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The Innovative Teacher - A Pilot Project

Conference contribution
Authors Helena Sagar
Pernilla Lagerlöf
Kristina Mårtensson
Karin Rönnerman
Published in Paper presented at NERA-conference 6-8 March, 2019, Uppsala University
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Education, Communication and Learning
Department of Education and Special Education
Department of Physics (GU)
Language en
Keywords innovative teacher, trust, professional activism, agency
Subject categories Pedagogical Work


The aim of this paper is to present a pilot study on innovative teachers. Through narratives written after interviews with four first teachers in Sweden, common aspects recurring in all narratives will be focused. Research questions: How do first teachers talk about their teacher training? How do first teachers talk about their students? How does teacher agency get visible in the first teacher’s professional role? To what extent does the first teacher describe him-/herself as innovative? What are requirements for providing support to the innovative teacher? Which words / terms do first teachers use to describe themselves as innovative? Theoretical framework The theoretical framework covers theories on the teacher professional development in general (Day & Sachs, 2004) and specifically agency and professional activism (Sachs, 2003) as well as professional development through teacher inquiry (Mockler & Sachs, 2011). Methodological design Four first teachers, ranging from preschool to upper secondary school, were interviewed using the same interview guide containing open-ended questions. Each researcher transcribed her interview and prepared a written narrative based on the interview questions. The narratives were orally presented to all researchers during a collaborative session, during which notes were taken by one of the researchers. The notes were discussed collaboratively and iteratively screened for common aspects to a point where themes could be identified. The themes were then illustrated by quotes from each researcher’s narrative to illustrate and validate the themes and common understanding of them. Additionally, separate quotes were added with the aim of finding similarities and differences between the different school levels. Expected conclusions/findings Preliminary findings are that there is an overlap between school levels regarding the way in which the teachers describe themselves as innovative teachers. Four themes were found; a) recognition of each student’s strengths and interests as the main resource in his/her learning b) creating trusting relations to both students and colleagues c) a holistic view on knowledge and education d) curiosity and inquiry as driving forces for school and professional development. Relevance to Nordic educational research This research has a strong relevance to the Nordic context due to the first teacher reform; a new career pathway for teachers, particularly in Sweden and Norway. Criteria for selection of first teachers are based on your interest and competence in school and professional development, i.e. being an innovative teacher, rather than a formal educational degree. Additionally, the innovative teacher may be central for pedagogic entrepreneurship, as specified by the Nordic Council of Ministers (2016), which in turn is essential for sustainable growth of our societies.

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