08 SES 01, Professionals' Role in School Wellbeing
Teachers are subject to the proliferation of curriculum and assessment demands that is part of an ongoing reform agenda (Cochran-Smith, 2011). Additionally, teachers’ are expected to give close attention to health policies seemingly to support public health sectors that are under strain (Rossi, Pavey, Macdonald, & McCuaig, 2016) and PE teachers are at the forefront of this (Pühse et al., 2011). ‘Health work’, a term coined by Rossi et al. (2016), has emerged as a recent description of teachers’ work, to capture the public health agenda in the work of schools in spite of its onerous demands on teachers’ time and personal well being. Additionally, Chong (2015) in a small study case study of four primary PE specialists found that these teachers were undertaking elements of health work through health related caring teaching that was closely associated with Noddings’ (1984) ethics of care.
Given the health responsibilities seemingly assumed by schools, this study is taking an in-depth look, at how the teachers in semi rural contexts negotiate and execute this work within the increasingly crowded school day. It is of value for teachers to recognise elements of health work they undertake through the utilisation of what we are calling ‘reflexive caring’ The research questions in this study include: what health work is undertaken by primary school teachers in their work?, and how do primary school classroom teachers account for their roles as health educators?
The theoretical framework underpinning this study will be Noddings’ (1984) ethics of care combined with Archer’s (2010) reflexivity as a ‘reflexive caring’ approach. Caring as described by Noddings (2012) is a relational ethic, involving the formation of meaningful relationships and responding to others in an amiable and supportive manner. A caring relation is built upon a connection between two individuals, a carer and a cared-for. In order for the caring relation to be considered, both parties are required to contribute in significant ways, including a direct response from the cared-for (Noddings, 2005). Within the concept of care, ‘caring about’ is indirect whilst ‘caring for’ is where Noddings’ ethics of care is positioned, and requires a response from the cared-for to demonstrate acceptance of the care administered by the carer (Noddings, 2001). It is essential for ‘caring about’ to eventuate to ‘caring for’ to establish the validity of the caring relation (Noddings, 2001). In order to undertake ‘caring’ effectively, Archer’s (2007) reflexivity is engaged to assist in this process.
Reflexivity is ‘the regular exercise of the mental ability, shared by all normal people, to consider themselves in relation to their (social) contexts and vice versa’ (Archer, 2012, p. 1). It entails an individual’s engagement in an inner conversation with oneself, assessing the social implications and addressing personal values, beliefs and concerns to ascertain the next course of action one will undertake (Archer, 2007; Caetano, 2014; Willis, Crosswell, Morrison, Gibson, & Ryan, 2017). Furthermore, reflexivity involves a deliberation of various options to ascertain the best solution, as a prerequisite for progression in the given professional situation. Additional considerations that effect upon the decision will be undertaken in the form of self-analysis for professional learning and identity building, with the newly obtained knowledge involved in the next decision-making (Ryan & Carmichael, 2016). Archer (2012) propounds that every individual faces various situations that raises the unpredictability and hence there is no model decisions that can be made specific to a situation. This uncertainty reinforces the importance of the ability to reflect and analyse the circumstances, assess the options and reflexively arrive at a decision that is best for the situation (Ryan & Carmichael, 2016).
This is an ethnographic study. Ethnography is defined as “the art and science of describing a human group – its institutions, interpersonal behaviors, material productions, and beliefs” (Angrosino, 2007, p. 14). Ethnographic approaches provide an insight into the thoughts and actions demonstrated by the participants within their natural environment, hence permitting their usual behaviour to be exhibited and captured through recorded observations and interviews (Reeves, Kuper, & Hodges, 2008). As part of an ethnographic approach, the lead researcher will be immersed in the school where the participants are part of an approximately 20 to 25 teacher semi-rural primary over a period of 12 months and observations will be conducted at least once a week during school terms together with other periods of greater intensity. The study will recruit between five and 10 teachers within the school and the teachers will be rotated for observations. Each teacher will be observed on multiple occasions across the fieldwork period. The observations will be within the participants’ natural settings with trust developing overtime to minimise the disruption to the ‘everyday’. Observations in the social and behavioural sciences has been described as “the fundamental base of all research methods” (Adler & Adler, 1994, p. 389). The observation role that the researcher will undertake is that of a ‘participant-as-observer’ and known to both the participant and the students as a researcher, minimising contact with the students (Angrosino, 2007). In addition to informal conversations at each visit, formal semi-structured one-to-one interviews will be conducted with each teacher at the end of every school term during the year (four interview events per teacher). Participants will be able to gather insights and feedback about the health related caring work they are doing and express their opinions through the interviews. The interview quality will be dependent upon the relationship between the researcher and the participants as participants who feel their views are valued will increase the transparency of their responses, signifying a higher quality of interview (Ennis & Chen, 2012).
This study will extend the work of Noddings’ (1984) ethics of care through the incorporation of Archer’s (2007) notion of reflexivity. We are calling this construct ‘reflexive caring’ and see it as a potential method to empower teachers in their decision making and prioritising of action in the area of health related caring teaching. It is intended that a ‘reflexive caring’ approach, would more fully describe health work undertaken by teachers making it far more explicit. Additionally, it would assist teachers and schools with the reporting of health work undertaken to enable a more complete description of teachers’ work in the 21st century. This has important policy implications for the nature of teachers’ work, teacher employment conditions and finally over the longer term for teacher education itself.
Adler, P. A., & Adler, P. (1994). Observational techniques. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 377-392). Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE. Angrosino, M. V. (2007). Doing ethnographic and observational research. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE. Archer, M. S. (2007). Making our way through the world: Human reflexivity and social mobility. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Archer, M. S. (2010). Routine, reflexivity, and realism. Sociological Theory, 28(3), 272-303. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9558.2010.01375.x Archer, M. S. (2012). The reflexive imperative in late modernity. GB: Cambridge University Press - M.U.A. Caetano, A. (2014). Defining personal reflexivity: A critical reading of Archer's approach. European Journal of Social Theory. doi:10.1177/1368431014549684 Chong, M. (2015). Getting in the health role of Queensland primary PE specialists. (Unpublished master's thesis), The University of Queensland. Cochran-Smith, M. (2011). Teaching in new times: What do teachers really need to know? Kappa Delta Pi Record, 47(sup1), 11-12. doi:10.1080/00228958.2011.10516715 Ennis, C. D., & Chen, S. (2012). Interviews and focus groups. In K. M. Armour & D. MacDonald (Eds.), Research methods in physical education and youth sport. (pp. 217-236). New York: Routledge. Noddings, N. (1984). Caring: a feminine approach to ethics & moral education. Berkeley: University of California Press. Noddings, N. (2001). Care and coercion in school reform. Journal of Educational Change, 2(1), 35-43. Noddings, N. (2005). The challenge to care in schools: an alternative approach to education. New York: Teachers College Press. Noddings, N. (2012). The language of care ethics. Knowledge Quest, 40(5), 52. Pühse, U., Barker, D., Brettschneider, W.-D., Feldmeth, A. K., Gerlach, E., McCuaig, L., . . . Gerber, M. (2011). International approaches to health-oriented physical education - local health debates and differing conceptions of health. International Journal of Physical Education, A Review publication(3), 2-15. Reeves, S., Kuper, A., & Hodges, B. D. (2008). Qualitative research - qualitative research methodologies: ethnography. British Medical Journal, 337(7668), 512-514. Rossi, T., Pavey, A., Macdonald, D., & McCuaig, L. (2016). Teachers as health workers: Patterns and imperatives of Australian teachers' work. British Educational Research Journal, 42(2), 258-276. doi:10.1002/berj.3197 Ryan, M., & Carmichael, M.-A. (2016). Shaping (reflexive) professional identities across an undergraduate degree programme: A longitudinal case study. Teaching in Higher Education, 21(2), 151-165. doi:10.1080/13562517.2015.1122586 Willis, J., Crosswell, L., Morrison, C., Gibson, A., & Ryan, M. (2017). Looking for leadership: The potential of dialogic reflexivity with rural early-career teachers. Teachers and Teaching, 1-16. doi:10.1080/13540602.2017.1287695
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