Unifying Cognition, Emotion, and Activity in Language Teacher Professional Development

Apr. 15, 2014

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 39, (April, 2014), p. 102-111.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article aims to guide language teacher educators to address novice teacher emotion systematically in the learning-to-teach experience. The guided question is:
How does a language teacher educator make sense of the pervasive emotional content present in novice teacher reflection journals as they react to their initial teaching experiences in the language classroom?

The participant was a female novice teacher, participated in internship of an undergraduate Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) certificate program at a large public university in the southeast United States.
Data were collected through journal writing of one novice teacher.
The authors used a scheme of a complete orienting basis of the action (SCOBA) to orient language teacher educators as they respond to novice teacher emotions in the activity of journal writing.



This analysis demonstrates that emotional content is pervasive in this novice teacher’s journals, and that her emotions are tied to her perezhivanie and her thinking about and activity/outcomes of her teaching.

The teacher educator explicitly addresses the novice teacher’s emotions as normal and points to areas of cognition that needed to be developed in terms of teaching academic writing.
The teacher educator first validated what the novice teacher was feeling as normal, deciphered what her emotions indexed in terms of cognition and activity, and then sought to mediate her responsively.
For language teacher educators, the SCOBA highlights that teacher expression of emotion is intertwined with cognition and activity as part of the developmental process of beginning teachers, and can be addressed in mediation.
This described case provides an example of how the dialogic interactions taking place through the reflection journals enabled the teacher educator to gain insights into the novice teacher’s perezhivanie and her thinking/feeling/doing of teaching, and thereby mediate a growth point.

This analysis also shows how difficult enacting consistent, principled responsive mediation is because of the moral issues embedded within the studenteteacher relationship and because human communication is inherently imperfect.
Additionally, the teacher educator’s motives and mediation should be exposed to self-assessment because mediation is being constructed in real-time within the student-teacher relationship, rooted in ethical dimensions.
Various factors, such as each teacher learner’s perezhivanie and learner reciprocity, the quality of teacher educator mediation in journal responses, and the uneven nature of the teacher-student relationship, shape each teacher’s individual path of development.

The SCOBA offers language teacher educators a systematic process for orienting to and addressing the prevalence of novice teacher emotion to encourage feeling-for-thinking.
Furthermore, the writing of reflection journals across the semester enabled the teacher educator to mediate each journal entry synchronically and diachronically to explore the emotional dissonance identified, to provide appropriate mediation in response, and to calibrate mediational responses in reaction to the next round of Josie’s journal responses.

Other forms of mediation are necessary, such as face-to-face interactions and peer interactions.
The analysis emphasizes human emotion and cognition as inherently social, while the SCOBA unifies emotion, cognition, and activity in a dynamic and dialectical process without privileging any component.
The novice language teacher is in a vulnerable position, facing teaching for the first time knowing that she or he lacks the expertise and experiential knowledge base to teach to her or his expectations.
Hence, teacher educators can use their expertise to mine the inevitable emotionality of novice teachers in purposeful and systematic ways that respond to the individual concerns of each teacher.

Updated: Mar. 03, 2015