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Theorizing Emotions reflects the recent turn to emotions in academia—not just in sociology but also in psychology, evolu
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Table of contents :
List of tables
1 Introduction: a need of sociological inquiry into teachers’ emotional experiences
2 Sociological perspectives of teachers’ emotional experiences
3 Values and goals of teaching
4 Power and status, workload, and emotional experiences in teaching
5 School administrative system and emotional experiences in teaching
6 Structural education reforms and emotional experiences in teaching
7 Positive student-related matters and emotional experiences in teaching
8 Conclusion: teachers as disempowered moral agents
Teachers’ Work and Emotions
Being a teacher is often thought of as an emotionally fulfilling job, with many positive experiences in watching students grow and mature. However, as Tsang’s research shows, there are plenty of negative emotional experiences in this line of work as well. Given the recent attention towards mental health and well-being, this book addresses these negative experiences and provides recommendations for dealing with them. Focusing on teachers in Hong Kong, Tsang investigates the social mechanisms that arouse such negative emotional experiences, otherwise known as caam2. He asserts that these feelings are socially constructed, and it is only by understanding the causes and feelings can we begin to improve teachers’ emotional well-being and teaching quality. Using a theoretical framework based on a critical review and synthesis of five existing perspectives, including labor process perspective, school administration perspective, emotional labor perspective, social interaction perspective, and teacher identity perspective, Tsang does precisely that, exploring the social process of these emotional experiences and the interplay between teacher agency and social structure. These findings go a long way in ameliorating teacher experiences all over the world. Kwok Kuen Tsang is Associate Professor at College of Educational Adminis tration, Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University, China.
Routledge Series on Schools and Schooling in Asia Series editor: Kerry J. Kennedy
Teacher Evaluation Policies and Practices in Japan How Performativity Works in Schools Masaaki Katsuno Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment in Japan Beyond Lesson Study Koji Tanaka, Kanae Nishioka and Terumasa Ishii School Counselling in a Chinese Context Supporting Students in Need in Hong Kong Edited by Ming-tak Hue Developing Distributed Curriculum Leadership in Hong Kong Schools Edmond Hau-fai Law From Citizenship Education to National Education Perceptions of National Identity and National Education of Hong Kong’s Secondary School Teachers Eric King-man Chong Deciphering Chinese School Leadership Conceptualisation, Context and Complexities Allan Walker and Haiyan Qian Teacher Empowerment and Cultural Context The Case of Brunei Darussalam Shanthi Thomas Teachers’ Work and Emotions A Sociological Analysis Kwok Kuen Tsang For the full list of titles in the series, please visit: www.routledge.com/ Routledge-Series-on-Schools-and-Schooling-in-Asia/book-series/RSSSA
Teachers’ Work and Emotions A Sociological Analysis Kwok Kuen Tsang
First published 2019 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2019 Kwok Kuen Tsang The right of Kwok Kuen Tsang to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Tsang, Kwok Kuen, author. Title: Teachers’ work and emotions : a sociological analysis / Kwok Kuen Tsang. Description: Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY : Routledge, 2019. | Series: Routledge series on schools and schooling in Asia | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2018033374 | ISBN 9781138346079 (hardback) | ISBN 9780429437502 (e-book) Subjects: LCSH: Teachers—Mental health—China—Hong Kong. | Teachers—Job stress—China—Hong Kong. | Education—Social aspects—China—Hong Kong. | Teaching—Psychological aspects. Classification: LCC LB2840 .T83 2019 | DDC 371.102095125—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2018033374 ISBN: 978-1-138-34607-9 (hbk) ISBN: 978-0-429-43750-2 (ebk) Typeset in Galliard by Apex CoVantage, LLC
List of tablesvi Acknowledgmentvii 1 Introduction: a need of sociological inquiry into teachers’ emotional experiences
2 Sociological perspectives of teachers’ emotional experiences19 3 Values and goals of teaching
4 Power and status, workload, and emotional experiences in teaching
5 School administrative system and emotional experiences in teaching
6 Structural education reforms and emotional experiences in teaching
7 Positive student-related matters and emotional experiences in teaching
8 Conclusion: teachers as disempowered moral agents
1.1 Informants’ profile 1.2 Interview questions 1.3 Education policy documents collected for analysis in the present study 1.4 Sources of news clippings 3.1 The values and goals of teaching 4.1 Workload related to teaching responsibility, extracurricular activities, school teams, and special roles among the informants 4.2 The major school teams and committees and their functions in the secondary schools 5.1 Comparison of practices of the administrative system in “happy schools” and “unhappy schools” 6.1 Performance indicators
9 11 13 14 36 45 51 70 97
This book project is funded by 2018 Comprehensive Discipline Construction Fund of Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University.
A need of sociological inquiry into teachers’ emotional experiences
Teaching is a stressful occupation in modern societies (Kokkinos, 2007), because it requires teachers to work with challenging students and parents (Chang, 2013; Prakke, van Peet, & van der Wolf, 2007) and implement multiple instructional, administrative, and pastoral duties with limited time and resources (Brante, 2009). It seems that the stressful conditions in teaching have been intensified since the implementations of education reforms in the 1980s (Day & Lee, 2011). In the past three decades, thus, we have witnessed that the population of unhappy teachers, who suffer from stress, exhaustion, frustration, depression, anxiety, and other negative emotions in teaching, is increasing all over the world. In the U.S., for example, over 60% of teachers’ enthusiasm in teaching is decreasing, but work stress and exhaustion is increasing (The American Federation of Teachers, 2015, 2017). In the U.K., 75% of teachers report that they have suffered from stress, depression, anxiety, and panic attacks (The Guardian, 2018) and 43% report that they plan to leave the teaching profession within five years because of the increasing work pressure (The Guardian, 2016). Similarly, research has shown that many teachers suffer from serious levels of stress, anxiety, and the sense of powerlessness in life (Howard & Johnson, 2004) resulting in a high teacher turnover rate in Australia (Schipp, 2017). Indeed, similar patterns of the emotional experiences in teaching are reported in other societies like Canada, Germany, Norway, New Zealand, Netherlands, Turkey, Spain, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kenya, and India (Betoret, 2009; Bianchi, Schonfeld, Mayor, & Laurent, 2016; Bullard & Hosoda, 2015; Cheung & Hui, 2011; Danilewitz, 2017; Eres & Atanasoska, 2011; Ko, Chan, Lai, & Boey, 2000; Koros, Momanyi, & Chakua, 2018; McCarthy, Lambert, & Ullrich, 2012; Prakke et al., 2007; Shukla & Trivedi, 2008). Since a chronic experience of the negative emotions may damage teachers’ mental and psychological well-being (Lee, Tsang, & Kwok, 2007) and the quality and effectiveness of teaching (Sutton, 2005), the increasing population of unhappy teachers on a global scale draws the attention of education researchers (Frenzel, 2014). In order to improve the well-being of teachers and/or the quality of teaching, the researchers have investigated how the negative emotional experiences of teachers are constructed. In the literature, the psychological perspectives, especially the theory of burnout, have dominated these investigations (Lau, Chan, Yuen, Myers, & Lee, 2008; Santoro, 2012).
Psychological perspective of teachers’ emotional experiences: theory of burnout The psychological theory of burnout sets out to explain why some people are more prone to intense negative emotions or psychological symptoms than others in a similar and even the same working conditions. According to the theory, burnout is a psychological construct that describes employees’ negative emotional experiences in the workplace, such as the feelings of frustration, anxiety, exhaustion, and depression (Bakker, Schaufeli, Sixma, & Bosveld, 2001). In a general sense, burnout means the exhaustion of employees to maintain involvement in or commitment to work (Schaufeli & Leiter, 2009). More specifically, it consists of three dimensions, including emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a lack of accomplishment (Maslach, 1993). Emotional exhaustion refers to the feelings of being emotionally overextended and drained; depersonalization refers to the feelings of being cynical and detached from one’s work or other persons at work; the lack of accomplishment refers to the declined sense of competence, efficacy, and achievement (Maslach, 1993; Maslach, Schaufeli, & Leiter, 2001). Burnout has significant impacts on employees’ job performance and health. For example, Maslach et al. (2001) point out that burnout is associated with employees’ absenteeism, intention to leave the job, actual turnover, and low productivity. They also find that burnout is correlated positively to mental illness like neurasthenia. Moreover, psychologists have demonstrated that the chronic experience of stress is the most important cause of burnout and the relationship between stress and burnout may be mediated or moderated by a variety of personal and psychological variables, such as gender, age, coping strategies, emotional intelligence, job attitudes, and personality traits (Maslach, 1993; Maslach et al., 2001; Schaufeli & Leiter, 2009). Since the topic of burnout is of significant importance to employees’ lives and job performance, education researchers have also applied the theory of burnout to investigate teachers’ emotional experiences in teaching (Chan, 2011). These studies have identified different independent variables of teacher burnout. First, the research has identified several stressors that cause teachers to burn out. For example, Tang and Yeung’s (1999) study identifies six stressors, including students’ misbehavior and undesirable attitudes, supervisors and inspectors, examination demand, non-teaching duties, workload, and lack of recognition for teaching and administrative tasks. In another study, Kokkinos (2007) indicates students’ behaviors, managing student misbehavior, relationships with colleagues, role ambiguity, poor working conditions, work overload, appraisal of teachers, time constraints, and specific teaching demands as the stressors. Similarly, Skaalvik and Skaalvik (2017) show that discipline problems of students, time pressure, low student motivation, and value dissonance are the stressors leading to teacher burnout. In addition to the stressors, personality trait is a significant independent variable of teacher burnout (Kokkinos, 2007). Among the bid-five personality traits, for instance, studies have reported that neuroticism is a stronger predictor to
Introduction 3 burnout (Cano-García, Padilla-Muñoza, & Carrasco-Ortizb, 2005; Maslach et al., 2001; Schaufeli & Enzmann, 1998). Furthermore, Chiu and Kosinski (1997) find that positive affectivity personality teachers are more able to cope with work stress and burnout, because teachers with this personality tended to focus on the positive side of the self, events, and environments. More recently, Chan (2011, 2013) has demonstrated that if teachers have personality traits like hardiness, gratitude, and forgiveness, it is easier for them to overcome stress and in turn have less burnout or better subjective well-being and mental health. Coping strategies are also identified as an important variable predicting teacher burnout (Chan, 2007). As Yeung and Liu (2007) indicate, the burnt out teachers are generally those who lack effective strategies or skills to cope with stressful workplaces. According to S.A. Seidman and Zager (1991), effective coping strategies are the adaptive approach, such as hobbies, because they find that the adaptive strategies may reduce the level of teacher burnout. On the other hand, they find that maladaptive strategies such as excessive alcohol consumption may be associated with higher teacher burnout. In their study, moreover, Chan and Hui (1995) systematically examine the relationship between the three dimensions of burnout and different coping strategies among Hong Kong secondary schoolteachers. They find that the avoidant coping strategies are significantly and positively related to all dimensions of teacher burnout. That means that comparing with the teachers who positively and proactively face stressors, the teachers who avoid and escape to deal with stressors are more prone to burnout. In addition, other studies also indicate different types of coping strategies either positively or negatively associated with teacher stress and burnout (e.g., Austin, Shah, & Muncer, 2005; Griffith, Steptoe, & Cropley, 1999). Furthermore, studies have indicated that teacher self-efficacy (e.g., Schwarzer & Hallum, 2008), emotion management (e.g., Iltaf & Gulzar, 2013), emotional intelligence (e.g., Chan, 2006), social support (e.g., Mo, 1991), resilience (e.g., Howard & Johnson, 2004), and demographic variables like age, gender, teaching experiences, and marital status (e.g., Lau, Yuen, & Chan, 2005) are factors significantly affecting, mediating, and/or moderating the level of teacher burnout. Accordingly, the psychological studies successfully identify and explain some potential causes of teachers’ negative emotional experiences in teaching. The research findings also provide us insights to improve the teachers’ capacity to combat stress and burnout. For example, according to the research, we can improve teachers’ capability to cope with stress and burnout by providing training and intervention which aim at changing teachers’ personality, attitude, coping strategies, self-efficacy, emotion management, resilience, and/or emotional intelligence. However, the major problem of these psychological studies is that they have neglected the structural causes of burnout. As Schwab (1983) notes, such a neglect may attribute all negative outcomes to individual teachers, making them solely responsible for burning out. Moreover, researchers have pointed out that burnout is not only caused by psychological factors, it may also be affected by structural factors, such as the characteristics of occupations and organizations
4 Introduction (Dworkin, 2009; Santoro, 2012). In other words, the psychological explanations about teacher burnout may distract our attention from identifying the structural roots of teachers’ emotional experiences in teaching and in turn create unnecessary accusations on teachers about their imperfect personality traits, coping strategies, self-efficacy, emotion management, resilience, and emotional intelligence. In addition, as noted at the beginning of the chapter, the large number of unhappy teachers on a global scale implies that the negative emotional experiences in teaching go beyond psychological factors and have become a social issue. Thus, the problem of teachers’ negative emotional experiences in teaching may not be effectively improved if we only pay attention to the psychological factors of individual teachers and ignore the structural causes (Dworkin, 1987; Tsang & Jiang, 2018). In order to patch up the weaknesses of the psychological research, it is theoretically significant to approach teachers’ emotional experiences in teaching from sociological perspectives in order to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the emotional experiences in teaching.
Sociological perspective of teachers’ emotional experiences in teaching Sociologists have regarded emotions as socially constructed experiences in the sense that what and how social actors feel are conditioned by social structures in which they situate (Turner & Stets, 2005). Some researchers investigate how ideologies and cultures define what emotions social actors need to feel and express in a given situation (e.g., Hochschild, 1979). Some researchers are interested in the examination of how emotions are stratified by power, status, and class (e.g., Turner, 2011) and by gender (e.g., Hearn, 1993). And some other researchers explore the pattern of emotionality in power relations (e.g., Kemper, 2006), exchange relations (e.g., Lawler & Thye, 2006), ritualized social interactions (e.g., Collins, 2004), and institutionalized interactions (e.g., Stryker, 2004). In addition to social structures, to many sociologists, agency, the capacity to reflexively make choices and meanings for actions, takes an important role in the social construction of emotions (Turner & Stets, 2005). According to them, emotions can be conceptualized as self-feelings. That means emotions are feelings that social actors consciously feel toward the self/selves and other objects aroused by the interpretation of the self/selves and the objects (Turner, 2007). Thus, positive and negative emotions are the outcomes of positive and negative interpretations (Turner, 2007). For example, if a teacher perceives teacherparent interaction as a thankless duty, negative emotions like hate and dislike will be aroused toward such kinds of interaction; otherwise, positive emotions like joy and satisfaction will be aroused (Lasky, 2000). Moreover, positive emotions also motivate social actors to engage in and be committed to those things that they positively interpret; on the other hand, negative emotions motivate social actors to avoid those things that they negatively interpret (Collins, 2004; Turner, 2007). Therefore, the teacher in the above example may not be willing to participate in any teacher-parent interaction if he or she has negative emotions
Introduction 5 about that, while he or she may welcome such a kind of interaction if he or she has positive emotions about that (Lasky, 2000). It does not mean the sociologists who emphasize on agency do not see emotions as socially constructed, because reflexivity is shaped by the social structures around people. Studies show that people with different sociocultural backgrounds may interpret an object and express a feeling toward the object differently (e.g., Hochschild, 1979; Kemper, 1987; Scheff, 1990). These sociological conceptions of emotional experiences influence education researchers’ understandings of teachers’ emotional experiences and then develop different theories and perspectives of teachers’ emotions (see Chapter 2). In general, these theories and perspectives come up with two themes, which are the value and goals of teaching and social constraints. People choose to become teachers with different kinds of values and goals. Some people may want to get the extrinsic rewards from teaching, such as salary and social status, while other people may teach because of intrinsic/altruistic values, such as the sense of calling, the interest in a subject field, and the aspiration to nurture students (Lam, 2011). Research has shown that making a difference in students’ lives tends to be the most important value and goal of teaching for teachers (Sanger, 2017). When teachers think they can successfully attain the value and goal of teaching via their labor, their positive emotional experiences in teaching may be aroused; otherwise, their negative emotional experiences in teaching may be aroused (Schutz, Aultman, & Williams-Johnson, 2009). However, the teacher agency to attain the value and goal of teaching is socially constrained by social structures (Kelchtermans, 2005). According to the literature, the social constraints include social interactions and relations (Hargreaves, 2001a), emotional culture of teaching (Isenbarger & Zembylas, 2006), school administrative system (Leithwood & Beatty, 2008), and structural education reforms (Santoro, 2011). Therefore, studying teachers’ emotional experiences in teaching may require investigating what the major value and goal of teaching among the teachers should be, whether the teachers successfully attain the major value and goal of teaching from their points of view, what and how social constraints affect the teacher agency to attain the major value and goal of teaching, and how the teachers feel in teaching.
Teachers’ emotional experiences in the Hong Kong context In an attempt to “answer” the questions, I would like to present my study on the emotional experiences of teachers in Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, teaching has been described as an unrewarding and unenjoyable occupation in which teachers are full of negative emotions (Tsang & Kwong, 2016). For example, Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers (2010, 2015, 2016) has indicated that over 80% of teachers feel stressed and exhausted, over 40% are frustrated, and nearly 30% are unhappy in teaching in Hong Kong. According to Y.C. Cheng (2009), 50% of teachers in Hong Kong feel powerless in teaching, over 25% of Hong Kong teachers are depressed and anxious, and between 37% and 56% have
6 Introduction considered resigning from the profession. Lee et al. (2007) note that the ratio of teachers suffering from anxiety and depression is two to three times higher than the general public in the Hong Kong society. Thus, the media frequently reports cases of teacher suicide or mental illness caused by the negative emotional experiences in the recent two decades in Hong Kong (e.g., Ng, 2011). To some extent, according to Pang and Tao (2012), the prevalence of these negative emotional experiences in teaching in Hong Kong may be much higher than that in other societies. In the Hong Kong community, people generally believe workload is the most significant stressor to teachers (Yeung & Liu, 2007). Indeed, teachers in Hong Kong have to undertake many teaching (e.g., teaching 5–6 lessons a day and marking students’ work), administrative (e.g., documentation), and pastoral duties (e.g., organizing many extracurricular activities) (Morris & Adamson, 2010). Therefore, they need to spend 12–16 hours to finish all the duties everyday (Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers, 2015). As a result, they may not have time for leisure and rest (Tsang & Kwong, 2016). According to Sweeting (2004), the negative emotional experiences of teachers in teaching have begun to manifest as serious problems in Hong Kong since the 1990s when structural education reforms were initiated and implemented. In brief, the structural reforms, especially the school-based management and accountability measures, have profound impacts on teachers’ work as well as the whole education system in Hong Kong. For example, teachers are being deprofessionalized, the workload of teachers is being intensified, the power of students and parents is rising but the authority of teachers is decreasing, and the bureaucratic and managerial values of education become more important than the instructional values of education in the education system in the context of the reforms (Choi, 2005; Morris & Adamson, 2010; Tse, 2005). All these teaching conditions described above may socially and structurally lead to teacher negative emotional experiences in teaching, so Hong Kong teachers will be information-rich cases for the exploration of the social construction process of teachers’ negative emotional experiences and the investigation of the roles which the value and goal of teaching and different kinds of social constraints play in the social construction process. Therefore, the research findings may have important implications to improve teachers’ emotional experiences in teaching through social and structural interventions. Moreover, the teaching conditions in Hong Kong are similar to those situations in many Western and Eastern countries in which there is a similar trend of structural education reforms causing teachers to feel unhappy in teaching (Carlyle & Woods, 2002; Comber & Nixon, 2009; Hargreaves, 2003; Robertson, 2000; Santoro, 2012; Saunders, 2013). In this sense, the explanations and implications of the teachers’ emotional experiences in Hong Kong may also be applicable to other education systems.
Research method At the end of the introductory chapter, I would like to tell you about how I conducted the research. In the research, I would only focus on the emotional
Introduction 7 experiences of secondary schoolteachers in Hong Kong. The reason to focus on secondary schoolteachers is that, compared with primary schoolteachers, secondary schoolteachers are more susceptible to pressure and stress in Hong Kong in recent years (Ho & Tsang, 2008). Thus, studying this group of teachers may provide opportunities to explore the reasons and patterns of teachers’ emotional experiences in teaching in Hong Kong. In this study, basically I employed two qualitative methods for data collection, including in-depth interviews and analysis of public documents and records.
In-depth interview and sampling First, I collected data with the in-depth interview method, because the method allowed me to gather rich narrative accounts of teachers’ thoughts, feelings, and experiences in teaching (I. Seidman, 2006). Before describing how the informants were selected, it is necessary to provide a brief introduction on the Hong Kong secondary school system. This is because the secondary school system provided the study with sampling criteria. In Hong Kong, there have been three major types of secondary schools: government schools, aided schools, and Direct Subsidy Scheme (DSS) schools. Government schools are directly financed and managed by the Education Bureau. Aided schools are financed by public funding, but operated by religious bodies, charitable organizations, fraternity associations or voluntary agencies. On the other hand, DSS schools are private schools which are subsidized or assisted by the government in the form of capital grants and bought places. Aided secondary schools have accounted for around 80% of the school population, DSS secondary schools have accounted for around 10%, and government secondary schools have accounted for less than 10%. All secondary schools have also been divided into three Bands, with Band 1 schools being the best and most prestigious schools, and Band 3 schools being the worst and underperforming schools. Moreover, every Hong Kong secondary school comprises junior forms which consist of forms 1, 2, and 3 (grades 7, 8, and 9), and senior forms, which consist of forms 4, 5, and 6 (grades 10, 11, and 12). This change came about with the New Senior Secondary curriculum reform (NSS reform) in 2009, leading to an academic structure of 3–3–4 (3 years’ junior secondary education + 3 years’ senior secondary education + 4 years’ university education) from 3–2–2–3 (3 junior secondary education + 2 senior secondary education + 2 sixth form education + 3 years’ university education). In addition, the Hong Kong secondary school system categorizes teachers into Graduate Master (GM) and Certificate Master (CM) teachers. Conceptually, GM teachers are university graduates, while CM teachers are not. Nevertheless, since the teacher professionalization movement in the 1990s, almost all secondary teachers have completed university education nowadays (Sweeting, 2008). Thus, the educational level of GM and CM teachers are similar, and the only difference between them is the salary. The salary of GM teachers is higher than that of CM. In addition to GM and CM teachers, there is a type of teaching position called a Senior Graduate Master (SGM) teacher. Basically, SGMs are experienced
8 Introduction teachers who are responsible for performing administrative and managerial roles in schools. Finally, some teachers in Hong Kong are temporary and contractbased, while other teachers are permanent. Accordingly, there is a variety of secondary teachers in Hong Kong: teachers in government, aided, and DSS schools; CM, GM, and SGM teachers; contract and permanent teachers; teachers teaching different subjects and forms. I believed that different types of teachers might have different emotional experiences in teaching. Therefore, I employed the strategy of maximum variation sampling to select a variety of secondary teachers in order to understand the phenomenon of teachers’ emotional experiences at work more comprehensively. In addition to maximum variation sampling, the strategy of snowballing sampling was also used. Since I had worked in a secondary school for two years and I had friends who taught in other secondary schools, I first invited my ex-colleagues and friends to participate in the in-depth interviews. Second, I asked them to introduce other secondary schoolteachers to me through their social networks. Data collection lasted from February to June 2012. In the first two months of data collection, I interviewed six secondary schoolteachers, all of which had less than six years of teaching experiences. After a brief analysis of the interview data, I wondered whether the findings were applicable to the more experienced secondary schoolteachers, because life history research on teacher careers suggests that teachers with different teaching experiences or in different career stages may have different values and goals of teaching and understandings about their work (e.g., Sikes, 1985). As a result, I further interviewed an additional seven teachers whose teaching experiences would have been more than six years in May 2012. After a brief analysis of the interview data, I noted that most of the interviewed teachers taught language and art subjects, such as English, Chinese, Chinese History, and Liberal Studies, and most of them taught in Band 2 and Band 3 aided secondary schools. Therefore, I further invited teachers who taught science subjects such as Biology, Chemistry, and Integrated Sciences and other kinds of subjects like Mathematics, Business, Accounting, Financial Studies, Tourism and Hospitality Studies to take part in in-depth interviews. At the same time, I also searched for teachers from Band 1 schools, government schools, and DSS schools. Throughout the sampling process, I kept doing initial and preliminary data analysis in order to keep track of emerging themes, concepts, and propositions that might inform me whether additional data was needed (Taylor & Bogdan, 1998). At the end of June 2012, sampling and interviews ended because the data was saturated (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Finally, 21 secondary teachers from 10 secondary schools were interviewed. The characteristics of the informants are summarized in Table 1.1.
Interview procedure First, informants chose a place that they felt comfortable to do the interviews. Before starting an interview, I explained to the informant about the research purpose, research procedure, potential risks and benefits of the research, and their
Table 1.1 Informants’ profile* Career stage
Teaching experience (age)
9 months (31)
6 years (28)
2 years (29)
Liberal Studies Chinese History Chinese Chinese History English
2 years (26)
Band 2 government (School A) Band 2 aided school (School C) Band 2 DSS school (School D) Band 3 aided school (School E)
6 years (31)
5 years (27)
2 years (30)
1 year (26)
9 months (27)
11 years (36)
9 years (34)
15 years (37)
12 years (34)
Biology Integrated Sciences Chinese History Chinese
Liberal Studies Tourism and Hospitality Studies Chinese Chinese History Chemistry Integrated Sciences Mathematics Economics Liberal Studies Physics Integrated Sciences Mathematics Liberal Studies
Band 2 government school (School A) Band 1 aided school (School I) Band 3 aided school (School E) Band 3 aided school (School E) Band 3 aided school (School H) Band 3 aided school (School B) Band 3 aided school (School E) Band 3 aided school (School F) Band 3 aided school (School G) (Continued)
10 Introduction Table 1.1 (Continued) Career stage
Teaching experience (age)
9 years (39)
Band 3 aided school (School G)
12 years (35)
Business, Accounting and Financial Studies Liberal Studies English
20 years (42)
40 years (59)
26 years (46)
30 years (51)
Tourism and Hospitality Studies Chinese History English
30 years (50)
25 years (49)
Band 3 aided school (School G) Band 1 aided school (School J) Band 3 aided school (School G) Band 3 aided school (School G) Band 3 aided school (School G) Band 3 aided school (School G) Band 3 aided school (School F)
Pseudo names are used for all informants.
right in the research. I also asked for his/her consent to tape-record the interview conversations. Since all informants agreed to tape-recording, all interviews were tape-recorded. When the informant understood and agreed to participate in this research, I asked them to sign a consent form, with a duplicate copy, which stated all the information about the research which I also explained. After he/she signed, I gave a copy of the signed consent form to him/her and I kept another one. All interviews were semi-structured and tape-recorded. Each informant had been interviewed for 1.5 hours on average. During the interviews, I asked the informants to introduce themselves briefly on the subjects they were teaching, their age, teaching position, and teaching experience. Then, I asked the questions listed in Table 1.2. During the interview, the question sequence was flexibly organized. Generally, I would began with Questions 1 and 2, because for these
Introduction 11 Table 1.2 Interview questions (1) What kinds of duties are you responsible for in your school? (2) Would you mind describing your working conditions? (3) How do you feel about your work and your working conditions? (4) Would you mind telling me the reasons why you teach? (5) Would you mind telling me about some of your emotional experiences at work during your teaching career?
questions, the informants were just required to give straightforward descriptions (I. Seidman, 2006). In many cases, in response to Question 2, the informants would express their feelings about their work or teaching conditions, especially the negative ones. Question 3 aimed to follow up on how the teachers felt about, and interpreted, their work. Question 5 aimed to obtain a more balanced and comprehensive picture of teachers’ emotional experiences in teaching. Other questions were then asked for clarification and to elicit more information about the informants’ experiences. If the informants did not share thoughts about their interpretation of teachers’ work, they would be asked Question 4 in order to explore their general reasons for starting the teaching career. In addition to designed questions, questions out of the interview schedule and follow-up questions were probed. These questions were used to ask the informants to make clarification or further explanation about some points they had made. For example, an informant mentioned that he thought he taught boring lessons. Then I asked him what he meant by “boring lessons”, why he thought the lessons were “boring”, what made him teach “boring” rather than “interesting” lessons. Through probing, I understood “boring lessons” meant to him a lesson without interactive components or activities between teachers and students. He could not teach “interestingly” because the interactive components or activities were time-consuming and less effective to prepare his students, whose abilities were not high, for public examination. During each interview, I used a cross-checking technique to improve the credibility of the interview data (Minichiello, Aroni, Timewell, & Alexander, 1995). First, I often restated what informants said to check whether my understandings about their accounts were correct. Second, I checked the consistency of an informant’s response to a question by asking another similar question or a rephrased question at a different point in time of an interview. When I found his/ her answers were different, I asked, “Do you mind explaining something for me that one time you told me this, but what you said another time doesn’t go along with that?” in order to explore his/her viewpoints in-depth.
Public documents and records From the interview data, it was identified that school administration and education reforms were important themes. Thus, I decided to explore how school administration and education reforms conditioned and shaped the informants’
12 Introduction emotional experiences at work. I was particularly interested to know the administrative structure of the schools and the impacts of education reforms on school administration and teachers’ work over time. As a result, I planned to interview school principals, because I thought they were knowledgeable about how a school was administrated and structured and how school administration and teachers’ work responded to education reforms over time. I tried to contact some secondary schools, told them I would like to interview the principals, and explained my research purpose to them. However, I received all rejections. Then, I tried to invite the principal of the secondary school where I studied before, but the principal I knew retired recently. The new principal did not want to be interviewed, because she said it was her first year to take the principal role. She thought she was not eligible to give me relevant information. Since I did not have access to school principals, I changed my plan of data collection from interviewing school principals to collecting public documents and records, especially the documents from informants’ schools that were publicly posted on the school websites, education policy documents, and newspapers. The reason to collect the documents from the informants’ schools was to understand the administrative and management structure and practice of the informants’ schools. In particular, I collected annual school plans, annual school reports, school development plans, school profiles, and school organizational charts from the school websites, because these documents recorded the schools’ planning, administrative and management structure, administration policies, rules and procedures, past activities and programs, evaluation and appraisal systems. I only collected the documents from the informants’ schools rather than other schools in order to triangulate the informants’ accounts about their school administration and management. Education policy documents and newspapers enable us to access information on education reforms and the impacts of the reforms on the Hong Kong education system over time (Sweeting, 2004). Moreover, these documents and records could also be used to triangulate the informants’ accounts about the impacts of education reforms on them in their numerous years of teaching. Only the education policy documents and newspapers from 1980 to 2011 were collected and analyzed, because the education reforms which were initiated and implemented from the 1980s had significant and far-reaching consequences to the Hong Kong education system (K.M. Cheng, 2002; Sweeting, 2004). It is noted that the consultation documents were not analyzed in this study, because the consultation documents served to collect public opinions before policy implementations rather than final policy decisions. Table 1.3 lists the education policy documents collected and analyzed in the present study. The newspapers on Hong Kong education were explored from two channels. The first was WiseNews. WiseNews was a news clipping database that contained a lot of news about Greater China, including Hong Kong, produced by newspapers, magazines and journals from across Greater China regions. I searched the keywords of education reform, curricular reform, education system, education policy, education, secondary school, schooling, teaching, teacher, and curriculum
Table 1.3 Education policy documents collected for analysis in the present study Government agency
Advisory Committee on School-based Management
Curriculum Development Council Education and Manpower Branch and Education Department Education and Manpower Bureau
Transforming schools into dynamic and accountable professional learning communities: School-based management consultation document Learning to learn: The way forward in curriculum development The school management initiative: Setting the framework for quality in Hong Kong schools Teacher performance management Action for the future: Career-oriented studies and the new senior secondary academic structure for special schools Performance indicators for Hong Kong schools 2008: With evidence of performance for secondary, primary, and special schools The school development and accountability framework: The next phase of continuous school improvement Recommendations on career guidance for secondary schools under the new academic structure Education Commission report no. 1 Education Commission report no. 2 Education Commission report no. 3: The structure of tertiary education and the future of private schools Education Commission report no. 4: The curriculum and behavioral problems in schools Education Commission report no. 5: The teaching profession School education in Hong Kong: A statement of aims Education Commission report no. 6: Enhancing language proficiency: A comprehensive strategy Education Commission report no. 7: Quality school education Learning for Life, Learning through Life: Reform Proposals for the Education System in Hong Kong
1991 2003 2006
2011 Education Commission
1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1992 1996 1997 2000
14 Introduction Table 1.3 (Continued) Government agency
General guidelines on moral education in schools Guidelines on civic education in schools Guidance work in secondary schools – a suggested guide for principals and teachers Guidelines on sex education in secondary schools Guidelines on civic education in schools Guidelines on extra-curricular activities in schools Guidelines on sex education in schools School administration guide Performance indicators for Hong Kong schools Performance indicators for Hong Kong schools: Evidence of performance The Hong Kong education system: Overall review of the Hong Kong education system A perspective on education in Hong Kong: Report
1985 1986 1986 1996 1997 1997 2001 2002 2002 Hong Kong Government Secretariat
Table 1.4 Sources of news clippings 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
Apple Daily Hong Kong Economic Times Metropolis Daily Ming Pao Oriental Daily PUT News Sing Pao Sing Tao Jih Pao South China Morning Post Ta Kung Pao The Standard The Sun Wah Kiu Yat Pao Wen Wei Pao
in the database. In order to make sure the results were about Hong Kong education, I limited the research only to the news clippings produced by newspapers of the Hong Kong region. Then, I downloaded and read the news and saved those relevant to my research. However, a limitation of WiseNews was that it
Introduction 15 only contained news from 1998. In order to find the news before 1998, Hong Kong Newspaper Clippings Contents, published by the Hong Kong Catholic Social Communications Office, was used. This publication collected many Hong Kong news clippings before 2000. It categorized all the news. By using the same keywords mentioned above, I searched news by reading the titles listed in the category of education. Then, I borrowed the microfilm clippings of the news from the library and read the news on a library computer. I scanned the relevant news and saved them in my hard disk. At the end, I collected a total of 832 news clippings. These news clippings were produced by the newspapers listed in Table 1.4.
Data analysis I used NVivo7 to assist my data analysis. I imported all the interview transcripts, school documents, education policy documents, and news clippings to the software. Then, I started open coding followed by focus coding to identify themes. During the coding process, I employed the constant comparative method in order to improve the credibility of theme development (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). By using this method, I compared incidents in data with other incidents, incidents with themes, and themes with other themes while coding and recording data into themes in order to look for supporting and contrary evidence with regards to the meaning of themes (Creswell, 2012). The coding process went back and forth. For example, I developed a theme called teachers’ workload, but I later found that the theme could be divided into two sub-themes by the constant comparative method, including instructional work and non-instructional work. I then further noted that the incidents in the sub-theme of instructional work could be recoded into three separated sub-themes, including teaching-related work, educational but non-teaching work, and instructional vs. non-instructional work. Nevertheless, by comparing the sub-themes of teaching-related work and educational but nonteaching work, I found that both types of work were similar and almost the same, so I recoded these two sub-themes into one sub-theme called instructional work again. I stopped the coding process when no additional themes were identified. In addition to identifying the themes and sub-themes, I also explored the pattern of values and goals of teaching, teachers’ workload, and teachers’ emotional experiences in teaching, school administrative practices among the informants. To do this, I created a profile for each informant by using NVivo7. The profile contained all the information listed in Table 1.1. Then, I compared the similarities and differences between the narratives of the informants with different teaching experiences, ages, contract types, subjects, and school types on the values and goals of teaching, teachers’ workload, teachers’ emotional experiences, and school administrative practices by running matrix coding with NVivo7 (Edhlund, 2007).
Credibility I used different approaches to enhance the credibility of the research. For example, as mentioned above, I used different data sources to triangulate the findings
16 Introduction (Denzin, 1978). Furthermore, I employed the cross-checking technique during interviews in attempts to improve the credibility of the interview data (I. Seidman, 2006). In data analysis, I tried to enhance the credibility of theme development by adopting the constant comparative method (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). In addition to these attempts, I employed the technique of member checking, which is a means to improve the credibility of data analysis (Mero-Jaffe, 2011). When I finished a small part of the analysis, I sent the informants a full analysis and a summary by email. In the email, I invited the informants to read at least the summary, if not the full analysis, and asked them to tell me to what extent the analysis reflected their experiences. In addition, I also invited them to check the accuracy of their narratives cited in the full analysis. Throughout the period of data analysis, I received feedback from two informants. One agreed with my analyses and transcription. Another only endorsed the transcription but did not comment on the analysis. Moreover, I also communicated with other Hong Kong secondary schoolteachers who did not particulate in this research about my findings and analyses formally and informally in order to improve the quality of the data analysis (Smaling, 2003). I formally presented my findings twice during the period of data analysis. One was a meeting between my supervisor and other doctoral students in my faculty. In this meeting, one of my fellow students was a secondary schoolteacher who had over 15 years of teaching experiences. After my presentation, she said what I presented was very similar to her condition and experience in teaching. Another formal presentation was conducted in a conference. One audience member in the conference was a secondary schoolteacher a year ago. He said he had taught for two years. He also thought my findings and analysis matched his teaching experience and condition in the past. In addition to the formal presentation, I often informally talked to my friends who were teaching in secondary schools about my findings during gatherings. Generally, they thought my analyses truly reflected their situations.
Researcher reflexivity There are a few things that need to be clarified here. First, since the informants were selected by snowball sampling, it was possible that the teachers interviewed in this study shared some similar characteristics. For example, the informants who felt unhappy at work may refer other unhappy teachers to participate in the study. Moreover, the data collection period (February to June 2012) was a busy period for secondary schoolteachers in Hong Kong. The academic year of 2011–2012 was a transitional period of NSS reform. During this period, the last public examination class of 3–2–2–3 curriculum and the first public examination class of 3–3–4 curriculum co-existed in secondary schools. Teachers were busy preparing both classes of students for different public examinations organized between March and May 2012. Moreover, many schools arranged the final internal examination in June, so teachers were stressed in preparing for school examination papers at the same period of time. In addition, some schools might do
Introduction 17 teacher appraisal in February and March, so the teachers might also spend much time and energy on preparing the appraisal. Therefore, the informants might be very busy, exhausted, and stressed out during the period of data collection. This condition might make them express more complaints and negative feelings toward their work in interviews. In order to overcome the mentioned problems, I encouraged the informants to talk about something that made them feel happy and satisfied if they were engaged in an overwhelming rant filled with negative feelings and experiences about their work. Second, most of the informants in this study were my friends or ex-colleagues. Therefore, it was easy for me to develop relatively close and trustful relationships with the informants. Such a relationship might make the informants feel comfortable to disclose themselves, including their negative experiences at work, to me during interviews. For example, one informant told me that sometimes she destroyed students’ assignments when she did not have enough time to mark them. If her students asked her to return the assignments, she denied she gave them the assignments. To some extent, thus, the relationship may be an advantage for this study to get trustworthy data.
Organization of the book In Chapter 2, I will review the sociological perspectives on teachers’ emotional experiences in more detail. You may skip Chapter 2 if you would like to go into the research findings immediately. However, I encourage you to spend a couple of minutes on the chapter, since you will learn different perspectives of teachers’ emotional experiences and the roots of the theoretical framework of the present study. In Chapter 3, I am going to investigate what values and goals of teaching the Hong Kong teachers may hold. The findings suggest that the major value and goal of teaching among the teachers is making a difference in students’ lives. The findings show that the teachers would like to make a difference in students’ lives through their effort in teaching, but there were different kinds of social constraints upon their agency to attain the value and goal. They described their vulnerability to attain the value and goal of teaching as caam2, which was the term used by the Hong Kong teachers to express a wide variety of negative emotions in teaching. The emotional experiences of caam2, as Chapter 4 will show, may be related to heavy workload, the interpretation of the workload, and the power and status of teachers in a school. The findings show that the emotional experiences of caam2 in teaching may be differentiated between teachers in different career stages. In Chapter 5, I will show how caam2 may be aroused by school administrative systems. In particular, the findings indicate that caam2 may be aroused by the school administrative practices of strict mode of supervision, close mode of communication, and mistrust and indifference. Chapter 6 will investigate how caam2 in teaching may be related to structural education reforms since the 1980s in Hong Kong. After studying the patterns of emotional experiences of caam2 in teaching, Chapter 7 will suggest that teachers in Hong Kong do not only have negative emotional experiences in teaching, but also have positive
18 Introduction emotional experiences. Their positive emotional experiences to some extent were related to positive student-related matters, including gratifying graduation, students’ appreciations, positive changes in behavior and attitude, learning progress, positive teacher-student relationships. The findings imply that these positive student-related matters may be the symbols of success in making a difference in students’ lives. Thus, when teachers encounter them, they will feel positive. All these findings seem to suggest that teachers in Hong Kong are disempowered moral agents. It means that the teachers are morally committed to cultivate and nurture students, but their moral agency is technically and cognitively disempowered by different social constraints. A more detailed discussion of this concept and its implications will be presented in Chapter 8.
2 Sociological perspectives of teachers’ emotional experiences Sociological perspectivesSociological perspectives
As influenced by the sociological conceptions of emotions, education researchers have investigated how teachers’ emotions are socially constructed and have developed different perspectives to understand teachers’ emotional experiences. The perspectives can be summarized as the labor process perspective, school administration perspective, emotional labor perspective, social interaction perspective, and teacher identity perspective. This chapter will identify concerns and arguments of the perspectives and attempt to synthesize them in order to propose a theoretical framework to study teachers’ emotional experiences in teaching.
Labor process perspective The labor process perspective is a traditional perspective of teachers’ emotions in the literature, although its major concern originally is not about teachers’ emotions (Tsang, 2015). Since the 1980s, the sociologists of teaching have criticized education reforms all over the world for its tendency to transform the labor process of teachers in such a way that they resemble those of industrial workers, resulting in poor working conditions and lives for teachers, such as heavy workload and the lack of leisure time (Apple, 1982, 1986; K. Harris, 1982; Robertson, 2000; Smyth, Dow, Hattam, Reid, & Shacklock, 2000). In order to improve the situation, the sociologists of teaching have investigated how education reforms transform the labor process in teaching. Although the labor process perspective does not directly deal with teachers’ emotions, it provides an insightful framework to study how teachers’ emotional experiences are affected by education reforms (Tsang, 2015). The labor process perspective is originated from Braverman’s seminal work, Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century, which is inspired by Marx’s analysis of labor process that explains how workers are alienated from labor under capitalism. In the seminal work, Braverman (1974) analyzes that the worker’s alienation is related to scientific and bureaucratic management in modern capitalist societies. He argues that workers tend to feel estranged and alienated from their labor because the scientific and bureaucratic management deskills workers’ labor power resulting in the lack of power to exercise control over their labor process through the division and sub-division of
20 Sociological perspectives labor and the separation of conception from execution. His analysis has been supported by other sociological studies. For example, Derber (1983) observes that the labor power of many professionals is threatened by scientific and bureaucratic management in a modern capitalist society. Lacking labor power, the status and working conditions of the professionals become proletarianized, i.e., a process that the status of professionals becomes similar to the status of industrial workers (Derber, 1983). Education researchers suggest that the labor process perspective can help us explore the working condition and mentality of the teaching profession (Smyth et al., 2000). According to them, proletarianization of the teaching profession can be divided into two sub-processes (Smyth et al., 2000). The first is deskilling. It is the process of devaluing and degrading teachers’ work, which in turn results in teachers being unable to define and design what they do in teaching. The researchers argue that education reforms contribute to this process. First, education reforms generally involve a curricular reform that may standardize the teaching and learning process in every classroom (Smyth et al., 2000). For example, a state may implement a national curriculum that defines what subject knowledge teachers should teach and how students should be assessed. In order to make sure that teachers follow the curricular requirements, the state may provide prepackaged curricular materials, such as textbooks, to every teacher. Apple (1982) and Harris (1982) find that prepackaged curricular materials include not only teaching contents and materials but also teaching plans. Therefore, teachers can simply teach lessons by using the prepackaged curricular materials without having to expend any effort to design and plan their lessons. Moreover, Connell (1995) notes that education reforms may aim to enhance the status of public examinations. Consequently, teachers may need to follow the teaching progress stated by the national curriculum and syllabus strictly so as to ensure that their students can pass high-stakes public examinations (Ball, 1994). In this situation, teachers need to teach students how to pass the examinations rather than take care of students’ whole-personal development (Anagnostopoulos, 2003; Comber & Nixon, 2009). As a result, teachers may become more dependent on prepackaged curricular materials in order to avoid the risk of student failure in examinations (Smyth et al., 2000). In this sense, teachers become powerless to control what and how to teach in the classroom. The second force of deskilling is related to managerialism, which has influenced a lot of education reforms across the globe (Mok & Welch, 2002). Managerialism introduces market logics for the operation of public schooling. For example, many education reforms emphasize concepts such as quality, accountability, competition, efficiency, clients, and quality assurance (Tse, 2005). A notable outcome of this kind of reform is that teachers are subject to more and more supervision and monitoring from external bodies like the government and the community. Although this kind of reform tends to transfer responsibility for educational problems to individual schools and teachers, the government may be concerned that schools and teachers may perform poorly, so it attempts to make schools and teachers more accountable through external evaluations and inspections (Ball, 1994). One notable example is Hong Kong. Since the late 1990s, the
Sociological perspectives 21 Hong Kong government has intensified its inspection and supervision of schools and teachers by implementing several initiatives such as School Self Evaluation (SSE) and the External School Review (ESR) in 2003, the Quality Assurance Inspection (QAI) in 1997, and Language Benchmarks Tests for teachers in 2000 (Tse, 2005). Managerialist reforms may also create a quasi-market in education through initiatives such as school choice and accountability to stakeholders (Whitty, 2002). In this quasi-market, schools and teachers become service producers, who have to adjust their work to satisfy and meet the demands and expectations of their clients – students and parents (Smyth et al., 2000). To some extent, managerialist education reforms tend to disempower teachers to control their labor process by putting them into a subordinate position with respect to the government, the community, and parents. As teachers become deskilled, it becomes difficult for them to reject the extra work and duties imposed upon them (Apple, 1986). Thus, the education researchers have claimed that intensification of work is inevitable for the teaching profession (Apple, 1986; Hargreaves, 1994; Smyth et al., 2000). For example, a study conducted by OECD (2005) reports that teachers in the OECD countries are required to take on many responsibilities in addition to classroom teaching, such as guidance and discipline, organization of extracurricular activities, preparation of school-based teaching and learning materials, management of the school’s public image, documentation, and writing reports for school internal and external inspection, and other administrative duties. As a result of so many duties and responsibilities, teachers face work overload, lack of leisure time, and feel stressed, and burn out (Dworkin, 2002; K. Harris, 1994; Jeffrey & Woods, 1996). Moreover, studies further suggest that the intensification of work causes teachers to experience certain negative emotions, such as frustration, shame, and guilt, because they perceive that they are forced to do many things (e.g., school promotion, report writing, and documentation) that they consider irrelevant to education or have no educational value (Farouk, 2012; Kelchtermans, 1996; Nias, 1999; Santoro, 2011; Saunders, 2013; Woods, 1999). The education researchers suggest that education reforms may proletarianize teachers through deskilling and the intensification of work. Deskilling results in teacher disempowerment to control their labor process in teaching and then the intensification of work may occur. The intensification of work leads to poor working conditions for teachers, such as heavy workload and lack of leisure time, so teachers may become vulnerable to stress and burnout in teaching. Moreover, the researchers further deliberate that deskilling and the intensification of work together tend to force teachers to do a lot of work and duties that they disvalue in teaching. In the situation, the teachers may experience a range of negative emotions. Nevertheless, the labor process perspective tends to assume teachers as a homogeneous group, so it is assumed that all teachers feel similarly during education reforms. However, this assumption may be inaccurate. Teachers can be categorized into different groups in terms of genders, subjects, ages, and teaching experiences. Different groups of teachers may have different concerns in teaching (Lortie, 1975). The concerns may influence the teachers’ interpretations of the education reforms and thus their feelings toward the reforms (Hargreaves, 2005).
22 Sociological perspectives In other words, education reforms may not necessarily lead to teachers’ negative emotional experiences. Some groups of teachers may feel positive toward the reforms because they may think the reforms address their concerns so that they interpret the reforms positively (Choi & Tang, 2009; Hargreaves, 2005; Lortie, 1975). In this sense, the effects of education reforms to teachers’ emotions may be mediated and/or moderated by teacher reflexivity, but the labor process perspective may not take it into account (Tsang, 2015).
School administration perspective Another perspective is concerned with school administration. To some extent, this perspective argues the school administrative system relates to teachers’ emotional experiences (Leithwood & Beatty, 2008). The literature indicates that teachers should feel positive, or at least less negative, in teaching if a school administrative system tends to be democratic (Dworkin, Saha, & Hill, 2003), distributive (Gronn, 2002), caring (B. Harris, 2007), or transformational (Leithwood & Beatty, 2008). This is because such as a system tends to support and empower teachers in teaching. However, education researchers point out that managerialist education reforms are inclined to bureaucratize school administrative systems (Mok & Welch, 2002) and school bureaucracy may disempower teachers and thus make teachers feel negative in teaching (Ingersoll, 2003). In other words, the perspective explains that teachers’ negative emotions should be directly caused by school bureaucracy rather than education reforms. Bureaucracy has been described as a rational and impersonal administrative system that emphasizes the division of labor and specialization, hierarchy and centralization of power and authority, enforcement of formal rules and regulations, and goal consensus (Scott, 1998). The literature has suggested that these characteristics tend to bring negative outcomes to employees’ spirits and mentalities because of the neglect of employees’ desires and interests (Fox, 1971). The reason is that bureaucracy tends to break a work process into minute segments and centralize the decision-making power in the top of hierarchy (Collins, 1975). Thus, employees can only be responsible for a piece of work without any understanding of and control over the goals of the work defined by the organization. The separation of conception from execution may be a problem for professionals like teachers, because the administrative goals may be contradictory to the goals of the professionals (Derber, 1983). However, since they are employed by bureaucracy, their goals always are subordinate to the administrative goals. As Merton (1968) illustrated, they may ultimately experience a series of frustration at work, because they may be forced to do some things that they disvalued but they could not reject to do. Researchers have identified different types of school bureaucracy (Hoy & Miskel, 2012), which may have different impacts on teachers’ emotional experiences. For example, Hoy and Miskel (2012) illustrate that school administrative systems consist of a bureaucratic pattern and a professional pattern. The bureaucratic pattern focuses on the coordination of school administrative work while the professional pattern focuses on the technical and instructional work of a school. The
Sociological perspectives 23 variation of the combinations of the two patterns forms different bureaucratic systems of a school. If the bureaucratic pattern is high and the professional pattern is low, authoritarian bureaucracy occurs. Authoritarian bureaucracy is similar to the traditional image of bureaucracy described above, i.e., bureaucratic authority is emphasized, power is centralized, rules and procedures are impersonally applied, teachers’ interests and purposes are subordinate to administrative ones. Accordingly, this type of administrative system may relate to teachers’ negative emotions, as described above. Chaotic systems of school bureaucracy occur when both bureaucratic and professional patterns are low. In the chaotic system, teachers enjoy high autonomy in schools because there is little bureaucratic control over them. However, it does not mean the teachers will be happy. This is because the school may be full of inconsistency, contradiction, confusion, and conflict in day-to-day operations caused by the lack of effective means of bureaucratic and professional patterns of administration (Hoy & Miskel, 2012). The inconsistency, contradiction, confusion, and conflict may make it hard for teachers to fulfill their professional aspirations so that they may feel negative even though they may have a high degree of autonomy (Hargreaves, 2002). On the other hand, a professional system of school bureaucracy is another type of school administration. This type of school bureaucracy occurs when the bureaucratic pattern is low and the professional pattern is high. It does not mean this type of administrative structure lacks bureaucratic means to coordinate and manage teachers’ work. Instead, it tends to establish bureaucratic mechanisms to support teachers to exercise their expertise and competence in teaching in order to maximize the quality education (Hoy & Miskel, 2012). Leithwood and Beatty’s (2008) study implies that this kind of school administration may relate to positive emotions of teachers because this kind of administration tends to support teachers to achieve their professional interests, which are related to fostering students’ whole-personal growth. However, as similar to the labor process perspective, the school administration perspective tends to overlook teacher reflexivity. To some extent, the perspective tends to treat school administrative systems as objective entities which can be “diagnosed” and “cured”. Therefore, the researchers may list some of the desirable characteristics of school administrative systems for school improvement (e.g., Cheng, 2005). Nevertheless, the desirable characteristics defined by the researchers may not be necessarily perceived as desirable by teachers. That means if the teachers perceive that the so-called desirable characteristics of school administrative systems make it difficult for them to focus on teaching, the teachers may still feel negative toward the system (Tsang & Liu, 2016). In this sense, teachers’ emotions may not just be objectively affected by the school administrative system, but also by their interpretations of the system.
Emotional labor perspective The emotional labor perspective is a prevalent perspective of teachers’ emotions in the literature. To some extent, this perspective aims to explore the nature of teaching and its impact on teachers’ psychological and emotional well-being. It is
24 Sociological perspectives inspired by The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling, a seminal work of Hochschild (1983). According to Hochschild (1979), emotions are conditioned by emotional culture which consists of feeling and expression rules specifying how social actors should feel and display feelings in social situations. For example, feeling and expression rules specify that social actors should be sad and should not smile at funerals, but that social actors should be happy and should not cry at weddings (Denzin, 1984). If social actors cannot adjust their feelings and displays according to feeling and expression rules, they will be perceived as emotional deviants by others (Thoits, 1990). To avoid becoming emotional deviants, social actors need to manage their emotions and displays appropriately. Hochschild (1979) refers to emotion management as emotion work and identifies two strategies of emotion work: surface acting and deep acting. Surface acting involves modifying one’s emotional display in accordance with what is expected in a particular situation regardless of one’s actual feelings, whereas deep acting involves trying to change one’s feelings to match the appropriate emotional display. Emotion work is a normal act occurring in private lives. However, Hochschild (1983) observes that emotion management is not only an act occurring in one’s private life, but also the work done for a wage in post-industrial societies. She finds that more and more enterprises, especially service-related, sell employees’ emotional activities for profit making. In such a situation, employees are no longer able to exercise control over their feelings and displays. For example, Hochschild (1983) illustrates how flight attendants are required by their employers to keep smiling and show warmth toward consumers because smiling and warmth are the selling points of airlines. Other studies have also had similar findings among other frontline service workers (e.g., waitresses and insurance salespersons), caregiving workers (e.g., retail clerks and child care workers), professionals (e.g., physicians and lawyers), and public service workers (e.g., social workers and corrections officials) (Wharton, 2009). In other words, many people in post-industrial societies have to manage their emotions under supervision. Hochschild (1983) refers to this kind of act as emotional labor: emotion management done for a wage. One possible consequence of emotional labor is emotional dissonance, which is the separation of feelings from displays (Hochschild, 1983). The higher the degree of emotional dissonance, the higher the degree of dehumanization, self-alienation, depersonalization, depression, and burnout (e.g., Diefendorff, Richard, & Yang, 2008; Lewig & Dollard, 2003). In general, the literature suggests that it is more likely that workers who are required to engage in face-to-face interactions with the public with love and care perform emotional labor (Wharton, 2009). Accordingly, education researchers have argued that teachers are required to perform emotional labor because they need to interact face-to-face with students with love and care (Hargreaves, 1998; Isenbarger & Zembylas, 2006; Winograd, 2003; Zembylas, 2002b). On the basis of the perspective, the first task for education researchers is to illustrate how teachers lose their control over their emotions in teaching. Tsang (2011) points out that while there may not be explicit supervision over teachers’ emotions in
Sociological perspectives 25 teaching, teachers’ emotions are prescribed by different feeling and expression rules of teaching. According to Zembylas (2005b), the general rule requires teachers to avoid expressing too strong and too weak emotions. More specifically, Winograd (2003) reveals five feeling and expression rules for teachers: 1 2 3 4 5
To love and to show enthusiasm for students; To be enthusiastic and passionate about subject matter; To avoid the display of extreme emotions like anger, joy, and sadness; To love their work; and To have a sense of humor and laugh at their own mistakes and the peccadilloes of students.
The rules may also be related to teacher professionalism. This means that if teachers do not manage their emotions appropriately according to the rules, they will be treated as unprofessional (Zembylas, 2005b). Consequently, teachers have to perform emotional labor. Basically, this argument is accepted by most education researchers. Since they agree that teachers need to perform emotional labor, they investigate the outcomes of the emotional labor in teaching with respect to teachers’ psychological well-being and mentality. In the literature, emotional labor is regarded as alienating (Scott, 1998). In other words, emotional labor creates emotional dissonance resulting in job stress, emotional exhaustion, burnout, or other negative outcomes. Empirically studies provide support for this proposition. For example, the studies conducted by Hülsheger, Lang, and Maier (2010), Keller, Chang, Becker, Goetz, and Frenzel (2014), Iltaf and Gulzar (2013), and Näring, Briët, and Brouwers (2006) show that emotional labor may lead to teacher stress, exhaustion, burnout, the sense of depersonalization, and turnover. In addition, the ethnographic studies conducted by Zembylas (2002a, 2003a, 2004, 2005a, 2005b) show similar findings. These studies demonstrate that emotional labor in teaching may result in teachers’ feelings of frustration, guilt, and shame, which in turn damage teachers’ identity, confidence, and self-esteem. For example, a teacher may dislike or even hate a student whose academic performance is bad or whose misconduct is serious. However, the teacher needs not only to suppress his or her negative emotions, but also to show love and care to the students because of the feeling rules. The suppression of negative emotions may create further negative emotions for teachers, such as guilt, regret, and shame, because they may think that it is inappropriate or even immoral for them as teachers to dislike or hate students (O’Connor, 2008). In addition, teachers may also feel emotionally uncomfortable or self-estranged, because their displayed emotions do not correspond to their true feelings (Philipp & Schüpbach, 2010). Both conditions may affect their professional identity and self-esteem, which in turn creates other intense negative emotions like frustration and depression (Hargreaves, 1998; O’Connor, 2008). Accordingly, the emotional labor perspective highlights the nature of teaching as an interactive work with love and care that involves emotional culture consisting of feeling and expression rules. The emotional culture guides teachers to
26 Sociological perspectives manage their feelings and displays in teaching. Consequently, teachers’ emotions may be alienated from the teachers leading to the experience of emotional dissonance which results in negative emotional experiences. Although the perspective acknowledges that teachers can construct their emotional experiences by emotion management, it does not mean that the research recognizes the effects of agency to the construction of teachers’ emotions. This is because the perspective tends to regard emotion management as a normative behavior: emotion management is a behavior prescribed by and reacting to the emotional culture. On the other hand, researchers recently note that emotion management is a reflexive action rather than a normative behavior. That means teachers may manage their emotions in classrooms because they perceive emotion management is a necessary strategy in teaching (Oplatka, 2007). In other words, emotion management should be a voluntary act rather a forced labor (Oplatka, 2007). For instance, Gong, Chai, Duan, Zhong, and Jiao (2013) indicate that Chinese teachers may purposively regulate their emotions in the classroom in order to achieve instructional goals, confirm professional and ethical norms, keep positive images, and nurture good teacher-student relationships. Yuu (2010) finds that Japanese teachers may choose to display anger to students, even though they are not angry, because they think such emotion management is an effective means to control students and help them concentrate on learning. Oplatka’s (2007) study on Israeli teachers’ emotions also suggests that teachers may unconditionally express and show their love and care to students because the emotional displays are meaningful and valuable for them in developing relationships with students and in fostering students’ growth. Since teachers may perceive emotion management as a meaningful and valuable act in teaching, a successful emotion management in teaching may lead to teachers’ positive emotions, such as satisfaction and self-fulfillment, instead of negative emotions (Hebson, Earnshaw, & Marchington, 2007; O’Connor, 2008; Yin, 2016; Yuu, 2010). In other words, the assumption that emotion management in teaching is a forced and alienated labor may be inaccurate (Hebson et al., 2007). In addition, Tsang (2011) notes that much research on emotional labor in teaching may misunderstand the concept of emotional labor. Although the research is based on Hochschild’s work, the research ignores the central characteristic of Hochschild’s conception of emotional labor: “emotions ‘preformed’ by employees [are] exploited for profit as a vital part of the capitalist labor process” (Hebson et al., 2007, p. 681). This implies that emotion management is emotional labor only if “emotional control represents a condition of employment for an institution or company” (Yuu, 2010, p. 64). In this sense, the previous research has only demonstrated the effects of prescriptive emotion management of teaching rather than emotional labor of teaching, because the research has not successfully indicated how teachers’ emotions are constrained by the schools or school administrators, in addition to the emotional rules (Hebson et al., 2007). Some researchers may disagree with the viewpoint, because they think that emotional labor has use-value, that is the labor of love (Hargreaves, 1998). However, it is argued that this understanding of emotional labor is still a misconception
Sociological perspectives 27 (Tsang, 2011). Actually, Hochschild (1983) clearly distinguishes emotional labor from emotion work. The former is the exchange value of emotion management, while the latter is the use-value. She states: “emotional labor is sold for a wage and therefore has exchange value . . . emotion work . . . refer[s] to these same acts in a private context where they have use value” (Hochschild, 1983, p. 7). In this sense, the researchers who argue the emotional labor in teaching is the practice of love may confuse the two concepts, i.e., using the concept of emotional labor to describe the concept of emotion work. In fact, it is difficult operationally to separate emotional labor and emotion work in teaching. As Oplatka (2007) demonstrates, the emotion management of teaching may happen in both the public life (e.g., emotion management in classroom teaching for a wage) and the private life (e.g., emotion management in the friendship between teachers and students outside the classroom) of teachers. Since teachers may build friendships with students, for example, the distinction between public life and private life in teaching may become blurred. Thus, Tsang (2011, pp. 1314–1315) states: Teacher emotions may be governed not only by emotional rule of teaching, but also by more general emotional rules in private life, such as, for example: “we should love and care [for] our friends”, “we should be nice to our friends”, “we should not hate our friends” and the like. Therefore, it is difficult for researchers to judge whether it is emotion work or emotional labor, for instance, when teachers say they try to manage their expression of anger and show care to students.
Social interaction perspective The social interaction perspective, or generally referred to as interactionism, regards emotional experiences as existing and being produced in social relationships (Burkitt, 1997). This perspective has influenced a lot of research on teachers’ emotions since the mid-1990s (Tsang, 2015), because different initiatives of educational changes, such as marketization and decentralization of education, fundamentally altered the social relationships of teachers to students, parents, colleagues, and school administrators at this period of time (Blase, 2005) and the altered social relationships have been perceived as one of the causes of teachers’ negative emotions (Hargreaves, 2001a). One of the influential theorists, perhaps the most important one, in this line of thought should be Andy Hargreaves (Evans, 2011). To Hargreaves (2001a), teachers’ emotions are shaped by social interactions in school settings and in turn produce and reproduce the social interactions. In order to understand this process of teachers’ emotions, he develops a framework based on Denzin’s (1984) interactionist theory of emotions. According to this theory, teaching is regarded as an emotional practice because teaching will activate, color, and express not only teachers’ feelings and actions, but also the feelings and actions of those with whom teachers interact (Hargreaves, 1998). As an emotional practice, teaching requires extensive degrees of emotional understanding,
28 Sociological perspectives which is the capacity to interpret and comprehend subjectively other social actors’ emotions from one’s own standpoint (Denzin, 1984). Without emotional understanding, mistrust and conflicts may permeate social relations between teachers and other school members, and in turn arouse negative emotions in them, which then affect social interactions. In order to facilitate social interactions, it is important to enhance emotional understanding between the interacting social actors (Denzin, 1984). To enhance emotional understanding, Hargreaves proposes the concept of emotional geographies of teaching, which refers to “the spatial and experiential patterns of closeness and/or distance in human interactions and relationships” (Hargreaves, 2001c, p. 1061). The emotional geographies of teaching include five dimensions: Sociocultural geography: the similarities and differences in cultural and social backgrounds between teachers and those with whom they interact; 2 Moral geography: the degree to which teachers’ purposes are supported or appreciated by others; 3 Professional geography: the degree to which teachers hold the norms of professional interaction that prescribe coolness, reserve and emotional distance among interactants; 4 Political geography: the differences in power and status between teachers and those with whom they interact; 5 Physical geography: the frequency, intensity and formalization of interactions of teachers with others. 1
Hargreaves notes that varying the degree of each dimension will influence the overall pattern of closeness/distance in social interactions and in turn emotional understanding. With respect to teacher-student interaction, Hargreaves (2000) finds that the elementary teachers tend to possess professional warmth and interact frequently with students. This practice may enhance the physical and professional closeness between teachers and students, and this closeness, to some extent, is the basis for the development of emotional understanding between teachers and students. On the other hand, Hargreaves also argues that the unequal social position between these two groups of social actors (i.e., teachers are dominant and students are dominated in the classroom) may create conflicts between them (political distance). This conflict may prevent them from developing shared emotional goals and emotional bonds, so emotional misunderstanding may occur among them (Hargreaves, 2000). However, Hargreaves (2000) thinks that this political distance can be minimized if teachers and students can have more activities outside the core process of teaching and learning in the classroom. This is because such activities make possible shared positive emotional experiences for both teachers and students, such as exhilaration and enjoyment. Regarding teacher-parent interaction, Hargreaves (2001c) shows that teachers and parents are emotionally distant. This emotional distance is to some extent the result of (1) the difference in sociocultural backgrounds between teachers and
Sociological perspectives 29 parents (sociocultural distance), and (2) the norm of teacher-parent interaction that prescribes coolness, reserve, and emotional distance (professional distance). Sociocultural and professional distance prevents teachers and parents from developing shared understanding cognitively and emotionally. This may further foster moral distance between them, which means that parents may not understand, support, appreciate, and respect how teachers carry out their classroom teaching. Consequently, teachers may feel that they have lost their professional status and power/authority (political distance). In such a situation, teachers may experience negative feelings such as anger, resignation, depression, and anxiety. In this case, it is possible that they either avoid interactions with parents or display emotions like hostility, anger, and dissatisfaction toward parents. As a result, the conflicts and emotional distance between teachers and parents become deeper, and the emotional understanding between them also becomes weaker (Hargreaves & Lasky, 2004). Hargreaves (2001b, 2002) also finds that teachers tend to value peaceful working environments in which they may receive and enjoy rewards such as more social support and acceptance, so they should try to maintain harmonious relationships and avoid conflicts with colleagues. To achieve this, teachers try to respect or value what their colleagues do in order to shorten moral distance (Hargreaves, 2001b). In addition, they also try not to criticize their colleagues because this act may downplay colleagues’ professional status and power/authority (Hargreaves, 2001b). In other words, they try to maintain political closeness. As a result, emotional understanding and positive social relationships among them may be developed. Hargreaves (2002) points out that if such emotional understanding and relationships cannot be fostered, it is possible for mistrust and betrayal to occur. By using the concept of emotional geographies, Hargreaves illustrates in detail how teachers’ emotions influence and are influenced by social interactions in school settings. From his studies, we learn that teachers’ emotions are determined by the intersubjectivity between teachers, students, parents, and colleagues. The intersubjectivity may be influenced by the sociocultural, moral, professional, political, and physical distance between them. On the other hand, teachers’ emotions may also affect their further social interactions. Nevertheless, his studies overlook the social structural impacts on the social interactions and emotions. To some extent, the quality of social interactions (e.g., harmony or conflict) not only depends on the distances of sociocultural, moral, professional, political, and physical backgrounds between them, but also on the social structure in which the social actors interact. For example, every social setting has preexisting social norms and rules that define and govern the behaviors of different actors in the situation (Goffman, 1959). People with different social backgrounds may have different capabilities to read the rules and norms and behave in expected ways (Bourdieu, 1990). For example, research shows that there were social rules and norms in school settings that required parents to be involved in schooling and education such as encouraging children to learn at home, assisting in school affairs, and joining parent teacher associations, but the upper-class and white parents were more readily able to conform to the rules and norms
30 Sociological perspectives than working-class and black parents in the United States (Lareau, 1987). This is because the upper-class and white parents understood the importance of their involvement in schooling and education to their students’ academic achievement and had more time and knowledge to help children learn at home and join school activities due to their high educational levels, professional occupations, and high incomes. Therefore, their interaction with teachers tended to be happier and more harmonious than working-class parents’ (Lareau, 1987). In other words, the quality of social interactions and emotions between teachers and other social actors may be predetermined by social rules and norms of the settings. However, Hargreaves’s studies tend to overlook this deep-rooted social structural effect.
Teacher identity perspective Teacher identity has been an important issue in the field of education research, because how teachers define themselves may determine their attitudes and behaviors in teaching (Beauchamp & Thomas, 2009). Therefore, education researchers have studied how teacher identity is formed and transformed in an attempt to provide recommendations for teacher professional development (e.g., Fraser, 2011; Rong, 2013). In recent years, researchers have revealed a positive relationship between teacher identity and emotions (e.g., Day, 2011; Zembylas, 2003b). The research findings generally imply that identity verification and falsification may influence teachers’ emotions and the emotions will affect how teachers define themselves in teaching. The dynamic relationship is well documented by the identity perspective proposed by Burke, Stets, and Stryker (e.g., Burke & Stets, 2009; Stryker, 2004; Stryker & Burke, 2000). According to the identity perspective, an identity is a container of self-meanings, i.e., the sets of meanings social actors hold for themselves that define who they are (Burke, 2004). The perspective sees that every social actor has multiple identities. For example, a man can have a teacher identity, a father identity, a peer identity, and the like. All these identities are hierarchically ordered and a particular identity can be more salient than others in a given situation (Stryker, 2008). For instance, the man tends to define himself as a teacher (teacher identity) when he interacts with his students in a classroom, as a father (father identity) when he plays with his son at home, and as a good friend (peer identity) with someone during a friend gathering. The salient identity becomes a reference for a social actor to perceive his/her character and attributes and to control his/her actions (Burke & Stets, 2009). For example, when a teacher identity is more salient than other identities in the classroom, a social actor tends to be committed to work for the interests of student learning and growth (O’Connor, 2008) because these are generally categorized as essential characteristics of teachers (Nias, 1999). In other words, social actors try to verify their salient identity in a given situation by monitoring their actions in that situation based on the salient identity (Burke & Stets, 2009; Stryker, 2004). If their actions verify the identity, positive emotions will arouse; otherwise, negative emotions will be aroused (Burke & Stets, 2009).
Sociological perspectives 31 Moreover, the identity perspective further suggests that emotion is not only the result of identity verification and falsification, but also an important factor shaping behaviors and identities. As Burke and Stets (2009) illustrate, positive emotions may encourage social actors to maintain their actions in a given situation because the positive emotions are the symbols signifying to them that what they are doing is constructive to identity verification; on the other hand, negative emotions may inform social actors that their identity is falsified so they need either to change their identity in the given situation or to change their behaviors in order to re-verify their identity. To some extent, the current studies on teacher identity provide evidence to support the identity perspective. The studies show that teachers tend to define themselves as “kindness and caring” (O’Connor, 2008), “supportive and caring teacher” (Yuan, 2016), “mother of the students” (Yin & Lee, 2012), “warm demander” (Yin, 2016), or something similar in general (Isenbarger & Zembylas, 2006; Yuu, 2010). The teacher identities imply that the teachers define themselves as the persons who devote themselves to students (Connell, 1985; Farouk, 2012; Lortie, 1975; Oplatka, 2007; Saunders, 2013). In order to verify the identities, they may spend a lot of time and energy to facilitate students’ personal growth inside and outside the classrooms however busy they are (Maclure, 1993; O’Connor, 2008). When the teachers perceive they successfully facilitate students’ personal growth, they may interpret the teacher identities as verified resulting in positive emotional experiences (e.g., pride and fulfillment); otherwise, they will feel negative emotions (e.g., guilt and shame) (Day & Qing, 2009; Lasky, 2005; Nias, 1999; Santoro, 2011; Saunders, 2013). The positive emotions may further signify the teachers as “good/competent teachers”, while the negative emotions may further signify them as “bad/incompetent teachers” (Kelchtermans, 1996, 2011; Zembylas, 2003b). The “good/competent teacher” and “bad/incompetent teacher” identities may become an object by which the teachers reflexively interpret and monitor themselves and their actions in teaching and may arouse new emotions to them (Beijaard, Meijer, & Verloop, 2004). In general, the identity perspective has demonstrated that teachers tend to define themselves as the persons who are committed to take care of students’ growth and try their best to verify this kind of teacher identity. If they perceive what they do can verify the identity, they may experience positive emotions that inform them as good/competent teachers and then intensify the positive emotions. On the contrary, if they perceive their effort cannot verify the identity, they may experience negative emotions that signify them as bad/incompetent teachers and then intensify the negative emotions. However, there may be different kinds of social structures constraining the process of identity verification. For example, Day (2011) observes that it is hard for teachers to maintain their teacher identity because the education system forces them to do a lot of things unrelated to education during school reforms. In addition, some existing studies imply that cultures and power structures of schools may also influence how teachers define themselves as teachers and constrain teachers’ power to verify
32 Sociological perspectives their teacher identity (Kelchtermans, 2005). In this sense, the social construction of teachers’ emotional experiences should be more complicated than what the identity perspective illustrates, when the social structures are taken into account.
Value and goal attainment and social constraints From the above review, it is identified that teachers’ emotions may be conditioned by social structures as well as agency. However, most of the researchers may overlook either the effects of social structures or the effects of agency (Tsang, 2015). As the above review implies, researchers may emphasize the structural effects of education reforms, school administration, and emotional cultures to teachers’ emotions rather than teacher agency from the labor process perspective, the school administration perspective, and the emotional labor perspective respectively. On the other hand, the social interaction perspective and teacher identity perspective tend to investigate the agentive effects, such as emotional intersubjectivity and the definition and interpretation of the self, to teachers’ emotions instead of the effects of social structures. Thus, most of the existing research may not provide a framework that can illustrate the dynamic social construction process of teachers’ emotions involving both social structures and agency. In order to overcome this shortcoming in the literature, I attempt to propose a framework by a synthesis of the five perspectives here. After a close examination of the literature, I identify two themes explicitly and implicitly shared by the five perspectives. They are value attainment and social constraints. The former represents teacher agency and the latter reflects social structures.
Value and goal attainment Teachers choose to teach with reasons. The goals refer to what the teachers aspire to obtain and/or achieve in teaching. The reasons to some extent imply the values and goals the teachers would like to attain in teaching (Lortie, 1975). The values and goals of teaching may become a schema by which the teachers define and monitor themselves and situations in teaching. In other words, teachers may reflexively evaluate and monitor themselves in order to attain the values and goals. If they interpret that they can attain the values and goals, they may view themselves as good and/or competent teachers and thus feel positive; otherwise, they may view themselves as bad and/or incompetent teachers and thus feel negative (Frenzel, 2014; Schutz, Hong, Cross, & Osbon, 2006; Sutton, 2005). The relationship between value and goal attainment and teachers’ emotions is also implied by the five perspectives. The labor process perspective and the school administration perspective imply that teachers feel negative because they perceive that they are forced to do a lot of work resulting in limited time and energy to take care of students’ growth, which is perceived as an important value and goal of teaching (Santoro, 2011; Saunders, 2013). The emotional labor perspective reveals that teachers may feel negative about emotion management in teaching if they think emotion management does not help them to achieve their
Sociological perspectives 33 instructional goals in classrooms; otherwise, they may feel positive about emotion management in teaching (Frenzel, 2014). The teacher identity perspective describes that teachers generally define themselves as the persons who are committed to make a difference in students’ lives. Thus, the perspective argues that if teachers perceive they can make a difference in students’ lives, the teachers will feel positive due to identity verification; otherwise, they will feel negative (Beauchamp & Thomas, 2009). The above discussion suggests that making a difference in students’ lives is one of teachers’ values and goals of teaching. In addition to making a difference in students’ lives, teachers may have other values and goals. For instance, some teachers choose to teach because they love working with children, aspire to keep in touch with a subject that they study, and/or hope to get a stable job that can offer them money and social status (Lai, Chan, Ko, & So, 2005; Lam, 2011; Lortie, 1975; OECD, 2005). Research shows that once teachers perceive they can attain these values and goals, it is possible for them to feel positive, or at least have no negative feelings (Dinham & Scott, 2000). Although a teacher can have different values and goals of teaching, some of the values and goals should be more salient than others in theory. The more salient or major value and goal should be more powerful in shaping one’s emotions because the major value and goal represents the more important meanings to the self (Nelissen, Dijker, & de Vries, 2007). Therefore, the first step to understand the social construction of teachers’ emotions is to explore the teachers’ major value and goal of teaching, to investigate whether the teachers perceive they can attain the value and goal, and to see the emotional consequences of the perceived value and goal attainment to teachers and the reasons behind.
Social constraints Teachers are social agents who can reflexively interpret and monitor their actions and situations in teaching in order to attain their value and goal of teaching (Grant & Sleeter, 1985). However, they are not free from constraints of social structures (Hatton, 1987). That means there are different social structures conditioning and constraining the agency or capacity of teachers to attain the goals in teaching (Kelchtermans, 2005). In the present study, I prefer to refer the effects of social structures to teacher agency to social constraints. In the literature, social structure is an umbrella concept representing different objectively existing entireties like institutionalized social relations, social norms, cultures, organizations, institutions, class, stratification, and the like. It is sometimes confusing to say some of the entireties as a social structure. For example, if we take a micro-perspective, social relations and roles can be a social structure because they can formalize or ritualize social interactions. However, if we take a macro-perspective, we may lose our confidence to say social relations and roles as social structures comparing with culture, class, stratification, organization, and other social systems. Thus, the term “social constraint” is used instead of social structure, because the term does not only avoid the confusion
34 Sociological perspectives but also captures the ideas of social structure: “social” means something outside social actors but relating to them and “constraint” means something that conditions and shapes social actors’ minds, perceptions, and actions in social situations. From the literature, some of the social constraints on teacher capability to attain their value and goal of teaching are identified. At a macro-level, education reforms and emotional cultures are identified as the social constraints by the labor process perspective and the emotional labor perspective respectively. At a meso-level, the school administration perspective illustrates that the school administrative system is a significant social constraint affecting teachers’ work and emotions. At the micro-level, social interactions and relationships is a social constraint according to the social interaction perspective. In addition to these, there are other possible social constraints affecting teachers, for example, occupational structure, curriculum, micro-politics, and power relations (Blase, 2005; Connell, 1985; Kelchtermans, 2005). Thus, it is necessary to investigate what and how social constraints matter in the social construction of teachers’ emotions. Accordingly, in the present research I will consider both agentive and structural influences on teachers’ emotions. First, I will focus on what the major value and goal teachers have in teaching and how the value and goal affects teachers’ teaching practices and interpretation of their work. Then, I will also explore what social constraints the teachers encounter on attaining their value and goal of teaching and what is/are the emotional outcomes of the success and failure on the value and goal attainment caused by the social constraints.
3 Values and goals of teaching
Values and goals of teachingValues and goals of teaching
People teach for different values and goals. Some of them may be motivated to become teachers because they see the meaning in working with students and nurturing students’ growth; some people may choose to teach because they want to keep in touch with a subject that they love; and other people may join the teaching profession for extrinsic rewards such as salary, social status, and job security (Dinham & Scott, 2000; Lam, 2011; Lortie, 1975). The informants of this study also expressed similar values and goals of teaching. I categorized these values and goals into two themes, including intrinsic/altruistic and extrinsic values and goals.
Intrinsic/altruistic values and goals Intrinsic/altruistic values and goals refer to seeking for psychic and intangible rewards in teaching (Hargreaves, 1999; Lortie, 1975). In this study, making a difference in students’ lives was the most frequently recurring sub-theme of intrinsic/altruistic values and goals that emerged from the data (see Table 3.1). When the informants were asked why they chose to become teachers, many of them immediately answered that they thought teaching as an occupation would allow them to nurture students’ growth. I think teaching is a meaningful job. I can teach someone to become a nice person spiritually and mentally. I mean I can help children to pursue their goal and dream . . . and, sometimes, I can even foster positive changes on “bad” students. (Crystal) To me, sharing my thought about life and morality with others is a meaningful act. If I could have a chance to interact with some young people when they grow up, I would regard this interaction between lives as an absolutely meaningful act to me. Hence, it makes sense for me to become a teacher. (John)
36 Values and goals of teaching Table 3.1 The values and goals of teaching
Intrinsic/altruistic values and goals Making a difference in students’ lives Enjoying working with youths Keeping in touch with a subject field Extrinsic values and goals Job security Salary
No. of informants
2,878 864 363
56 18 5
14 5 3
The informants may develop the value and goal through their interactions with the teachers who taught them in the past. To some extent, these informants may be already committed to the value and goal when they started their teaching career. For instance, Peter said that he aspired to help students overcome their difficulties and nurture their growth, so he chose to teach because of a secondary schoolteacher who was enthusiastic in teaching him in the past. There’s a secondary school teacher who influenced me a lot . . . He had a genuine heart in teaching. He insisted on teaching the class even when his voice was hoarse . . . We had no idea why he had to come back to bear such hardship and suffering with us. In a way, he had exchanged his voice . . . for our growth. I think what he did . . . was quite a big . . . if I may say so, implanted a thought into my being. (Peter) In addition to making a difference in students’ lives, working with youths was identified as a sub-theme of intrinsic/altruistic values and goals. Some of the informants mentioned that they chose to join the teaching profession because they wanted to work with youths. Being a teacher is one of the most suitable careers for me because I love . . . indeed I love talking with kids. Being a teacher can satisfy . . . hmm . . . my aspiration to communicate with kids. That’s why I would consider entering this industry. (Amy) To some informants, keeping in touch with a subject field was also an intrinsic/ altruistic value and goal of teaching, because they would like to do a job related to the subject they studied and loved. I was an Arts student graduated from the Department of Chinese. My teacher back then once told me that “if I had to choose a subject to major in, I have to choose my favorite one”. That’s why I picked the University of
Values and goals of teaching 37 Chinese. After I graduated, what kind of job could this background lead me to and what could I work? Haha . . . being a teacher is the way to go! Yes, therefore I would like to enter this industry. (Emma)
Extrinsic values and goals In addition to the intrinsic/altruistic values and goals, the informants had certain kinds of extrinsic values and goals of teaching. That means they may aspire to receive tangible rewards from teaching. From the data, job security and salary emerged as two sub-themes of extrinsic values and goals. I found that the informants who had 9–12 years of teaching experience tended to emphasize more these two extrinsic values and goals at the beginning of their teaching career. The reason might be related to the Hong Kong economic environment that the informants faced when they graduated. In general, these informants gradated during 2000–2003, which was a period of economic depression in Hong Kong. At that time, the unemployment rate was high, around 6.9–8.6% (Hong Kong Economy, 2012). Thus, it was hard for them to find jobs when they graduated. Although some of them could find a job, they did not enjoy doing it because of a low salary or stressful and unstable working conditions. To them, teaching might be a good choice because teaching comparatively was a highpaying job with stable working conditions in Hong Kong. Moreover, there was a great opportunity for them to enter into the teaching profession at the time, because the Hong Kong government provided the Capacity Enhancement Grant to schools to employ temporary teaching staff, such as teaching assistants (TA), to relieve regular teachers from the heavy workload (Education Bureau, 2012). Hence, they may be extrinsically motivated to teach. The following quotations may help to illustrate this point. Due to the decline of economy, my previous job was unstable and I was uncertain whether to stay longer or not. At this particular time, someone asked me to be a substitute teacher, so I tried to give it a go. Since I was sure the monthly income of a substitute teacher was higher and more stable than that of my previous job, I think I gotta get the teaching job anyway, in order to chase back the income level I deserved. (Jack) This job offers me stable income and social status. I can say this job is considered as “not bad” and “above average”. And of course, I have to figure out how to survive. When I graduated in 2000, Hong Kong was undergoing an economic recession. A job with such income level was seen as a pretty good one. In comparison with the income of many other university graduates, the income of a substitute teacher was fairly good. Thus, I did make a good decision on my career change at that time. (Tom)
38 Values and goals of teaching Actually, I didn’t know why I had become a teacher. It should be my destiny. After all, that year . . . the year I graduated was the worst time of Hong Kong’s economy, ie. 2000. Many of my classmates found it difficult to get a job during the financial crisis . . . I was also sitting home and hunting job. Turning over the papers, I targeted to apply for all the jobs related to social service but skip those teacher positions as I didn’t have the qualification of PGDE. Then I came across a job called teaching assistant, seemingly a new job title at that time. Unexpectedly, I received many job interviews of teaching assistant. In the end, I became a teaching assistant. Later I got my PGDE which let me convert to a teacher and I worked till now. (Isabella)
Value and goal shift Although some teachers may emphasize the extrinsic values and goals at the beginning of their teaching career, they may change their emphasis to the intrinsic/altruistic values and goals, especially making a difference in students’ lives, after a few years of teaching. A possible reason was that from the day-to-day teacher-student interactions they learnt that teaching was a meaningful occupation since it could nurture students’ growth. For example, David had taught for 40 years. When he was 19, he lost his job. At that time, his friend asked him to teach in a private school. Although he did not want to be a teacher at that time, he still entered the profession. The reason was that he considered teaching a safe haven and a transition during which he could look for other opportunities at that time. However, when he had experienced more interactions with students, he became enthusiastic about teaching. I found teaching highly rewarding. Although there’s not much time left for me, I am still eager to devote myself to the students. I really hope I can help them as much as I can. I don’t mind making more effort. Just like . . . in the private school I was working for, there were some students with difficult financial background . . . In order to help them, I tried to arrange different field trips for them. I wished to give them warmth, happiness, and something that their family might not be able to provide for them. At that time, I had a really close relationship with my students and they felt great gratitude to me . . . I was reluctant to part with them. That’s why I have been staying in this profession for 40 years. (David) David’s case shows that teachers may develop a sense of responsibility to their students when they discover students’ needs and problems after interaction with students. If the students express appreciation to them, they may feel positive about teacher-student relationships. As a result, the teachers may aspire to make a difference in students’ lives.
Values and goals of teaching 39
The conceptions of teaching and teacher The intrinsic/altruistic value and goal of teaching, i.e., making a difference in students’ lives, may closely relate to the teachers’ conceptions of teaching and teacher. Some of the informants referred to teaching as the cultivation of talent. In order words, to them, teaching was helping students to explore and develop their talent and to fostering their whole-personal development instead of transferring knowledge only. To me, education is more than teaching. It’s about how to help develop the talents of students according to their abilities. (Tom) On the one hand, teaching is about imparting knowledge to the students, but on the other hand, teaching is also about mentoring the personal growth of the students. Education is not just a guide of academic achievement, but also a channel for nurturing personal growth, i.e., whole person’s development. Both aspects should be concerned. (Connie) To cultivate and nurture students, the informants thought that teachers needed to dedicate themselves to their students. Therefore, some of them called teaching a conscientious occupation. I think working in this industry is a matter of conscience. We’re not joining for money. We need to earn a living, but not to make money like people in other industries. These young people are our future. I feel like we should more or less be a role model for them. (Sally) John gave an elaboration about the meaning of conscience in teaching as follows. As for the meaning of conscience in this industry . . . we’re not just obligated to complete specific tasks or fulfill specific job description like some of the other occupations are. Let’s say, an accountant can take rest right away after finishing the necessary calculations, but teaching is totally different. A teacher needs to pay attention to the needs of different students all the time, such as matching suitable extracurricular activities to particular students so as to help their development. We always need to think about how to do better. Of course, we can somehow choose to skip many works. However, for the sake of conscience, we would prefer to do right by ourselves whenever we knew what we do might be good for the students. (John)
40 Values and goals of teaching Accordingly, the informants may regard teaching as the labor unconditionally done to cultivate and nurture students. Therefore, some informants commented that enthusiasm was the basic requirement of becoming a teacher. As David said, I have heard from some of my colleagues that they chose this job because of its high income. It’s not a problem to choose a job due to its high income, but the willingness to make an effort on the job is the matter. For example, a teacher can say he has finished his work after teaching all the lessons and marking all the assignments in a school day, but a good teacher should be more than that and pay more attention to his students. For instance, if a teacher notices that a student has always been normal but feels really down lately, he has to get involved in due course to see if he can help anything. I think this is essential. (David) Other informants, such as Leo, also had similar comments. Being a good teacher needs to be determined, really determined, but not just for a living. A good teacher doesn’t mind spending spare time to serve the students and doesn’t care about gains or losses. The most important quality is the willingness to do more, teach more, and devote more to the students, ie, love the students. (Leo)
Socially constructed value and goal Similar to other studies (e.g., Hao & de Guzman, 2007; Lam, 2011), the present research identifies that teachers may have different intrinsic/altruistic and extrinsic values and goals of teaching. According to the findings, many informants frequently expressed that they were committed to making a difference in students’ lives as their value and goal of teaching (see Table 3.1). Even though some of them had not thought about that at the beginning of their teaching career, they gradually and ultimately changed their original extrinsic values and goals to making a difference in students’ lives. In a sense, making a difference in students’ lives may be a more salient and essential goal than other goals among the teachers. To some extent, making a difference in students’ lives is a socially constructed value and goal of teaching. It may be constructed by the traditional Chinese cultural definition of education in the spirit of Confucianism. Confucianism defines education as not only to acquire knowledge, but also to cultivate students to be the men of virtue (junzi), who reach the highest standard of benevolence (ren), justice (yi), politeness (li), wisdom (zhi), fidelity (zhong), integrity (xin), and filial piety (xiao) (Gu, 2004). In order to accomplish this end, teachers are required to act as the parents of students who devote themselves to cultivate and nurture their students’ all-round and whole-person development (Yin & Lee, 2012). This cultural definition of education may influence how teachers perceive themselves
Values and goals of teaching 41 and their work in teaching in Chinese societies (Hue, 2008; Yin & Lee, 2012). For example, in the present study, the informants’ conceptions of teaching and teacher, such as the cultivation of talent and enthusiasm as the basic requirement, reflect the Chinese cultural definition of education. As our findings suggest, these conceptions of teaching and teacher may closely relate to making a difference in students’ lives. It may imply that the Chinese cultural definition of education more or less directs the teachers to sense making a difference in students’ lives as a value and goal of teaching. On the other hand, it does not mean that the teachers must be committed to making a difference in students’ lives as their major value and goal of teaching (Lai et al., 2005; Lam, 2011). Making a difference in students’ lives may become their major value and goal when teachers note the sense of responsibility in teaching. According to the findings, teachers may note the sense of responsibility from social interactions. Some of them may learn it from their interactions with their own teachers who taught them with passion and enthusiasm in the past. From their teachers, they have learnt that teachers were responsible to exert positive influences upon children’s growth. On the other hand, some teachers may derive the sense of responsibility from the social interactions with their students. When the teachers interact with students, they may discover teaching as a meaningful work that can nurture students’ growth. If their relationship with students is good, their students express appreciation to them, or they observe significant changes caused by their teaching efforts among their students, then it is possible for them to learn the sense of responsibility and gradually uphold making a difference in students’ lives as the major goal in teaching. Accordingly, the value and goal of teaching may also be constructed through social interactions of teachers to their teachers and students. In the following chapters, I will analyze how the major value and goal of teaching, i.e., making a difference in students’ lives, influences the teachers’ interpretation of their work and emotions, what social constraints affect teachers in attaining the goal, and what are the emotional consequences caused by the success and failure of the goal attainment.
4 Power and status, workload, and emotional experiences in teaching Power and status, workload in teachingPower and status, workload in teaching
In this study, when the informants were asked to talk about their work experiences, they had loads of complaints. Some of them even felt helpless and discouraged at work. It seems that the informants did not enjoy their work. This could be observed from how they reacted when talking about their working conditions. For example, some of them kept sighing, some had rather trembling voices, and some even had tearful eyes. In terms of appearance, they looked weary and exhausted. For instance, some of them were sleepy and even fell asleep during the interview. Many informants described their conditions as caam2, a Cantonese adjective that covers a range of meanings like unhappy, gloomy, dreadful, tragic, pitiful, pathetic, discouraged, frustrated, miserable, and the like. In this sense, caam2 implies a wide variety of negative emotional experiences teachers encounter in teaching. There are different explanations for the emotional experiences of caam2 in teaching. Some people think that teachers feel negative in teaching because nowadays many students disrespect them and misbehave toward them (e.g., Chang, 2013). However, the present research findings imply that students’ disrespect and misbehaviors may not be a critical factor making Hong Kong teachers feel negative in teaching. Most of the informants said that the students always interacted and talked to them in an impolite way, but they did not think the impoliteness meant disrespectfulness. This is because they interpreted the impoliteness as the students’ usual way of communicating. Therefore, students’ impoliteness may not be the main reason. As Crystal deliberated, Having heard of students’ braying, you may be under the impression that they are scolding you or they dislike you. But this is not the whole picture. Their braying may simply be their way of communicating with everyone. That means, braying can be seen as one of the ways they talk to their friends. The more we interact with the students, the more you know how they communicate with each other. With more understanding, you know they are not personally against us. There is no need to be upset. It is not necessary for you to be upset. (Crystal)
Power and status, workload in teaching 43 Other people argue that teachers nowadays are constantly criticized by students’ parents and thus they may feel deprofessionalized and demoralized (e.g., Lasky, 2000). Indeed, some of the informants mentioned that they felt unhappy because they had to interact with “troublesome parents” who had many complaints or requests. However, they only regarded a few parents as troublesome. According to them, most of the parents were nice, cooperative, and respectful to them. Generally speaking, they had positive feedback toward the interaction with parents in teaching. Some other people suggest that schools are full of micro-politics between teachers within a school (e.g., Blase, 2005) and the micro-politics will create a stressful working environment and atmosphere for teachers (Kelchtermans & Ballet, 2002). In this study, five informants (Tom, Paul, David, Sally, and Rex) from two schools mentioned the issue of micro-politics. According to them, the micro-politics made them feel “discouraged”, “frustrated”, “wary”, and “cautious”. As Paul explained, the reason was You won’t know what may happen to you afterwards. You won’t know how you have offended others. And you won’t know whether others may threaten you or not. If so, you won’t know how others may attack you. All, you can do is to pay careful attention under all circumstances. It’s really a stressful job for teachers! (Paul) However, only 5 informants from two schools talked about this issue out of 21 informants coming from ten schools. It seems that the micro-politics may not be a common reason resulting in the informants’ emotional experiences of caam2 in teaching. Accordingly, the teacher-student, teacher-parent, and teacher-teacher relationships may not be the major source of the emotional experiences of caam2 in teaching, although each may have some contributions to teachers’ negative emotional experiences. On the other hand, the study finds that all the informants tend to associate the emotional experiences of caam2 to one issue, which was workload.
Teachers’ workload and emotional experiences of caam2 It’s like I have to work around the clock every day. Even though I don’t go to school at weekends, I still need to mark students’ assignments at home. Of course, I don’t prefer such practice, but the workload is simply overflowing. Well . . . it’s like I have lost my private time. Since I am always occupied with my work, I can never say “yes” when my friends asked me out for the weekend. (Jack)
The above excerpt was a typical emotional expression shared by many informants when they talked about their working conditions. From the excerpt, we can see
44 Power and status, workload in teaching how the workload had been exhausting to the teachers. Many informants told me that they always stayed at their schools from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., although their official working hours generally were between 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Going home did not mean an end to their work. They always continued to perform work tasks like marking students’ assignments and lesson preparation at home. When they finished the work, it might already be midnight. Sometimes, they might be unable to complete their work in the weekdays, so they had to sacrifice their weekends and holidays to continue with their work. Thus, as other studies suggest, the actual working hours for teachers in Hong Kong, on average, are in the range of 10–12 per day and 50–60 per week (Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union, 2012; Yeung & Liu, 2007). As a result, they may sacrifice their holiday and leisure. This situation may lead to teacher stress, exhaustion, burnout, and other negative emotions (Lee et al., 2007; Yeung & Liu, 2007), which could be summarized as the emotional experiences of caam2. To some extent, the heavy workload was caused by multiple responsibilities of teaching. According to the informants, these responsibilities included teaching, teacher-student interaction, extracurricular activities (ECAs), school teams/committees, special roles, and other duties. The informants would like to categorize these responsibilities and related workload into two types: “instructional work” and “non-instructional work”. Generally, they perceived “instructional work” as the work related to students’ growth, including academic performance and personal development, whilst “non-instructional work” was the work related to school administration. I see any tasks related to students’ learning and their personal growth as instructional work and the rest as non-instructional work. In my mind, noninstructional work, such as form filling tasks, is mainly for administrative purpose. (Peter) Accordingly, the informants tended to view the responsibilities of teaching and teacher-student interaction as “instructional work”, and the rest as “noninstructional work”. It is noted that, as we shall see later, the categorization of “instructional” and “non-instructional” was not fixed. Different informants had different understandings about “instructional” and “non-instructional work”.
“Instructional Work” Teaching responsibilities The first and foremost responsibility for the informants was teaching. In Hong Kong secondary schools, students generally had 8 lessons (around 280–320 minutes) per day, but the informants, as Table 4.1 shows, had nearly 5 lessons every day on average. Although they might have 3 free lessons (around 105–120 minutes in total), they could not take any rest during the free lessons. One reason was
Power and status, workload in teaching 45 Table 4.1 Workload related to teaching responsibility, extracurricular activities, school teams, and special roles among the informants Career stage
No. of lesson (per day)*
No. of class
No. of grade
No. of ECA club
No. of team and committee
No. of role
All (n = 21) Early (n = 9) Mid (n = 7) Late (n = 5)
The number of homeroom teacher lessons is excluded.
that they needed to do lesson preparation. Table 4.1 suggests that the informants on average had to teach 4 different classes in 3 grades. In addition, some of them needed to teach more than one subject (see Table 1.1). Thus, they had to prepare different materials and contents for different classes and different grades. The informants said they generally spent around 15–30 minutes on preparing a lesson. Although the informants did not teach 4 classes at different grades every day, it was still common for them to teach 2–3 classes at different grades. In this sense, they needed to spend 30–90 minutes on lesson preparation every day. Even though they taught different classes in the same grade, the students’ needs and abilities between classes could be very different. Consequently, they also needed to prepare different sets of materials in order to cater to the diversity. We have to prepare more activities and exercises for smarter classes. That is to say, we have to search for extra materials on our own so as to teach them wider and deeper contents. Like teaching past perfect tense, aside from the compulsory worksheets assigned by the school, we have to prepare more advanced information for smarter classes. As for the students from weaker classes, they are generally . . . not capable of doing the worksheets in the curriculum. That’s why we have to spend time on preparing another set of materials in a rather basic level, or even easier level for weaker students. Sometimes, the materials can be as easy as those for primary school students. (Connie) In addition to lesson preparation, the number of classes implies the workload of marking. The class size in Hong Kong secondary schools was around 25–40 students. For example, if a teacher teaches 4 different classes and assigns one assignment for each student per week, he or she needs to mark 100–160 assignments per week. Actually, this number is huge for teachers. One informant
46 Power and status, workload in teaching illustrated how time-consuming marking tasks burdened the teachers who taught “language subjects” like English, Chinese, Liberal Studies, and History. Every day, we ask students to hand in assignments, which need further marking and become our heavy workload in return. Marking work is particularly time consuming for some subjects, like language, Liberal Studies or History. These subjects require texts and essays as answer format, but there is no model answer. We have to read every little word written by our students carefully for error, comment writing or feedback giving on each assignment. I can say that marking one student’s assignment takes me at least 15 minutes. So, 30 students will take me at least 7–8 hours. (Paul) Accordingly, teachers may spend a lot of time on marking, because they needed to read and check students’ writings carefully and then give comments and feedback to each student. Nevertheless, it does not mean that marking is easier for those who teach “numerical subjects” like Sciences, Mathematics, and Accounting. To some extent, the teachers who teach this kind of subject can check the students’ answers with model answers. However, the informants who taught these subjects pointed out that marking was also very time-consuming. One of the reasons was that they needed to check the calculation step-by-step carefully rather than simply giving a tick or cross. In Mathematics, the difficulty of marking lies in quantity. Even one single assignment takes me a lot of time to check because it consists of many different exercises. In fact, marking Mathematics assignments is more than simply placing a tick or cross. We have to check each calculation step which carries different marks correspondingly. A correct answer doesn’t mean it comes with correct calculation steps. On the contrary, even a wrong answer can generate marks with correct calculation steps. This marking process involves a lot of time. (Bonny) Moreover, an informant commented that the teachers who taught numerical subjects would like to give students assignments more frequently than those who taught language subjects, because it is all about calculation, and students need to do more exercises for consolidation. The main difference between numerical subjects and language subjects for a teacher is the quantity of assignment marking work. (John) In addition, many informants said they would arrange supplementary lessons for students after schools, because the official lesson time was insufficient for them to cover the curriculum and syllabus or because they wanted to improve the
Power and status, workload in teaching 47 academic or examination performance of students, especially the underperforming students. First of all, we don’t really have enough time to go through all the details in the curriculum due to the increase in content. We have to pick a few days and ask the class to stay behind after school for supplementary lessons, in order to go through all the materials covered in the exams. As for the ability of the students. . ., if they are capable, they might be able to catch up with the course during routine lessons, and supplementary class would therefore not be necessary. However, most of the time, they don’t really learn what they should learn in the routine lessons, so we have to help them out with more dictations, tests, assignments in order to secure their performance in public exams. (Mandy) The number of classes and subjects that teachers are responsible for also relates to another workload, that is, the attendance of grade meetings or collective preparations. According to the informants, almost all of them needed to attend meetings every week. During the meetings, the teachers who taught the same subject and grade would sit together and then share and discuss their teaching progress and experience. As a result, if they taught more than one grade or one subject, they needed to attend more than one such meeting. The meetings generally were held during teachers’ free lessons. Thus, some teachers may be dissatisfied because they may have less time to concentrate on their own lesson preparation. In general, collective lesson preparations take place in teachers’ free lessons. . . . If we teach one form, we need to attend one session of collective lesson preparation. Accordingly, four forms equal to four sessions. . . . Free lessons are supposed to be spent on our own lesson preparation or assignment marking. But now we probably need to go to the library for presentation about teaching procedures . . . or evaluations on past experience [. . .] (Mandy) Some teachers may also be dissatisfied with the practice of meetings because they may think those meetings were a waste of time. Ideally, we really want to discuss and exchange the ideas of teaching. However, the reality is quite the opposite. Each of us needs to share our ideas in the meeting, but honestly . . . what can we share? Share my teaching life? Maybe I can just share some useful websites. That’s it. Why do we bother to spend half an hour on the meeting? . . . I’m not saying that we don’t want to do more for our students. If what we do can bring better teaching to our students, we are more than willing to do it. But what we see now is a waste of our time. We don’t think we can come up with something useful during the collective preparations. (Leo)
48 Power and status, workload in teaching Accordingly, the major concern among the informants about the grade meetings or collective preparations was effectiveness. If the meetings could be beneficial to teaching and learning, they were willing to join the meetings even though the meetings would have otherwise occupied their free time or free lessons by which they could do their own lesson preparation and assignment marking. For example: In my eyes, meetings are very important to us. During meetings, we can discuss the learning progress of our students. Collective preparation is really vital . . . it’s a channel in which we can honestly report the situation of our teaching according to the ability of our students. We can share our experiences and solutions to common problems at class. In the end, this helps us understand the whole curriculum and the teaching progress better. The rooms for improvement and the corresponding solutions can also be discovered clearly. (Tom) During grade meetings or collective preparations, the informants sometimes needed to review and discuss the teaching materials prepared by other teachers who taught the same subject and grade. Although the teachers may prepare materials for one another, it may not significantly reduce their workload of lesson preparation. The reason was that they needed to carefully read the prepared materials. If they found the materials did not fit their teaching needs or students’ standard, they needed to adjust or redesign the materials on their own. INTERVIEWER: Another teacher has already prepared a set of teaching materi-
als for you. Don’t you just use it directly for teaching? Why do you need to prepare again? MANDY: Oh, yup, but we can’t just rely on it. We have to digest the context before using it. Sometimes, different teaching methods should be applied based on different classes. That is to say, the reactions to different teaching methods may vary from class to class. If the class feels bored with a particular teaching method, we will then have to make adjustments accordingly. That means even the teacher, who prepared the teaching materials, thinks that a particular video is useful for teaching a particular class, but I may not have the same thought and may need to spend some more time to find a more compatible video, or in some cases, more supplementary information. Because those teaching materials may not provide sufficient information and this becomes our work to replenish the material set. Anyway, we have to modulate the teaching methods based on different class.
Teacher-student interaction All informants pointed out that teacher-student interaction outside the classroom was part of a teacher’s responsibility. For them, this responsibility was an “instructional work”. This is because they generally believed that the interaction
Power and status, workload in teaching 49 could help them have a better understanding of the students’ needs in order to enable them to facilitate students’ study and growth. In addition to teaching, I think building good relationships with students is important. This is because a good teacher-student relationship can . . . bring you many benefits. First, it is beneficial to your teaching. The better the relationship with them, the better they tend to behave. The less emotional they are during your lessons, the smoother your lessons will be. Second, they may encounter some problems but have no one to turn to. Then, we can become their listeners. I think this may help them solve some problems, particularly emotional ones. (Peter) In order to have good interaction or relationships with students, the informants would initially approach their students during recess time, lunch time, and after school. Many informants also said that when they noticed students who had behavioral or emotional problems, they would talk and counsel the students in their private time in order to help them overcome the problems. Some of them, like Olivia and Isabella, opened a special Facebook account for their students. They would talk to the students, answer students’ questions, and encourage students to study through Facebook after school.
“Non-instructional work” Extracurricular activities Although ECAs may benefit students’ personal growth, most of the informants perceived the responsibility to organize ECAs as “non-instructional work”. The reason was that organizing ECAs involved a heavy administrative workload, including designing activities, booking venues for the activities, monitoring students in the activities, contacting service providers if necessary, making notices about the activities to parents, evaluating and reporting the effectiveness of the activities. According to the informants, they had to organize a lot of ECAs throughout a school year. First, Table 4.1 indicates that the informants needed to take charge of one extracurricular activity club on average in their schools, such as Drama Club, Physics Club, Dance Club, Community Youth Club, TableTennis Club, and the like. In addition to the recreational activities, every subject department and school team and committee, especially the Guidance Team and the Moral and Civic Education Team, would also arrange ECAs or what they called cross-curricular activities with different purposes. Subject departments may organize ECAs to motivate or foster students to learn. For example, Take Chinese History Department as an example. We will take the students to visit museums, leadership exhibitions, and heritage trails. We will also organize study tours in order to help them understand Chinese history. (Tom)
50 Power and status, workload in teaching The school teams may organize ECAs aimed at facilitating students’ personal growth, such as voluntary work, camping, sex education program, and more. Consequently, according to the informants, teachers needed to design and arrange various ECAs for students. If the ECAs were outdoor activities like voluntary work, camping, and visiting, first, they needed to identify a suitable site; second, they needed to inform students’ parents; third, they needed to be present at the sites and look after the students.
School teams and committees In Hong Kong, secondary schools had many school teams and committees. The informants indicated that they were asked to join some of the teams or committees in addition to subject departments in schools. According to Table 4.1, the informants attached themselves to two school teams and committees in their schools on average in addition to their subject departments. As team members, they had to be responsible for the work assigned by the teams. Since the nature and function of each team were different, it is hard to list all the work of each team. Nevertheless, I still identified some of the common workloads of the teams and committees based on the interview data and the documents of the schools such as school annual plans and reports. First, all the teams and committees had many meetings for the team members to discuss the team and committee affairs. Second, all the teams and committees required their members to do a lot of paperwork, documentation, and reports for the preparation of school annual plans, annual reports, and evaluation. Third, many teams and committees needed members to organize school or student activities or programs. For example, the guidance team, moral and civic education team, discipline team, career guidance team, and ECA team would arrange a lot of ECAs or cross-curricular activities related to moral, civic, sex, or career education for students. Some other teams and committees, such as the Parent Teacher Association, may also need to arrange events to foster parent-school relationships, such as dinner parties and picnics. Table 4.2 summarizes the major school teams and committees among the informants’ schools. Although the list does not list all possible teams and committees in each school, the point I want to make is not about how many teams and committees a school has. Instead, I would like to point out that the teachers as the team and committee members need to be responsible for the work assigned by the teams and committees. In other words, the more teams and committees they take part in, the greater their workload. As Sam said, On top of teaching, a teacher probably needs to follow a few teams. So, it is natural that we need to handle a series of duties for our teams. A school is detail-structured. I mean it is composed of many different teams. That is to say, I don’t only teach Maths, but also have to follow Guidance Team and School Magazine Team. Thus, I need to organize guidance activities with Wong sir and publish school magazines with other language teachers. The more teams we follow, the more duties we have to take up. (Sam)
Table 4.2 The major school teams and committees and their functions in the secondary schools School teams/committees
School management committee (SMC)/ incorporated management committee (IMC)
To set the strategic mission and policies of the school To provide leadership to put the mission and policies into effect To supervise the management of the school To report to stakeholders on its stewardship To devise the school’s major concerns To prepare the school annual plan and school report To formulate long-term development plans of the school To deliberate upon school policies and measures To review and evaluate the school’s present conditions To oversee and coordinate all school teams of the school To enhance curriculum development To formulate strategies to improve teaching and learning effectiveness To oversee and coordinate all subject departments of the school To foster students’ moral development To cater to students’ psychological well-being and social skills To help students develop a positive outlook on life To prepare students for further studies and career development To provide guidance for students on further studies and careers To monitor students’ behaviors in order to maintain a disciplined environment in the school To ensure students conform to school rules and regulations To teach students to exercise self-discipline To promote students’ ethics, morality, civic rights and responsibilities To foster students’ sense of belonging to the school and the community To encourage students to be aware of and be interested in current social issues To formulate and review school extracurricular activities To provide students with a wide range of extracurricular activities To oversee and coordinate all the extracurricular activities in the school
School executive committee (SEC)
School general/ affairs/administrative committee Academic/curricular committee
Career guidance team
Moral and civic education team
Extracurricular activities (ECA) team
Source: The information about the teams and committees summarized here has been extracted from the school annual plans, school annual reports, and school websites of the informants’ schools.
52 Power and status, workload in teaching
Special roles Actually, the informants had to perform some special roles in addition to the teacher role. Many of them took on the role of homeroom teacher, some of them preformed the role of grade coordinator, and some took on the role of subject panel head or team/committee leader. According to the informants, each of the roles implied many subtle but annoying duties. For example, homeroom teachers had to deal with many class affairs, contacts with parents, and students’ disciplinary problems. Grade coordinators needed to oversee the collective lesson preparation, evaluate the teaching and learning difficulties in that form, and provide support for other teachers such as helping teachers to find worksheets. Subject panel heads needed to write the plans of teaching progress for each form, organize subject-related activities for students, be responsible for book inspection, observe teachers’ lessons, and prepare reports for the subject department. Team/committee leaders had to write proposals or year plans for the team/committee, set the team/committee’s aims and policies, design programs to meet the aims, and evaluate all the programs organized and prepare reports.
Campus patrol According to the informants, the schools asked them to patrol the campuses during recess and lunch time and some of them may also be asked to guard the places nearby after school. The informants referred to the campus patrol as being on duty. We need to go on duty during every recess and lunch time. Teachers need to patrol every area where students can access. On duty means . . . for example, one teacher is responsible for one floor, like there’s a teacher responsible for the first floor. When it is lunch time, each teacher needs to stay there for half an hour. However, even though teachers are on duty, there’re still many unforeseen possibilities at classrooms such as students fighting or throwing objects from the windows. So the school requires us to closely monitor the students when we are on duty. (Mandy) From the above quotation, it can be seen that the purpose of on duty was to monitor the students. If the students misbehaved during recess and lunch time and after school, the teachers on duty needed to stop and punish them. It is noted that on duty was basically in shifts, so teachers did not go on duty every day. Some informants said that they went on duty once every one to two weeks.
Emotional experiences of caam2 across career stages It is appeared that the informants felt caam2 in teaching because they needed to handle different kinds of “instructional” and “non-instructional work”. This
Power and status, workload in teaching 53 situation made it difficult to complete all the work within the official working hours. As a result, they needed to extend their working hours and sacrifice their leisure time. However, workload might just be the apparent reason for their negative emotional experiences in teaching. A closer examination of the data discovered that the underlying reason was related to the interpretations of teachers’ work, especially on the interpretation of the “instructional” and “non-instructional” work. It became more obvious when comparing the narratives between teachers with different teaching experiences. To illustrate this point, the informants were categorized into three groups in terms of their teaching experience: early-career (