07 SES 04 B, Teachers' Attitudes and Practices towards Cultural and Social Diversity
In this presentation we will present the motivations for choosing a teaching career in special education (SE) of three different subgroups in Israeli society: Bedouin (Nomad Arabs) teachers, Jewish teachers of Ethiopian descent, and teachers who are mothers of children with special needs. All three groups were investigated over a span of a few years.
People choose to become teachers for a wide variety of reasons. There is an extensive literature regarding the motivations for choosing teaching as a career among students. Usually, researchers tend to attribute their motivations to one of the two following main categories (Keck Frei et al., 2017; Heinz, 2015; Klassen, Al-Dhafri, Hannok & Betts, 2011; Watt et al., 2012): Extrinsic motivations (utilitarian reasons such as salary, or a stable income). Intrinsic motivations (e.g., Friedman (2016) found that students in elementary education teacher training programs revealed an intricate array of intrinsic motivations for choosing a teaching career, combining different types of altruistic and narcissistic expectations of their role as future teachers, including genuine narcissism, benevolent narcissism, genuine altruism, and paternalistic altruism. In addition, Heinz (2015) included in intrinsic motivations natural abilities and propensities, which comprise of natural affinity for teaching, a love of children, enjoyment,etc.
However, motivations for choosing a career in teaching may change according to teaching specialty, as well as cultural and sociocultural background, and these reasons may also change over time. For instance, Low and colleagues (2017) found that the factors that attracted Singapore student to become teachers (e.g., prior teaching experiences and social influences) were not the same as those that finally made them decide to go into teaching (such as intrinsic values). Horvath, Goodell and Kosteas (2018) found that among STEM Secondary Education students, teaching satisfaction and identity predicted their intended and actual behavior 1-3 years later. In addition, they found that identity mediated the satisfaction-outcome relationship of student teaching.
For altruistic reasons, ethnic-minority students may consider themselves agents of social change and some of them become teachers due to underlying reasons related to their own personal educational encounters with inequality. Altruistic motivations may include the desire to help children and/or adolescents, the passion to share acquired knowledge, and the drive to become an agent of social change for the benefit of the community (Kass & Miller, 2011). Sometimes, these altruistic motivations developed from hardships endured earlier in life. For example, students of ethnic minorities; students from families living in disadvantaged socioeconomic conditions; people who experienced language difficulties or those who were themselves subject to a negative educational experience in school, or mothers of children with special needs considered themselves agents of social change (Achinstein & Ogawa, 2011; Kass & Miller, 2011). Students who choose SE as a teaching career report that specific factors such as personal (e.g., learning disabilities) of familial difficulties (e.g., immigration), or personal or familial experiences with people with disabilities were their primary motivations (Hausstätter, 2007; Hillel Lavian, 2013).
Our primary research question across all three studies was: What were the motivations for choosing SE as a teaching career?
All three studies used a phenomenological methodology. Participants: Bedouin teachers (N=18), Ethiopian Jews who were student teachers (N=10), mothers of children with special needs who were teachers (N=13). The participants were recruited trough purposive sampling. Instruments: Open ended in-depth interviews, administered individually, lasting 60-90 minutes. Following the initial open-ended question, we used follow-up questions based on the content of the interview, such as "when did you initially consider becoming a SE teachers?" "What prompted you to leave your career and choose a second career in teaching special education"? In addition, each participant completed a personal-information questionnaire. Procedure: The interviews were conducted either by one of the researchers or by a research assistant who was trained and mentored by the researchers. The interviews were conducted in a convenient place chosen by the participant. All interviews were recorded and then transcribed. Data analysis: The data were analyzed using open content analysis (Hsieh & Shannon, 2005). This type of analysis relates to the participants’ words, and the units of analysis were short paragraphs reflecting their feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and knowledge. Throughout the analysis, emphasis was placed on understanding what they said in reference to the general context. During the first stage ('open coding'), the researchers independently read the transcripts and developed initial codes and categories directly. The units of analysis were paragraphs or clusters of related sentences. The coding was flexible and simultaneous, as general and specific themes and categories sometimes emerged. During the second stage ('axial coding'), each researcher began to cluster individual codes with similar meaning from all interviews into general themes and differentiating among the themes, all the while adding more refined codes that continued to emerge. During the third stage ('selective coding'), the researchers shared their independent findings – codes and themes, followed by an ongoing collaborative process of developing general themes and then more refined and specific themes which represented the interviews. The comparison of the initial results of each researcher and the ongoing development of mutually agreed-upon themes contributed to the reliability of the findings. Ethics: All participants received a general description of the purpose of the study, regarding the career choice of teachers, and then they were asked to sign an informed consent form. All identifying information was kept confidentially, and the results are presented using pseudonyms.
In all three studies, one of the main motivations for choosing SE teaching as a career was participants' interest in becoming social change agents for marginalized or disempowered groups in society. For example, Bedouin teachers wanted to generate changes within their society and towards the Israeli Arab society. For example, Faiza (female) said, “It’s important to note that people in Bedouin society take a negative view of SE, and I intend to use all the means and knowledge that I’ve learned to change this view.” Most of the Jewish Ethiopian student teachers stated that one of their main motivations to become SE teachers was their interest in increasing awareness to the needs of children with disabilities in their community, wishing to become role models for others, and their interest in becoming social change agents representing their community in schools. For example, Adisalem (female), stated: “There are children who are in SE even though they're not supposed to be there. I know I'm representing my community, and I will lead changes in this issue.” Many of the mothers interviewed in the third study mentioned that a key motivation to become SE teachers was their will to become social change agents. For example, when Shosh was asked how she views her future career development plans for the next five years, she responded resolutely: "I would promote a reformed law [of SE] through the Ministry of Education, hopefully after I will complete my Master's degree in SE. I would very much like to become a mentor for other teachers in SE, to lead teams. I think I could do it better than others.” Additional findings included extrinsic, intrinsic and additional altruistic motivations for choosing a career as teachers of children with disabilities. Implications for teacher training will be discussed.
Achinstein, B., & Ogawa, R. T. (2011). Change (d) agents: New teachers of color in urban schools. Teachers College Press. Friedman, I. A. (2016). Being a teacher: altruistic and narcissistic expectations of pre-service teachers. Teachers and Teaching, 22(5), 625-648. Hausstätter, R. S. (2007). Students’ reasons for studying special needs education: challenges facing inclusive education. Teacher Development, 11(1), 45-57. Heinz, M. (2015). Why choose teaching? An international review of empirical studies exploring student teachers’ career motivations and levels of commitment to teaching. Educational Research and Evaluation, 21(3), 258-297. Hillel Lavian, R. (2013). 'You and I Will Change the World': Student Teachers' Motives for Choosing Special Education. World Journal of Education, 3(4), 10-25. Horvath, M., Goodell, J. E., & Kosteas, V. D. (2018). Decisions to enter and continue in the teaching profession: Evidence from a sample of US secondary STEM teacher candidates. Teaching and Teacher Education, 71, 57-65. Hsieh, H. F., & Shannon, S. E. (2005). Three approaches to qualitative content analysis. Qualitative Health Research, 15(9), 1277-1288. Kass, E., & Miller, E. C. (2011). Bedouin special-education teachers as agents of social change. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27(4), 788-796. Keck Frei, A., Berweger, S., & Bieri Buschor, C. (2017). Men considering (and choosing) teaching as a career: what accounts for their decision to become a teacher? European Journal of Teacher Education, 40(4), 535-549. Klassen, R. M., Al-Dhafri, S., Hannok, W., & Betts, S. M. (2011). Investigating pre-service teacher motivation across cultures using the Teachers’ Ten Statements Test. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27(3), 579-588. Low, E. L., Ng, P. T., Hui, C., & Cai, L. (2017). Teaching as a career choice: Triggers and drivers. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 42(2), 28-46 Watt, H. M., Richardson, P. W., Klusmann, U., Kunter, M., Beyer, B., Trautwein, U., & Baumert, J. (2012). Motivations for choosing teaching as a career: An international comparison using the FIT-Choice scale. Teaching and Teacher Education, 28(6), 791-805.
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