Understanding the role of teachers in providing welfare care for learners : a teacher's self-study.
This self-study research focused on the role of the teacher in relation to providing welfare care. I considered welfare care from a theoretical perspective of Ubuntu, which allowed me to see that, in enacting welfare care, it is imperative that teachers acknowledge and bring out the human element in themselves and others. I was the central participant in this self-study, together with three professional colleagues at my school. My critical friends, my fellow students, participated by sparking new ideas and helping me to gain other perspective. I used the memory-work self-study method to recall my lived experiences and explore my motivation for providing welfare care. Multiple data sources, such as letters, cards, photographs and my reflective journal, provided evidence to assist me in understanding my passion for welfare care. Three main themes arose from my memory stories: a) attentiveness; b) empathy; c) encouragement; and d) nurturing. I went on to explore how my fellow teachers and I were enacting welfare care at my school. Conversations with my teacher participants demonstrated that teachers were enacting welfare care at my school by: a) connecting nutrition with learning; b) making provision for school uniforms and stationery for learners; c) bringing on board sponsors, NGOs, religious organisations and businesses as a support base; d) providing sports, games and excursions; and e) attending to the medical, emotional and social development needs of learners. Using collage as an arts-based self-study technique, I found that teachers can be better supported in enacting welfare care for learners through: a) community support and engagement; b) continuing professional teacher development for psychosocial and emotional support; and c) teacher leadership for welfare care. Overall, this study has highlighted how teachers are spending a great deal of time and energy in making provision for meeting learners’ basic needs such as nutrition, school uniforms and stationery, and medical care. This study has enabled me to acknowledge that learners and teachers are likely to perform better if these basic needs could be met for all learners through more extensive programmes involving all relevant stakeholders. Through this self-study, I have also realised that teachers, school management and other stakeholders need adequate knowledge and skills for enacting welfare care. Most significantly, this study has confirmed for me that enacting welfare care requires teachers to be compassionate and understanding and to show empathy towards learners.