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Riding the Roller Coaster. Teaching: The Highs and Lows

Faughey, Ann-Marie (2020) Riding the Roller Coaster. Teaching: The Highs and Lows. DEdCPsy thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

Research indicates that teaching is consistently listed in the top three professions which experience the highest levels of occupational stress (NUT, 2012). A survey (Teachers Assurance, 2013) found that teachers’ reported stress levels were impacting their ability to teach. This survey found teachers were more likely to experience the consequences of stress, compared to staff in management roles. The Teacher Wellbeing Index (ESP, 2018) found an overwhelming majority (74%) of the 1502 respondents considered the inability to ‘switch off’ from work to be the major contributing factor to a negative work-life balance. This most recent survey indicates the current pressure on staff within education. In this research, I aim to reveal how teachers experience their role and how they manage the daily demands on them. The review revealed limited research which focused on the factors that support and undermine the wellbeing of teachers with reference to the systems in which they function. I hope this research offers an insight into the factors that support and hinder wellbeing, as well as further developing knowledge of what retains some teachers in this stressful profession. In this study, I intend to do this by examining how teachers view their role, what empowers and stresses them, and how systems support or hinder their daily practice. I applied a narrative approach from a critical realist perspective to hear the stories teachers told about their careers, as well as what supports and undermines their wellbeing. Participants were three full-time teachers, with at least five years teaching experience, who had taught in a minimum of two schools (at least one was required to be a UK state school). Semi-structured, narrative interviews were undertaken using an ‘episodic’ approach (adapted from McAdams, 1993) which highlighted changes over time. This approach allowed me to hear each individual’s story about their role on a daily basis, as well as across their career, with regards to systems in which they were required to work. It also meant participants were able to identify and speak about key events, such as the factors which initially brought them to the profession and which factors continued to motivate them as teachers. Stories were analysed using The Listening Guide (Gilligan, 1982). Findings across all three narratives indicate that teachers identify as having multiple roles. These varied roles related to personal values they associated with teaching, as well as systemic-led responsibilities. The roles which closely aligned to their values generally supported their wellbeing. However, at times there were differences between what they felt they should be doing as teachers and what they were being asked to do, and these instances undermined their wellbeing. Tensions within the narratives often related to professional judgements being questioned despite high levels of training; a disregard for the holistic vision of pupils, and increasing workloads which ultimately encroach on personal time. The language within the stories generally align themselves to narratives which are becoming more publicly widespread.

Item Type: Thesis (DEdCPsy)
Keywords: Wellbeing, stress, socio-psychological wellbeing, environmental influences/factors, protective factors
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > School of Education (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.808696
Depositing User: Ms Ann-Marie Faughey
Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2020 16:17
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2020 09:53
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/27071

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