Teachers who break the mould
We use the term 'breaking the mould' to describe those teachers whose effectiveness in promoting their pupils' academic progress is relatively better than predicted on the basis of the characteristics of the pupils they teach, or who are improving in their relative effectiveness. In addition we explore relationships between relative effectiveness and two important themes of the research: professional life phase and identity.
A number of portraits were selected of teachers with different degrees of relative effectiveness, based on our value added results and from a range of school contexts. They are included in this chapter to illustrate the variation in profiles and experiences, and some of the connections that we found to help illuminate patterns of change or stability, in relative effectiveness over the three years of the research. We believe that these illustrate the complexity of differences in the professional and personal experiences of teachers, their management of these, and their own perceptions and understandings of the influences on their work and lives. The case studies chosen support the main conclusion we drew from the systematic comparison of the more and less effective groups of teachers identified by VITAE, that there is no single causal explanation for the extent of variation in teachers' relative effectiveness to be found in terms of specific personal, pupil, professional or policy factors. Different teachers appear to respond differently to the combinations of influences, and show varying degrees of resilience and ways of managing work–life balance and tensions, and the increasing complexities and challenges that affect individuals at various points in their professional life phases. Some teachers seem to succeed against the odds in the face of very difficult pressures. By contrast a few, despite apparently more favourable circumstances, may be rather less effective. Nonetheless, patterns were found that