Teacher career journey – Optimise

These are the key insights, opportunities, goals, drivers and blockers in the optimise phase of the teacher career journey.


The optimise phase can follow a leap of progress or it may be triggered by personal, family or life priorities outside of school. Teachers can transition back into the progress phase quickly or after an extended period of time depending on family commitments, ambitions or opportunities.


  • Teachers with families are torn between focusing on their own children or those they teach.
  • When teachers are comfortable, they see changes as a disruption and blame it on the department.
  • Teachers get bored and seek out ways to make the classroom experience more interesting.
  • Teachers struggle to maintain a work-life balance when there’s too much administration to be done.
  • Older teachers can feel stuck in the optimise phase as they feel their experience isn’t valued.


  • How might we help teachers stay relevant and avoid disenchantment because of the constantly changing world of students and education?
  • How might we help teachers better leverage the highs of student interaction and feel energised throughout?
  • How might we help teachers from different generations experience the value of one another?

In-depth research

The key jobs to be done in the optimise phase are:

“At the moment I can choose to have the day off. I don’t have to explain myself to anyone and there are no questions asked. I need that for my family and me because I have a life outside the classroom as well, and I need to get it all in order.”

  • How might we relieve teachers from time-consuming out-of-classroom tasks that have low perceived value to student outputs?
  • How might we reinforce the purpose of key out-of-classroom tasks?
  • How might we better reconcile teachers’ desire for flexibility with the rhythm of school terms?
Key blocker
  • Trying to maintain control over my non-teaching workload.
Key driver
  • Being able to prioritise life duties.
General blockers
  • Permanent teacher classroom duties are so inflexible.
  • There is an increasing number of duties I have to satisfy both in and out of the classroom.
  • Some tasks might seem small but they can disrupt my workflow.
  • It takes effort to plan, prioritise and switch between multiple teaching duties.
  • Maintaining the high quality of such a large amount of work is hard.
  • I feel like I could to do more to assist student growth.
  • I have so many time-consuming tasks to complete that have minimal impact on student outcomes.
  • I work in an environment that keeps me from being effective.
  • Having to fulfil my duty of care outside of school hours never ends.
  • It’s hard to meet the communication expectations of parents.
  • It takes effort and time to gain additional income (for example tutoring).
General drivers
  • It’s satisfying being able to focus on my personal life priorities (for example giving my dependents the best head start and enjoy a rewarding family life).
  • I’m energised and enjoy the best of teaching.
  • I enjoy new ways to make the class more engaging for myself and students.
  • I like the excitement and novelty of teaching different grades, subjects and schools.
  • I like being able to bring my other life experiences to teaching (for example working as an industrial designer, or as a teacher in France).
  • I have a sense of control and freedom over my own time.
  • cooperate with parents and carers
  • perform general administrative work
  • plan lessons and create materials
  • assess and analyse student progress
  • provide strong guidance to students
  • collaborate with colleagues
  • participate in school management.

“This is an industry where you have five generations working together in the same place. There are huge differences when you have teachers who are 65 and who are 22. There needs to be an acknowledgment of the different styles and experiences to help students with their demands and needs.”

  • How might we help teachers from different generations experience the value of one another?
  • How might we help teachers stay relevant and avoid disenchantment because of the constantly changing world of students?
Key blocker
  • The effort to keep up with a changing environment.
Key driver
  • Feeling valued for the wealth of experience I can bring.
General blockers
  • It’s a lot of effort to keep up to date with accelerated technological, organisational and curriculum changes.
  • It is discouraging when I’m overlooked for opportunities due to my age.
  • It’s difficult to connect with children growing up in today’s society.
  • I resent when my hard-earned experience is disregarded or not valued.
  • It takes effort and cost for training to maintain accreditation.
  • I feel exhausted from the unsatisfying amounts of administrative work.
General drivers
  • I’ve future-proofed my job and income-earning opportunities.
  • I feel valued for the wealth of experience I can bring.
  • I am keeping up to date with current methods so that my skills are relevant.
  • I don’t want to become irrelevant and lose my opportunity to teach children and share my knowledge.
  • I fear disruption by younger teachers.
  • I have the freedom to self-educate and learn new methods of teaching.
  • undertake learning credit
  • maintain accreditation
  • wait for retirement.

“The classroom works best when we’re learning from one another. It’s not just about the kids and how I can help them develop, it’s about how they help me gain new knowledge and learn as well. It can really make time fly. And, to be honest, I like to continue to learn. That’s what keeps me energised to teach.”

  • How might we help teachers advance ways they engage students in learning?
  • How might we help teachers impact student outcomes beyond their position and school?
  • How might we help teachers better manage prevalent behavioural issues?
Key blocker
  • Spending too much unnecessary time on tasks that don’t affect student outcomes.
Key driver
  • Satisfaction and joy of witnessing students progress emotionally and intellectually.
General blockers
  • I’m frustrated by the number of administrative duties I have to satisfy outside of the classroom.
  • It takes effort to plan, prioritise and switch between multiple teaching duties.
  • It’s hard to assess, analyse, personalise and report on individual student learning particularly for those with learning difficulties.
  • It is an effort to engage students in schools where there are prevalent behavioural issues and manage behaviours of students.
  • I feel bored by teaching the same thing over and over.
General drivers
  • I feel a sense of accomplishment through student progress.
  • I get satisfaction and joy from witnessing my student’s progress emotionally and intellectually.
  • I feel encouraged by constructive feedback.
  • I get satisfaction from experimenting with new ways of engaging students.
  • manage the classroom
  • plan lessons and create materials
  • research and experiment with new ways of engaging students
  • assess and analyse student progress
  • provide students with emotional support
  • work cooperatively with parents and carers
  • troubleshoot student behaviour difficulties
  • participate in extracurricular activities
  • collaborate with colleagues.


Job to be done: A core goal that a teacher is trying to achieve to feel progress.

Driver: A factor that motivates teachers towards achieving a job.

Blocker: A factor that stops teachers from achieving a job.

Insights: A highlighted observation of teacher behaviour.

Opportunities: A thought starter that reframes key insights into potential areas for ideation.

Tasks: Activities that must be performed in order to achieve a job.

Want to know more?

Email us at askgef@det.nsw.edu.au.

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