02 SES 13 B, VET Teachers Experience and Engagement
The paper considers how vocational teachers behave in designing the work to improve performance and enhance the meaningfulness of their work. As a starting point, there are challenges in recruiting and retraining vocational teachers who meet the demanding twin requirements (OECD, 2014). Vocational teachers professional work is sophisticated as they have to be competent in some vocational or professional field and secondly, in pedagogy. However, in many countries, the flexible pathways of entry are encouraged as a strategy to meet VET teachers’ shortage problem. This strategy has placed boundary crossing and further skill development in the spotlight. There are several approaches in the understanding of vocational teachers’ boundary crossing (e.g. Andersson, Hellgren, Köpsén, 2018; Vähäsantanen, Saarinen, Eteläpelto, 2009). The notion of “boundary” can be considered as a mental fence (Zerubavel, 1991). However, the themes like the meaning of work, identity or agency have taken its place in the field of boundary-crossing research. Boundary crossing presumes motivational base which in turn refers to individual job crafting actions, which by Wrzesniewski and Dutton (2001) is defined as “the physical and cognitive changes individuals make in the task or relational boundaries of their work” (pp 179). The definition of job crafting does not have a specific time frame. Thus, it may also occur as a solution in a demanding period (Tims, Bakker, 2010). For example, in the time of switching to vocational teachers work. Job crafting helps to illuminate the job-related actions that employees engage in to move towards optimal functioning (Wrzesniewski, LoBuglio, Dutton, Berg, 2013, 282). Wrzesniewski and Datton (2001) conceptualized three types of job crafting: task, relational and cognitive. Task crafting refers to changes in the content of the job, relational crafting describes the proactive altering of one’s relationships with co-workers, and cognitive crafting involves a change in one’s perspective about work (Wrzesniewski and Dutton, 2001). In particular, job crafting is considered primarily as an individual-level activity within which individuals strive to achieve work that fits their skills, needs and preferences (Tims, Parker, 2020). However, at the same time, job crafting is the process of individuals boundary-crossing.
In the present study, we are focusing on three types of job crafting – task crafting, relational crafting and cognitive crafting. By altering task, relational or cognitive boundaries, the individual shapes work, defines the interpersonal interactions with co-workers, and experiences meaning or purpose of the work and themselves (e.g. Wrzesniewski, et al. 2013). The job crafting may occur in career switching period, while individuals are adapting with the vocational teachers' role or afterwards when confronting the challenges. However, through these experiences, vocational teachers may increase their resources and stimulate further development.
The purpose of this paper is to enhance the understanding: 1) How vocational teachers have been crafting their work during the challenging circumstances? 2) How and to what extent vocational teachers’ job crafting and boundary-crossing are influenced by contextual factors? 3) How is job crafting influences the resources related to further development?
The research is based on narrative life history interviews, conducted from 24 vocational teachers during narrative interviews. The two-steps narrative interview method was applied. Firstly, in the non-structured interview stage, interviewee talked freely about the way they have got to the position of vocational teacher. In the second stage, the structured approach to interviewing was applied and the questions, specifying the necessary aspects of the life stories, work identity, development and future perspectives were discussed. The youngest vocational teacher was 24-years old and the oldest 67-years old. The average length of the interview was one and a half hours. Transcribed life stories were analysed qualitatively. During the analysing process, the data were categorized according to the job crafting approach of Wrzesniewski and Dutton (2001). The thematic analysis was followed primarily the topics: 1) the patterns of vocational teachers’ job crafting; 2) the influence of contextual factors and organizational relations on job crafting and boundary-crossing; 3) job crafting effect on further resource development. In identification of themes by theoretical assumptions, we were guided by Reissman, (2008), Bold (2012) suggestions.
We assume that vocational teachers’ flexible recruitment brings in new challenges in terms of adaptation as well as in the execution of the vocational teacher's role. Firstly, we presume that in vocational teachers’ adaptation process or challenging circumstances, the individual capacity to design their own work plays a crucial role. Secondly, we point out that vocational teachers’ boundary crossing can be seen as job crafting which three types – task crafting, relational crafting and cognitive crafting – increase resources and the meaningfulness of one's career.
Andersson, P., Hellgren, M., Köpsén, S. (2018). Factors Influencing the Value of CPD Activities Among VET Teachers. International Journal for Research in Vocational Education and Training (IJRVET), 5(2), 140-164. Doi:10.13152/IJRVET.5.2.4 Bold, C. (2012). Using Narrative in Research. Sage Publications. OECD (2014). Skills Beyond School: Synthesis Report. OECD Reviews of Vocational Education and Training. OECD Publishing. http//dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264214682-en Reissman, C. K. (2008). Narrative Methods for the Human Sciences. SAGE Publications. Tims, M., Bakker, A. B. (2010). Job Crafting: Towards a new model of individual job redesign. SA Journal of Industrial Psychology, 36(2), 1-9. Tims, M., Parker, S. K. (2020). How co-workers attribute, react to, and shape job crafting. Organizational Psycholgy Review, 10(1), 29-54. Doi:10.1777/2041386619896087 Vähäsantanen, K., Saarinen, J., Eteläpelto, A. (2009). Between school and working life: Vocational teachers’ agency in boundary-crossing settings. International Journal of Educational Research, 48, 395-404. Doi: 10.1016/j.ijer.2010.04.003 Wrzesniewski, A., Dutton, J. E. (2001). Crafting a job: Revisioning employees as active crafters of their work. Academy of Management Review, 26(2), 179-201. Wrzesniewski, A., LoBuglio, N., Dutton, J. E., Berg, J. M. (2013). Job Crafting and Cultivating Positive Meaning and Identity in Work. Advances in Positive Organizational Psychology, 1, 281-302. Doi:10.1108/s2046-410X(2013)0000001015 Zerubavel, E. (1991). The Fine Line. New York, NY: Fine Press.
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