10 SES 02 C, Exploring Teachers' Beliefs
Nowadays, teaching education has to face many challenges. Teachers have to acquire not only teaching skills but also psychological and social skills, that are very important to manage the diversity of students and the complexity of classrooms.
Since the last decades of the past century, research had highlighted the influence of the different teaching styles on students’ behaviors and academic outcomes. Teaching style refers to teacher’s needs, beliefs and behaviors in the classroom. Teaching style concerns how to present information, interact with students, manage schoolwork, and support learning (Grasha, 1994). Teaching styles depend on many factors, among which the implicit ones have a great importance. Social cognition theory suggests that these implicit factors influence teachers’ attitude and willingness to be engaged in professional activities (Pintrick & Schunk, 2002). As noted by Borko and Putnam (1996), «the knowledge and beliefs that prospective and experienced teachers hold serve as the filter through which their learning take place. It is through these existing conceptions that teachers come to understand recommended new practices» (p. 675).
According to Nespor (1987), beliefs assert that things (such as intelligence or personality traits) exist or do not exist. A part of beliefs is an image of the ideal or alternative that contrasts with current reality. Beliefs also are associated with evaluations and feeling about what is and what should be. In particular, teachers’ implicit beliefs about students address teachers’ behavior towards students and consequently can influence the teacher-student relationship and the school climate.
So, teacher education has to pay attention to these aspects of the teaching profession to improve the quality of teaching and to make it consistent with the current challenges of the continuing professional developmental system. In this perspective, the Eurydice Report "The teaching profession in Europe: Practices, Perceptions, and Policies" of 25th June 2015 defines the key components of initial teacher education: contents, theories and teaching practices. However, they are not sufficient to promote a mindful teaching profession, which requires feeling ready to teach. As the Italian “Plane for the teacher education 2016-2019” suggests, teachers have to be considered human and professional capital for school and society. To valorize this capital, teacher education has to bring up teachers’ needs, feelings and desires, because this is the starting point to learn to be teachers. In this kind of learning, teachers trace their history as students and build expectations about their new role as teachers. In other words, «they simply return to places of their past, complete with memories and preconceptions of days gone by, preconceptions that often remain largely unaffected by higher education» (Pajares, 1993, p. 46).
In this perspective, the present study aims to contribute to a deeper reflection on the characteristics of the teaching profession, starting from the dimension of implicit knowledge and beliefs. In particular, our exploratory study underlines the influence that teacher's anthropological imagination (Gonzalez et al., 1993) has on teachers’ attitudes to teaching. Inspired by Tuffanelli’s research on students’ diversity, we investigated the mental expectations that perspective teachers and experienced teachers have about the negative or positive students’ profiles in the classroom, asking if these implicit beliefs may affect their teaching attitudes.
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