-in-law, Susie, for their love and support, continued interest in my work, and for their kindness and encouragement which enabled me to complete this book.

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A Level

Advanced Level


Building Resilience in Teacher Education


Continuing Professional Development


Department for Education


Further Education


General Certificate of Secondary Education


Information & Communication Technology


Initial Teacher Education


Local Education Authority


Multi-Academy Trust


Masters in Education


Newly Qualified Teacher


Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development


XVIII, 242
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2022 (October)
Teacher resilience teacher professional identity Beacons of hope Lessons we can learn from resilient teachers Andrew Pearce
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Wien, 2022. XVIII, 242 pp., 4 fig. b/w.

Biographical notes

Andrew Pearce (Author)

Dr Andrew Pearce has taught in a number of schools across the north of England and for much of that time was a Head of Humanities, Religious Education and PSHCE. He has been a senior lecturer at Leeds Trinity University for eleven years, and specializes in teacher professional learning. He currently teaches on a range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes and when not working, enjoys spending time with his family, and pursues a number of interests and hobbies including walking, film, music and military history. As a Welshman who has enjoyed living and working in Yorkshire for over thirty years he occasionally has a conflicted sense of identity, but when it comes to watching sport, his Welsh origins usually come to the fore.


Title: Beacons of Hope
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