Towards a holistic understanding of student teachers becoming resilient on school placement

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Nation, Una Evelyn
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University College Cork
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This research aims to contribute to our understanding of resilience and how it is negotiated and achieved by student teachers. The purpose of this research is to explore the lived experience of student teachers during their school placement. The fact that student teachers find teaching practice intense is well known. During the initial teacher education phase, the student teacher attempts to perform a coherent, unitary student teacher self that will be viewed favourably by pupils, colleagues, parents, and the tutor as a “good teacher” (MacDonald, 1996). This adds to the intensity of the teaching placement, which itself is underpinned by, constant surveillance. The multi-dimensional nature of resilience formed the basis of the conceptual framework, this was used to build on existing research, and in so doing, helped to clarify why and how resilience is formed, and how student teachers respond in the face of adversity. The conceptual framework goes beyond the basic interpretation of resilience which views resilience as the ability to bounce back in the face of adversity (Windle, 2010) and sees resilience as a complex and multi-dimensional, interrelated phenomenon. This framework offers a holistic view of resilience as involving (a) attachment and psychological strength (b) communities of practice and (c) negotiation of power relations. This interpretive research is located within the constructivist paradigm. This paradigm suited the study as it enabled the identification of factors that might not be exposed or described through the use of statistics, which offer generalisations of the student teacher population. Throughout one academic school year, qualitative data was collected using semi-structured interviews and reflections from six student teachers. The data was considered using an interpretivist framework that emerged from the voices of the participants. Arising from this research is the notion of the ongoing process of becoming resilient in student teaching as involving the development and negotiation of three key forms of self; namely, the relational self, coping self and monitored self. The negotiation of these forms of self-demonstrate that student teachers comply, resist and work around the demands of the placement. Performativity – or responding publicly to the multiple and at times alienating demands of placement is a means of conforming and in doing so, coping, for student teachers. The study supports the view that people cannot be simplistically reduced to being good or bad student teachers; rather they negotiate a range of selves and a range of challenges in the process of becoming resilient on school placement. Implications for policy, practice, and future research on student teacher practice on resilience are discussed.
Resilience , Student teachers , Relational self , Coping self , Monitored self , Attachment , Communities of practice , Power , Performativity
Nation, U. E. 2019. Towards a holistic understanding of student teachers becoming resilient on school placement. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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