How do pre-service teachers feel about learning to teach? Emergent themes from a qualitative case study using interviews & online blogging

Year: 2015

Author: Karnovosky, Saul, Gobby, Brad, Mercieca, Paul

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The centrality of emotion to educational practices and discourse is now well founded in the literature (e.g. Schutz & Zembylas, 2009) Numerous education researchers have found that teaching demands immense amounts of emotional ‘labour, work and management’ (e.g. Hargreaves, 2000; Zembylas, 2005), linking this aspect of teachers’ work with job dissatisfaction, emotional exhaustion and burnout (e.g. Chang, 2009). Perhaps, the emotional dimension of teaching goes some way to explain why novice teachers have a higher attrition rate than others in the profession (e.g. Johnson, Down, Le Cornu, Peters, Sullivan, Pearce & Hunter, 2015). In learning to teach, researchers have noted pre-service teachers must understand that their own and their students’ emotions will permeate the classroom and influence their goals, motivation, problem solving, teaching strategies and relationships with mentor teachers (e.g. Bloomfield, 2010). The study reported on in this presentation looks to build on the current wave of literature into the emotional dimension of teaching using both sociological and post-structural perspectives. The presentation will draw on a portion of interviews and online emotion diary blogs from a yearlong qualitative case study. The paper will explore the emergent themes of the lived experiences of a small group of pre-service teachers in a postgraduate teacher education program. Particular emphasis will be placed on exploring critical episodes of the pre-service teachers’ emotional experiences when feelings were underplayed, overplayed, neutralised or changed according to specific ‘emotional rules’ (Isenbargera & Zembylas, 2006). The authors argue that such emotional rules in the teaching profession, shaped by institutional and cultural norms and practices, play a powerful role in shaping their professional identities and sense of self. The study is significant in that it hopes to illuminate the experiences of pre-service teachers in a holistic way to provide an understanding how emotions are navigated in learning to teach.