01 SES 06 A, Professional Identity
Teaching and teachers have been changing over time. The ways in which teaching is defined and understood depends not only on the social, cultural and political context in which it is embedded but also on the ways in which teachers see their profession and themselves as teachers.
According to several authors (in Day, 2001) being a professional differs from other groups to the extent that they have: a knowledge-based expert - technical culture, the commitment to meet the needs of customers - service ethic, a strong collective identity - professional commitment, and a self-regulated body, as opposed to bureaucratic control, practices and professional standards. Teaching entails its own specific dimensions because besides the "organisation of the teaching-learning process as its primary purpose, to ensure the best learning conditions for all students" (Cardoso, 2006, p. 16) the teacher still has to deal with the affective, emotional and "holistic functioning of the human being" aspects (Estrela, 2010, p. 40) inherent in the process of teaching.
Thus, professionalisation, as evidenced by Hoyle and John (1995, cited by Flores and Shiroma, 2003), is the process whereby a semi-profession gradually bringing the criteria that constitute a profession, guided by two aspects: first, the conquest of the status of the profession by strengthening the borders that distinguish it from other occupations, on the other hand, it has to do with improving the quality of service provided by improving the skills and knowledge of practitioners. However, it should be stressed that the acquisition of appropriate qualifications to be a teacher alone will not determine your success as a teacher throughout his career (Day, 2001).
Several authors highlight the demands teachers face marked by complexity (Day 2001; Fullan, 2003; Flores, Day & Viana, 2007; Hargreaves, 2000; Hoyle, 1980; Sachs, 1997) which inevitably influences teacher professionalism that was defined by Goodson and Hargreaves (1996, p. 22-23) as what teachers and others experience as such and not what policymakers and others claim to be.
Professionalism points to several directions (Flores, in press). On the one hand, it is associated with the "profession" as a category with occupational classification, on the other, it draws upon the "professional virtues" which is a categorisation of technical and ethical standards claimed on behalf of certain occupational roles (Gewirtz et al. 2009, p. 3).
This paper reports on findings from a 3-year research project funded by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (National Foundation for Science and Technology) (PTDC/CPE-CED/112164/2009). It aimed at: i) understanding the wider social, cultural and political setting and the policy environment in which teachers’ work is framed, especially in terms of challenges and opportunities; ii) analysing the professional and organizational culture and structures of the schools in which teachers work; iii) understanding the ways in which teachers construct their professionalism; iv) developing strategies in order to enhance teacher leadership in schools. This paper focuses upon the perceptions of teachers about their profession and about themselves as teachers in challenging times.
Bryman, Alan. (1988). Quantity and Quality in Social Research. Contemporary social research series: 18. London: Academic Division of Unwin Hyman Ldt. Bogdan, Robert C., & Biklen, Sari Knopp. (1994). Investigação qualitativa em educação. Uma introdução à teoria e aos métodos. Porto: Porto Editora. Cardoso, Carlos. (2006). Os Professores em Contexto de Diversidade. Porto: PROFEDIÇÕES. Day, Christopher. (2001). Desenvolvimento Profissional de Professores – Os desafios da aprendizagem permanente. Porto: Porto Editora. Estrela, Maria Teresa. (2010). Profissão Docente. Dimensões Afectivas e Éticas. Colecção Saberes Plurais. Porto: Areal Editores. Flores, M.ª Assunção. (em publicação). Dos discursos do profissionalismo docente: paradoxos e alternativas conceptuais. Braga: Universidade do Minho. Flores, M.ª Assunção; Day, Christopher e Viana, Isabel. (2007) Profissionalismo docente em transição: as identidades dos professores em tempos de mudança. Um estudo com professores portugueses e ingleses, in M.A. Flores e I.C. Viana (Orgs) Profissionalismo docente em transição: as identidades dos professores em tempos de mudança. Braga: CIEd/UM. Flores, Maria A; Shiroma, Eneida. (2003). "Teacher Professionalisation and Professionalism in Portugal and Brazil: What do the policy documents tell? ", Journal of Education for Teaching. 29, 1: 5 - 18. Fullan, Michael. (2003). Liderar numa cultura em mudança. Porto: Edições Asa. Gewirtz, Saron et al. Policy, professionalism and practice. Understanding and enhancing teachers’ work. In Gewirtz, Saron et al. Changing Teacher Professionalism. International trends, challenges and ways forward. London: Routledge. Hargreaves, Andy. (2000). Four Ages of Professionalism and Professional Learning. Teachers and Teaching: History and Practice, Vol. 6, No. 2, 151-182. Hoyle, Eric. Professionalization and deprofessionalization in education. In Hoyle, Eric. & Magerry, J. (Orgs.). (1980). World yearbook of education Professional development of teachers. Londres: Kogan Page. Lessárd-Hébert, M.; Goyette, G., Boutin, G. (1990). Investigação Qualitativa – fundamentos e práticas. Lisboa: Instituto Piaget. Sachs, Judyth. (2003). The activist teaching profession. London: Open University Press
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