Placement as creative entanglement: Capacity as a theoretical and diffractive concept in pre-service teachers' professional experience

Year: 2019

Author: Wilson, Anat, Malone, Karen

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This presentation discusses findings from a study on pre-service teachers’ coping while on professional experience. Their responses included many descriptions of feeling overwhelmed and overworked on placement. Pre-service teachers have often commented they suffer from financial difficulties, stress, lack of sleep, no time for self-care, and have struggled to keep up with their family life and study commitments. Such emotional labour is known to characterise teacher burnout; when stress causes exhaustion, problems with physical health and low job satisfaction. Some studies suggest that stress is a subjective experience that depends on an individual’s perception of whether or not available resources are sufficient to meet pending demands. In seeking to engage with alternative discourses, we present our experience of making sense of the data through a relational ontology building on a posthumanist/new materialist approach that embraces the complexity of the pre-service teachers encounters. Drawing on the view we are all entangled in complex fluid systems of sympoiesis, means that although the placement experience is often viewed as an independent, autonomous process, the PSTs’ time in the school is entirely dependent on their relations with others (human and nonhuman). Therefore to make sense of and acknowledge the complexity this analysis looks to work against reductionist ways of theorising using diffraction. Through embracing the complexity presented by our own stance and by embodying and reconnecting participants’ reflections, a sense of creative capacity has arisen. Commonly known as the maximum amount that something can endure, we re-explore the notion of capacity as a theorising concept and as part of a creative entanglement. With the aim of moving beyond representation as static, capacity is considered fluid, uncertain and changing. This approach afforded us to question the role of professional experience in pre-service teachers’ education and re-imagine creative possibilities for embedding placement experience as part of the ecology of their overall learning rather than as something outside of the university learning.