How Do Teachers Come to Care?

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


This presentation reports the findings of an institutional ethnography in a pri¬mary school in the north of England during a period of ‘notice to improve’.This regulatory status followed an inspection by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) in which the school was judged as ‘per¬forming less well than it might in all the circumstances reasonably be expected to perform’. This study situates the teachers’ experience of ‘notice to improve’ within their everyday practices and embodiment of ‘care’ as they enact the policy discourses that organize their work.
The study aligns institutional ethnography with a narrative method, ‘The Lis¬tening Guide’ (Mauthner and Doucet 2008), and a political ethic of care (Tronto 1993) to reveal and analyse the co-ordination of social relations. Care emerged as a problematic from the teachers’ standpoint, a disjuncture in experience, as they activated and appropriated texts in order ‘to get out of’ notice to improve. Institutional ethnography (Smith 2005) enables explication of the ruling relations of policy and performative texts, and how these texts are taken up and activated by teachers in coming to care as an institutionally organized aspect of their work. As such the study reveals the trans-local, extra-local, and situated connections and co-ordination of work during a time of enhanced scrutiny and accountability, and the tensions with teachers’ wider understanding of care. Analysis reveals an understanding of care as political and moral and involving more than the dis¬courses of intimate relationships and role modelling promulgated as necessary to good pupil outcomes.
The research explicates the hierarchy of textual mediation of teachers’ work and explores how teachers come to care through politics first, morality first, and personal and professional moral boundaries. It identifies a wider understanding of care that gives rise to more socially just and equitable ways of acting.
Period10 Jul 2016
Event title3rd International Sociological Association Forum of Sociology: The Futures We Want: Global Sociology and the Struggles for a Better World
Event typeConference
Conference number3
LocationVienna, AustriaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational