«LEARNING TO TEACH PHYSICAL EDUCATION IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS: THE INFLUENCE OF DISPOSITIONS AND EXTERNAL STRUCTURES ON PRACTICE by Ian Pickup, BA (QTS) A ...»
The development of teacher identity is also thought to be an affective process, dependent upon power and agency (Zembylas, 2003), which leads to the possibility of multiple and changing selves. This is particularly relevant to the traditional role of the primary school teacher who is faced with teaching responsibilities in all curriculum subjects and for the pastoral care of all children in the class. In the primary school context, Woods and Jeffrey (2002) highlight the impact of ‘marketisation’ of learning policy-making on experienced teachers who had previously enjoyed autonomy in their work, characterised by child-centred approaches. Nias (1989) had earlier described primary teachers in England in the 1980s as characterised by individualism and belief in one’s own autonomy and the investment of personal resources.
The ‘teacherly-self’ (Kirk & Wall, 2010) may have increasingly come into conflict with official requirements of practice set out through the ‘assigned identity’ (Woods & Jeffrey, 2002, p. 96) prescribed in subsequent policy and tension may have led to stress, disaffection and unrest. This has been documented in relation to qualified and practising teachers, although the relationship of policy changes to trainee teacher identity, or the relationship between such experienced teachers and trainees in the school-based mentoring context within a specific subject have not been fully explored. The notion of complying with the status quo of practice in a school setting despite conflicting personal viewpoints and beliefs is a common theme across the literature regarding beginning teachers and one which may be central to issues at play in primary PEITT. Trainee teacher identity and its relationship with the ITT and wider school policy context may provide explanations for observed teaching behaviours and working practices.
Locating ‘physical’ within notions of self For this investigation, centred on ITT within PE, it is important to consider how the physical domain, with issues relating to the body, movement, health, physical activity and sport, contributes to identity development. This is also pertinent owing to the view that some primary teachers lack the confidence to deliver the activity areas specified within the prevailing NCPE (see chapter 2). ‘Physical self’ and its various definitions have a muchdebated history in the humanities, social sciences and psychology (Hattie, 1992; Byrne, 1996), and it is necessary here to consider the meanings of a range of associated terminology. ‘Selfconcept’ has been defined as an individual’s cognitive evaluation about themselves, including thoughts, beliefs and attitudes about the social world, and interactions in which they are involved (Hattie, 1992). This has been researched widely, with the work of James (1892,1961), Cooley (1902) and Mead (1934, 1941, 1982) initiating many of today’s accepted notions of self. Self-concept is said to be an important mediating factor that has influence on various behavioural, psychological, and health outcomes (Shavelson, Hubner, & Stanton, 1976; Harter, 1990; Byrne & Shavelson, 1996; Marsh & Hattie, 1996;; Fox, 2000; Guillon, Crocq, & Bailey, 2003) and its perceived importance has led to a plethora of research pertaining to its development, structure, and the constituent parts. The physical self-concept is relevant within a multidimensional approach, which emphasises various components of the self (Marsh, Craven, & Martin, 2006), a view adopted somewhat earlier by Carl Rogers (1951) who took a phenomenological stance in psychotherapy to explain behaviour as an attempt to maintain consistency of self-concept.
Shavelson, Hubner, and Stanton (1976) developed a structure of self which included a general self-concept as an overarching feature, beneath which subdivisions of academic and nonacademic categories were linked. Each subdivision was further divided into sub categories, with academic self-concept divided into subject areas and non-academic self-concept divided into social, emotional, and physical self-concepts. Further subdivisions are seen within physical self-concept, specifically physical ability and physical appearance. This adoption of a structured model provided a framework for others to follow when designing measures of selfconcept. Shavelson et al’s definition of self-concept combined a multitude of self-descriptions and mirrored Rogers’ (1951) views in relation to the importance of social interaction with others, and experiences with and interpretations of the environment. This model also suggested the potential usefulness of self-concept in explaining and predicting behaviour.
Such a multidimensional hierarchy model provides a broad framework for exploring the structure of self-concept, with a global dimension overarching physical, social, academic and other facets.
Marsh (1990) contends that researchers should measure self-concept at a specific level appropriate to their research question and physical self-concept scales have been developed in relation to a structural model of self-concept, most notably the Physical Self-Perception Profile (Fox & Corbin, 1989), the Physical Self-Concept Scales (Richards, 1987) and the Physical Self-Description Questionnaire (Marsh, Richards, Johnson, Roche & Tremayne, 1994). In Fox’s (1990) model of physical self-perception, a global ‘self-esteem’ overarches a general ‘physical self-worth,’ which is then subdivided further into four specific domains sports competence, attractive body, physical strength and physical condition. Interestingly, this model also includes a filter mechanism in-between each vertical division, enabling an individual to attach more or less ‘perceived importance’ to a specific element of the construct.
In essence, an individual may have low general physical self-worth and experience deterioration in self-esteem through negative physical experiences only if high levels of importance are attached to physical self-worth. The converse is also true in that it is possible, for example, to attach low importance to having an attractive body and to maintain a high level of general self-worth despite low self-perception in this domain. Fox’s model does not consider, though, the risk of dissonance when an individual’s perceived importance is at odds with the importance attached to a specific sub-domain by the society or culture in which the individual lives and works. Fox does describe, however, the relationship between antecedents (including ability, parental influence, body type, social norms and experience in sport and PE), self-esteem (structure and content), and physical activity involvement (type, pattern and frequency), arguing that these factors all contribute to an individual’s physical self-perception.
This relationship between previous life experiences and current levels of self-perception are central to this investigation. The notion of pre-ITT experiences impacting upon trainee teachers’ attitudes and perceptions has been the focus of earlier research within the PE ITT context, although little regard has been paid to the possibility of a shifting, dynamic self (Markus & Wurf, 1987) within the ITT context. This possibility for teacher identity change is discussed in the following section of this chapter.
Teacher identity change Teacher development literature has focused on changes taking place in trainees’ beliefs, concerns, self-images and identities (Bryan, 2003; Mullholland & Wallace, 2003; Drake, Spillane & Hufferd-Ackle, 2001) through the process of socialisation that takes place at the beginning of a teaching career (Fuller & Bown, 1975; Lacey, 1977; Zeicnher & Gore, 1990;
Burn, Hagger & Mutton,2000; Oosterheert & Vermunt, 2001). These studies have emphasised
the richness and complexity of the phenomenon, through which:
the shift from student to teacher is marked by the growing recognition of the new institutional role and by the complex interaction between different, and sometimes conflicting perspectives, beliefs and practices (Flores, 2001, p. 135).
The construction of such perceptions and beliefs is said to arise from contact with schools, fellow trainees, children, and literature (Williams & Soares, 2002) and such beliefs are not only individual and personal, they have a socio-historical dimension (Poulson, Avramidis, Fox, Medwell & Wray, 2001). Teachers’ personal beliefs and values influence decision making and problem-solving on a day-to-day basis (Carr & Kemmis, 1986; Zimpher & Howey, 1987; Tickle, 1994; Eraut, 1995; Hoyle & John, 1995; Garrett & Wrench, 2007) and studies relating to the experiences of newly qualified teachers have identified the ‘self’ as a crucial factor in both personal and professional development (MacLure, 1993; Dadds, 1996;
Goodson & Hargreaves, 1996; Sugrue, 1997; Lipka & Brinthaupt, 1999). It is also thought that decisions and behaviours demonstrated by individuals are strongly influenced by the dominant meanings of those behaviours in society (Lake, 2001). Fullan and Hargreaves (1992, p. 90) for example, emphasised the interrelationship between personal, educational and social reference points which they consider an ‘important catalyst for teacher development’. According to Bleach (1999), newcomers to the profession display a tendency ‘to accept things as they are’, unless they are encouraged to adopt new perspectives. Identities are not fixed but are constantly re-defined and refined in a process of becoming (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987).
Identity, it is suggested, is incomplete and dynamic, unstable and non-linear and an individual
confirms or problematises who she/he is/becomes:
To become is not to progress or regress along a series…becoming is a verb with a consistency all its own; it does not reduce to, or lead to, “appearing”, “being”, “equalling”, or “producing” (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, pp. 238-239).
Identity is ‘constantly contested under transforming shifts’ (Zembylas, 2003, p. 221) where people are vulnerable social objects who are produced and are being ‘reproduced by the social culture within which they live and work’ (Britzman, 1993, p.28). Teacher identity is therefore open to change and the ‘conditions of possibility’ (Foucalt, 1979) of whom and what a teacher might be or become are set by social, cultural and institutional discourses (Zembylas, 2003).
This raises significant questions regarding the possibilities of primary teacher identity formation and the role that schools, policies and the ITT process itself can play in this ongoing process. A key focus of this research is to determine whether it is feasible for all trainee primary teachers to become effective teachers of PE and whether identity and/or contextual factors frame the extent to which this is possible. The successful development of a teaching identity during the early stages of a teaching career can be problematic, particularly where ideological differences exist between the beginning teacher and the school community (Sparkes, Templin, & Schempp, 1993; White & Moss, 2003; Alsup, 2005; Chong & Low, 2009; Hong, 2010). In relation to ITT it has been suggested that supporting the development of a congruent and confident sense of self as teacher should be a priority within ITT (Ashby, Hobson, Tracey, Malderez,, Tomlinson, Roper, Chambers, & Healy, 2008; Iredale, Bailey, Orr & Wormald, 2011), particularly within the role of the school-based mentor (Edwards, 1998;
Hobson, Ashby, Malderez, & Tomlinson, 2009).
The development of a teaching identity does not, however, take place in isolation from other aspects of professional learning. Tang (2004, p.186) suggests that three simultaneous concepts are at work during ITT, namely the ‘framing process’, development of the ‘teaching self’ and ‘knowledge construction’, and that each can be drawn together to ‘illuminate understanding of professional learning’. Framing equates to the interaction between practitioners and practice situations as they develop the ‘artistry of professional practice’ (Furlong & Maynard, 1995;
Griggs & Thomas, 2009; Cheng, Cheng & Tang, 2010). The trainee primary teacher, faced with a multitude of tasks in the practice context will prioritise behaviours and routines according to formal expectations, personal motivations and the influence of colleagues in school. It seems possible that the framing of primary PE during school based experiences could result in a high priority where trainees are expected to teach and to be observed doing so, or a low priority where accepted local practice places little importance on teaching the subject or doing so to a particularly high or consistent standard. The way in which PE is framed during primary ITT is relevant to the research questions and therefore a dimension for enquiry which will foster a greater understanding of trainee teacher development and the features of ITT which impact on this.
Professional learning is said to take place in three arenas, namely pre training experiences, the teacher education programme in university, and the school based training context (Kagan, 1992, Bullough, 1997, Fairbanks & Meritt 1998, Samuel & Stephens, 2000; Tang, 2002).
Within each arena of professional learning, the concept of reflection is thought to be key (Schon, 1983, 1987; Sutherland, Howard & Markauskaite, 2010), whether ‘reflection-inaction’ or ‘reflection-on-action’, that is whether during or subsequent to a teaching episode.
Eraut (1995) sees reflection as a process in which the teacher identifies a problem, reads the situation, makes a decision concerning action and then proceeds. However, the prime objective of the school experience for trainee teachers may be more based on the daily practicalities of teaching rather than those of critical analysis and reflection (Hodkinson & Hodkinson, 1999). Simply getting through a demanding and multifarious day may be a trainee teacher’s key objective. It is generally accepted, however, that the ITT process should encourage trainee teachers to be reflective, to consider the approaches that they take in class, and to explore personal biographies and beliefs in order to develop as teachers.
Teacher identity is therefore thought to be entwined with professional practice (Nias, 1989;
Mockler, 2011). It has been suggested that the successive educational reforms detailed in chapter 2 have challenged personal and professional identities of teachers (MacLure, 1993;