I Felt So Guilty: Emotions and Subjectivity in School-Based Teacher Education

Dec. 20, 2008

Source: Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, Vol. 14, Nos. 5–6, October–December 2008, 497–513

Research in the field of emotions in relation to teaching is relatively new, but expanding. However, studies addressing the emotional dimension of preservice teacher education, particularly with respect to the role of school-based teacher educators are currently under-represented in the literature. This article reports findings from a study focused on the emotional dimension of the practicum for school-based teacher educators as they support preservice teacher colleagues. It adopts a qualitative method informed by feminist post-structural theory in an attempt to give meaning to teachers’ narratives of their personal responses to supporting a less than successful preservice teacher. The study investigates teachers’ shifting sense of agency throughout the experience as they work within apparently intersecting discursive frames.

Research participants

Twenty-three teachers from seven different universities initially indicated that they were willing to participate. However, in order to manage the size of the project and geographical spread of teachers, the author interviewed 16 teachers from six different universities, selected because of their response to her follow-up request. Of the 16 participants, 13 are female and 7 teach in primary schools. However, determination of the final 16 participants was more to do with participant self-selection, rather than with a balance of sector (primary or secondary) gender, age, or experience as teacher and/or school-based teacher educator. Given the personal and sensitive focus of the research, the author only persisted with people who seemed genuinely willing to participate.

The case study reveals the depth of emotions experienced by teachers and examines the impact of the emotions on teacher identity. It appears that the tertiary sector has failed to recognize the emotional costs of such experiences and the associated needs of school-based teacher educators. Finally, the article asks in what ways can staff in universities work collaboratively with teachers to address the concerns being raised by a study such as this, as there appears to be a genuine need to assist teachers copes with the emotional outcomes of working with problematic preservice teachers.

Updated: Feb. 17, 2009