At the time this study was initiated, the majority of classroom music specialists in Queensland primary schools worked in more than one school. Although researchers have investigated the itinerant service delivery model in the areas of distance and special education, no studies have taken as their focus the work of itinerant music teachers. This thesis is the first to document and analyse accounts of itinerant primary music teachers working in state school settings. How do these teachers describe the everyday realities surrounding their work practices? Using an ethnomethodological framework, I utilised the tools of conversational analysis in order to investigate music teachers' descriptions of their work.
The study was conducted in three phases — a pilot study, state-wide survey, and a one-year multiple case study. First, in the latter months of 1996, I conducted semi-structured pilot interviews with twelve practising music teachers in South-East Queensland, Australia. Male and female teachers were included and were drawn from a variety of teaching contexts, worked in both frill-time and part-time capacities, and had varying lengths of teaching experience. Audio-tapes were transcribed verbatim and were subject to thematic and conversation analysis. Second, using information gained from pilot interviews, a survey was constructed and mailed to 230 teachers listed as being "itinerant". A response rate of 63% (n=145) was achieved from two mailouts in 1997. The purpose of the survey was to collect and interpret data on the work practices of itinerant primary teachers of classroom music. Namely, questions were designed to elicit data of the following types: (a) demographic data (professional qualifications and teaching experience); (b) teachers' views regarding itinerancy as a condition of work; and (c) features of work practices (for example, duties, workloads, extracurricular commitments).
Third, throughout 1997, I conducted a multiple case study with six music teachers — five women and one man — working in a variety of teaching contexts (that is, rural and metropolitan areas and different socioeconomic settings). Five of the teachers worked in a full-time capacity, and one worked part-time. All were itinerant and had varying lengths of teaching experience and different pre-service training. Data for the study were generated in a variety of ways: (a) audio and/or video-recording of naturally occurring events during the school day (for example, music lessons and/or rehearsals); (b) audio-recording of conversations between participants and the researcher; (c) journal writing; (d) official documents; and (e) field notes of observations made during field work.
My analyses focus principally on the sense-making procedures and the moral organisation and reasoning practices that my informants and I use in talk. I treat the interviews and other occasions from which transcripts are excerpted as socially situated occasions in which speakers negotiate identifies, display knowledge of a cultural world in common, and characterise talk to jointly build a corpus of research knowledge. Foundational to this thesis is a conceptual understanding of the utilisation of a vocabulary new to the field of teachers' work with which to examine accounts.
The application of conversation analytic tools to the analyses of data reveals the 'scenic practices' utilised by teachers to produce descriptive accounts. These include 'complaints', 'troubles talk', 'lists' and 'atrocity tales'. Analyses produced reveal the categories and practical reasoning attached to school worlds in which these music teachers work. Hence, the cultural particulars concerning the social organisation and moral order of a given world — in this case, the moral universe of music teaching in the primary school — are made visible. In this thesis I argue that accounts assembled by speakers may be viewed as 'possible worlds' in which speakers produce different versions of 'what could be' and how the social order 'might be arranged.'
The application of conversation analytic procedures to data generated in this study is significant for two reasons. First, the conversation analytic approach taken in this study, apart from being unique in the field of music education, provides new ways of theorising teachers' accounts of work. This approach demonstrates a new vocabulary for talking about teachers' work. Although this thesis concerns one specific group within the teaching community, this approach might also be applied to the study of any teacher's work. Second, this thesis contributes to an understanding of the researcher's role in the co-production and generation of research data. This finding is significant for any researcher using the interview as a way of generating data — irrespective of the method of data analysis employed.
This thesis also contributes to the literature of teachers' work in that it provides some insight into teachers' emotions and teachers' work practices during a period of substantial change. By illuminating the complexities of the role and place of one group of specialist teachers in primary school settings, findings from this research are of significance to policy-makers. As a result of a recognition of the increasing need for the employment of more specialist teachers and para-professionals to assist classroom teachers in their work, one significant question yet to be addressed concerns how specialist services might most effectively be delivered in schools. This thesis provides accounts concerning how specialist services were delivered by one group of teachers in the mid-1990s. Findings from this study highlight the need to examine more closely not only how specialist teachers' work is accomplished in school settings, but also what outcomes result for students.