Teachers Matter: Connecting Work, Lives and Effectiveness

By Christopher Day; Pam Sammons et al. | Go to book overview
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Emotional contexts of teaching:
agency, vulnerability and
professional identities


This chapter focuses upon the ways in which the interactions between teachers' professional beliefs, work and life scenarios, and the extent to which they are able to manage these can affect their sense of professional identity. It suggests that identity is an important determinant, and plays a crucial part in influencing teachers' emotional well-being and effectiveness.

Teachers' sense of professional and personal identity is a key variable in their motivation, job fulfilment, commitment and self-efficacy; and is itself affected by the extent to which teachers' own needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness are met. Identity should, however, not be confused with role:

Identity must be distinguished from what, traditionally, sociologists
have called roles and role sets. Roles are defined by norms struc-
tured by the institutions and organizations of society. Their relative
weight in influencing people's behaviour depends upon negotiations and
arrangements between individuals and those institutions and organiza-
tions. Identities are sources of meaning for the actors themselves, and
by themselves, constructed through the process of individuation.

(Castells 1997: 6–7)

Teacher identity, then, is how teachers define themselves to themselves and others, and is a construct that evolves over the duration of a career (Ball and Goodson 1985; Sikes et al. 1985; Huberman 1993).

In much educational literature it is recognized that the broader social conditions in which teachers live and work, the emotional contexts, and the


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