Repository logo
 

For the love of teaching!: narratives of teacher identity and teacher emotion of learning support teachers.

Loading...
Thumbnail Image

Date

2021

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Abstract

There is a growing need to develop teachers in the field of inclusive education. This thesis presents an exploration and understanding of the stories and lived experiences of learning support teachers. Given that this qualitative study aimed to unearth the multiplicity of teacher identity and deep-rooted nature of teacher emotion through narrative inquiry; and how these relate to career phases and inclusive pedagogical choices, a tree metaphor is used to present this dissertation. Embedded in an interpretive paradigm, the narratives of seven learning support teachers in Pietermaritzburg were constructed. Semi-structured interviews, self-boxes, Tree-of –Life drawings and vignettes were used as data generating instruments. Thematic data analysis resulted in the construction of rich and thick narratives of participants which enabled a glimpse of their lives in order to understand their teacher identities as learning support teachers. The frameworks that informed this study were Day and Kington’s (2008) structure on the dimensions of teacher identity which analysed the personal and professional identities of learning support teachers, Zembylas’ (2002) theory on the genealogies of teacher emotion which was used to locate participants’ emotions within an individual, social or socio-political context; and Day and Gu’s (2007) framework on Professional Life Phases of teachers which was used to compare and contrast the narratives of participants against typical teacher profiles by career age. The findings of this study show that not only do the identities of learning support teachers fluctuate within the personal, professional and situated dimensions of teacher identity, but they are also deeply interconnected, shaped by critical influences and are resilient in nature. This study revealed a fourth dimension of teacher identity: a counter-narrative that described elements of a concealed or fragmented identity. With regards to teacher emotion, learning support teachers were found to be emotionally invested in their work and they therefore reported feeling either positively motivated or negatively disempowered in the workplace as a result of this emotional investment. Furthermore, the constant need for learning support teachers to negotiate emotional boundaries stimulated reflective practice and the formation of emotional relationships (‘bonds’) between themselves and others at school. Largely-negative emotional experiences made learning support teachers feel vulnerable and inhibited their willingness to adapt and improve their teaching practice, whilst largely-positive emotional experiences made them feel self-confident and encouraged learning support teachers’ to adapt and improve their teaching practice. Weak emotional bonds demotivated learning support teachers and made them less productive whilst strong emotional bonds promoted higher work engagement and productivity. The findings from applying Day and Gu’s (2007) framework on the professional life phases of teachers to the participants’ narratives resulted in a common theme. The narratives indicated that being a learning support teacher is ultimately, a journey of self-discovery. Additionally, learning support teachers identified ‘teamwork and collaboration’ as fundamental to their productivity irrespective of their professional life phase. The resulting effect of teacher identity and teacher emotions on learning support teachers’ work engagement and productivity highlights the dynamic nature of inclusive education and hence that, the future of inclusive education lies in the hands of teachers. The findings of this study will hopefully contribute positively to studies on professional teacher development in the field of learning support. Moreover, in light of Continuous Professional Teacher Development (CPTD) which is compulsory for South African teachers, to maintain their teaching accreditation, a deeper understanding of teacher identity and teacher emotion - and their inextricable influence on teaching practice and teacher productivity - is crucial to the improvement of professional teacher development programs.

Description

Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.

Keywords

Citation

DOI