01 SES 13 B, Professionalism and Professional Identity
This presentation will focus on the lives of high school home class teachers ; their professional identities and professional development through their career stories (Goodson&Sikes,2001).
The idiosyncratic role of the high school home class teacher is well acknowledged by Israeli society but only partially recognized in a wider educational perspective. The equivalent role within the British context is the form tutor and within the American context it is the home room teacher. All terms refer to a strong sense of caring 'for and about' a nuclear unit of students (Noddings,1992) as well as to social pedagogy and pastoral care in schools (Kyriacou, 2014).
The social and educational changes characterizing our post-modern era, especially those following the Covid19's implications, all give rise to the need for rethinking the leadership status, role identity and professional development of home class teachers, whether in Israeli or worldwide contexts, in the mainstream high school educational system.
Home teaching draws on pedagogical-academic and on pastoral- social domains. These give rise to a multiplicity of roles: (i) caring for individual students (ii) caring for the home class unit (iii)caring for the subject teachers(iv) caring for the pastoral and the managerial staff (iv) caring for students' parents and external staff members. In the light of the role's decreasing ideological missions, on the one hand, and the increasing roles which a home class teacher is expected to perform on a daily basis, on the other hand, home class teachers are likely to face role identity tensions, conflicts and dilemmas, which should be seriously considered
This study stemmed from a lack in the academic corpus concerning the role of high school home class teachers, in general, and concerning the lives of home teachers; their professional identities and professional development, in particular. As home class teachers do not get proper training before assuming this role or while at work, the question rises: how do home class teachers develop professionally along their career? ( Zimmerman, 2000)
Whilst acknowledging the complexity of the home teaching role within the Israeli context, I focused on two central issues concerning the teachers' professional lives: firstly, the way in which they conceptualised and interpreted their professional identities; secondly, how they narrated and interpreted their professional development and nature of their career progress.
The research questions were: (i) How do high school home class teachers in the mainstream Israeli educational system conceptualise, narrate and interpret their professional identities as home class teachers? (ii) How do high school home class teachers conceptualize, visualise,depict,narrate and interpret their professional development throughout their careers? Both questions were restricted to the case of one educational setting in mainstream Israeli high school setting.
The first question drew on theories of identity (Schachter, 2004;). I especially drew on A Teacher Interpretive Model proposed by Kelchtermans (1993a) and Kelchtermans& Vandenberghe (1994). Their biographical studies drew on an interactionist approach to the professional self, which they conceptualized as a complex, multi-dimensional, and dynamic system of representations, that develops over time as a result of the interactions of the teacher with his/her environment. They have proposed a comprehensive model called: a teacher's interpretive frame, which is composed of two basic theoretical constructs: a teacher's professional self – reflecting a conception about oneself as a teacher and a teacher's subjective educational theory – reflecting a system of knowledge and beliefs concerning teaching as a professional activity. The second research question drew on the cyclic theories of development, mainly Fessler's Teacher Career Cycle. (Fessler,1995). The emerging data shed a light on home teachers' interpretation of their professional selves as well as their 3 typological patterns of career narratives.
Research Paradigm: I pursued a qualitative-interpretive methodological paradigm, while following the guidelines of a case study methodology (Bassey,2000). I drew on a life history approach and a narrative inquiry method, in order to access teachers' 'thick realities' from a life-long, subjective perspective. Setting: This case study was situated in one high school setting in a central region in Israel. Sample &Participants: The sample was convenient-oriented and opportunistic. It consisted of 32 home class teachers, who had worked in an urban high school (6 male/ 26 female; 2 were also practicing as year heads); Research Cycles: Data gathering and analysis was conducted in 3 cycles: the first was the exploratory cycle, during which I both got acquainted with my field of research and lay the foundations for further research. The second was a phase of expanding horizons and looking more closely at the emerging data in relation to the research agenda i.e. the two research questions. The third cycle focused on 'tying it all together' ; it was devoted mainly to a deeper level of analysis and a synthesis of the findings emerging from all data sources(the in- depth interviews, the extended interview questionnaires and the evaluation tables, the pictorial activity and additional data sources such as school documents and a small group of four outside informants). Data Tools: For the purpose of exploring home teachers' professional identities, I applied two tools of data gathering: (a) The life -historic interview (b) the extended interview questionnaire (Goodson&Sikes,2001). For the purpose of exploring home teachers' professional development and career paths, I applied (c )the pictorial activity : a self diagram of one's career path alongside numerical evaluation of his/her sense of development, which drew on such orientations as: the biographical perspective; career-lines (Keltchtermans,1993a;1993d; Keltchtermans&Vandenberghe,1994) career-stories and narratives (Connely & Clandinin,1995; Lieblich et al.1998); professionalism (Eraut,1994); a multiple intelligences orientation and tacit knowledge (Eraut,1994). Gardner,H Analysis: Following a three -cycle research journey, some rich data were obtained, which provided access to understanding the unique ways in which the home class teachers conceptualized their professional identities alongside the links between their professional development and career stories. Home teachers' interviews were analyzed by means of theme analysis. (Brauna V& Clarkeb V., 2016 ) while drawing on the Interpretive Frame of Keltchtermans& Vandenbergh (1993a; 1994) as a theoretical grounding. The analysis of the 'career narratives' drew on cyclic developmental theories, especially Fessler's Teacher Career Cycle model.(Fessler,1995).
Conclusions- Professional Identity: The home teachers exposed aspects of their identities through their Professional Images (by using metaphors situated on a Maslow like pyramid); through their Job- Motivation factors (varying from Biographical Reasons such as : life histories; personality- inclination; previous experience to Professional Reasons.); through causes for Job –Satisfactions (such as qualitative, and long-lasting relations with their students,) as well as causes leading to Dissatisfactions ( such as: bad relations with students or with their parents) ; through their Narrative Task Perceptions ( ranging from either pragmatically- oriented, the ' here and now' home teachers to long-range orientations focusing on the well being of the students in their future. Professional Development and Career Stories: The teachers were found to develop professionally according to three typological career patterns- the Evergreen Model (Classic & Intermitted types), the Natural Model and the Fluctuating Model, each of which was linked to the impact of personal and organizational environments. Methodologically, this study demonstrated how the integration of the life historic interviewing technique with a new tool, the extended interview questionnaires, and, particularly, the pictorial activity, within the qualitative paradigm, led to the exposure of rich, verbal-visual data, which served as a basis for constructing the home teachers' career narratives. It was found to be a useful tool to diagnose the home teachers' level of professional development and their pattern of a career narrative. It can be used as a tool for enhancing professional development of home teachers, such as the Naturalists, within an in-service course. Furthermore, it can be used to carry out research on various types of educators ,while focusing on professional development. The conclusions of this study indicate the need for further research in the field of home teaching and teachers' professional development in the Israeli and other contexts especially in these challenging educational days.
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