INTRODUCTION, FOUNDATIONAL ASSUMPTIONS, AND OVERVIEW
Teachers’ professional lives are multifaceted and complex. Underlying these complexities are multiple processes that are at play as teachers navigate their work within existing social-historical contexts. Our focus in this book is to synthesize theory and research around processes, such as teachers’ goals, beliefs, emotions, and their developing professional identities to describe how those processes transact within particular social-historical contexts (Cross, 2009; Cross Francis, 2015; Cross & Hong, 2012; Hong, 2012; Schutz, 1991, 2014; Schutz, Hong, & Cross Francis, 2018). Identifying as a teacher involves both the ways in which teachers perceive themselves (as teachers) and the ways they portray themselves to their students, colleagues, administrators, and parents in various contexts (Nichols, Schutz, Rodgers, & Bilica, 2017; Schutz, Cross, Hong, & Osbon, 2007; Schutz, Nichols, & Schwenke, 2018).
Thus, our overall objective is to develop our understandings related to teachers’ goals, emotions, and developing professional identities. More specifically, we attempt to answer the following questions.
- 1 Why do people develop the goal to become a teacher and continue to teach?
- 2 How are transactions among goals, standards, and beliefs related to teacher emotion and identity development?
- 3 What processes are involved in identity development within social- historical contexts?
- 4 What processes are involved when teachers are regulating their learning, motivation, and emotion?
- 5 What are some ways that social-historical contextual influences create constraints and affordances for teachers and teaching?
6 What are the ways in which teachers can develop strategies that allow them to flourish in the classrooms and schools that are nested within social- historical contexts?
In this book, we bring together different theoretical and empirical lines of inquiry that result in a unique look at the development of the goals, standards, and beliefs to become a teacher and to continue to teach, and the emotions and identity development associated with regulating toward that goal pursuit within particular social-historical contexts. In addition, the overall goal is to develop theoretically and empirically based strategies to facilitate approaches that teachers can use to flourish (e.g., being an effective teacher with positive psychological well-being) in their profession (Fredrickson & Losada, 2005).
In order to facilitate our discussions, we think it is important to begin by explicating the interrelated assumptions we make about the nature of “realities” and the inquiry approaches we use while investigating those perceived “realities.” These assumptions are important, in that they provide the foundations for how we discuss, think about, and synthesize the processes we discuss in this book.
Socially Constructed "Realities" Assumption
Our first ontological assumption is that our theories and beliefs about the nature of “realities” are socially constructed (Collin & Young, 1986; Schutz, 1991, 2014). Basically, this means we construct our “meanings” of realities while transacting within those constructed realities. Thus, our transactions emerge from those socially constructed beliefs and theories about the world (Schutz, 2014; Schutz, Chambless, & DeCuir, 2004; Schutz, Nichols, & Rodgers, 2009). This suggests that because our theories and beliefs are socially constructed during transactions within various social-historical contexts, it may be useful to assume that, depending on the constructed realities, there is the potential for a variety of successful, as well as unsuccessful, ways of looking at and transacting in the world - in essence, equifinality.
Complex and Layered Systems Assumption
Next, it is useful to look at our constructed realities as complex and layered systems that are continually constructed and reconstructed (Bronfenbrenner, 1976, 1977; Cross & Hong, 2012; Hilpert, & Marchand, 2018; House, 1994; Kaplan, & Garner, 2018; Schutz 2014; Schutz et al., 2004; Spencer, Dupree, &
1.1 Ecological Dynamic Systems Model
Hartmann, 1997; von Bertalanffy, 1968). In order to develop understandings related to those complex and layered systems, we use an Ecological Dynamic Systems (EDS) perspective (cf. Bronfenbrenner, 1976, 1977) (Cross & Hong, 2012; Schutz, 2014; Schutz, Rodgers, & Simcic, 2010). The focus here is to acknowledge both the social-historical contexts (ecological) in which our transactions occur and the dynamic transactions that occur during and within various activity settings (dynamic systems) (Schutz, 2014; Schutz et al., 2010). To do that, we focus on three systems levels to describe our ever-changing transactions: (1) self-systems (2) immediate contexts, and (3) social-historical contexts (see Figure 1.1).
Our self-systems involve biological factors such as hereditary and evolutionary species-specific factors (e.g., genetic factors and life cycle processes such as growth, puberty, maturity, and physical decline) (Buhler, 1968; Lent, & Fouad, 2011; Patton & McMahon, 2014; Schutz, 2014; Schulz & Heckhausen, 1996) and individual processes such as the needs, goals, and beliefs (see Figure 1.1) that develop while transacting within our immediate contexts as part of various social-historical contexts (Schutz, 2014). In addition, there are a variety of other self-system identifying characteristics such as “gender,” “race,” or “sexuality,” to name a few (see Figure 1.1). Keep in mind that the differentiation of and meaning associated with those and other identifying “labels” are explicated during transactional activities in immediate contexts that are embedded in broader social-historical contexts (see Chapter 7).
Immediate Contexts Influences
Our self-system needs, goals, beliefs, and so on emerge within immediate contexts (e.g., family activities, peer group activities, school activities, sports team activities, work activities) (see Figure 1.1). Immediate contexts transactions tend to occur in patterned and repetitive activity settings (e.g., dinner table, playground, classroom, practice field, the office) (Gallimore, Goldenberg, & Weisner, 1993; Schutz, Hong, Cross, & Osbon, 2006; Tharp, Estrada, Dalton & Yamauchi, 2000). One example, in education, is the classroom, which, like other activity settings, involves who is present and available; what constitutes social cultural values and beliefs associated with that activity setting; the task demands of the activity itself; the established ways of doing things in that setting; and the needs, goals, and salient identities of the participants (Gallimore et al., 1993).
Transactions among the members of our immediate contexts and the places where those transactions occur create activity settings where cultural knowing is transmitted. This enculturation process encompasses the learning and development individuals undergo both inside and outside of the home throughout their lives. These are both the formal (e.g., school, churches, sport clubs) and informal (e.g., playground, sleepovers, lunchroom) transactions where we assimilate the cultural elements of our world and are provided exposure to social beliefs and norms that tend to guide our behaviors. This socialization process influences the development of our self-system needs, goals, beliefs, and identities, which serve as filters through which we assess situations and determine the most appropriate responses within our immediate and social-historical contexts. These resulting responses and the accompanying actions influence the immediate context, creating multidirectional transactions. It is important to keep in mind that individuals, for example, prospective and practicing teachers, are active agents in this process and therefore their influences tend to be multidirectional (Rots, Kelchtermans, & Aelterman, 2012). Both the immediate contexts and the associated activity settings are nested within broader social-historical contexts.
Social-Historical Contextual Influences
In Figure 1.1, the circle labeled social-historical contextual influences (e.g., social media, government laws and regulations, segregated schools and communities, age-graded tasks; property tax as school funding, teacher salary) is meant to represent the larger society and their potential influences on the self-systems and immediate contexts. It is important to keep in mind that these systems across all levels continue to change (e.g., teacher training in 1950 is different from current teacher training). In other words, the development of a goal to become a teacher as well as the goals developed over one’s teaching career emerge within the context of a larger complex social-historical contextual web.
One illustration of these social-historical influences was demonstrated by Schutz, Crowder, and White (2001), who interviewed college students during their training to become a teacher and explained how these college students, with the goal to become a teacher, were either encouraged or discouraged in that pursuit because of social-historical influences and beliefs about gender or a teacher’s role in society at that point in time. Thus, due to the constraints and atfordances provided within social-historical contexts, becoming a teacher in the United States has different meanings than becoming a teacher in other countries throughout the world.