Teachers' professional life phases:
a research informed view of
career long effectiveness
Our analysis of teachers' professional life phases, revealed that they are an important influence in teachers' work, lives and effectiveness; and that variations in teachers' perceived effectiveness can be understood by examining teachers, and groups of teachers, within and between particular phases of their professional lives. We identified key influences on teachers' work in different professional life phases, and the differential impact of these on teachers' commitment and perceived effectiveness. Understanding the impact of such interaction between the influences of teachers' professional life phases and identities, and the mediating factors in these: the situated (workplace), the professional (ideals and policies) and the personal (life experiences and events), was central to achieving an understanding of what causes variations in teachers' professional lives and effectiveness.
The VITAE work on the progression of teachers' professional lives, builds on Huberman's (1993) seminal study of the lives of Swiss secondary school teachers, which has been widely cited for its development of a non-linear empirically-based schematic model of a five-phase teaching career cycle. We found that teachers' work and lives spanned six professional life phases – 0–3, 4–7, 8–15, 16–23, 24–30 and 31+ years of teaching. The division of the six phases was grounded in our empirical data, collected and analysed over the three-year field work phase of VITAE, and informed by an extensive review of previous studies on teachers' careers and professional development. 'Professional life phase' refers to the number of years that a teacher has been teaching. Although years of experience generally relates closely to a teacher's age, some teachers have less experience than might be expected for