Teacher support : an exploration of the concept of teacher support, investigating how secondary comprehensive school teachers perceive their classroom needs and define the support required to fulfil their professional role.
An exploration of the concept of teacher support, investigating how secondary
comprehensive school teachers perceive their classroom needs and define the support
required to fulfil their professional role.
Through a combination of narrative and ethnographic research methods, this research explores
how secondary comprehensive school teachers perceive their professional role and define the
support which they need to fulfil their role in the context of their classroom work. Building on
research into the professional lives of primary school teachers carried out by Nias (1989) and
Woods et al. (1997) and on the work of Poppleton and Riseborough (1988, 1990, 1991), I argue
from the data that secondary school teachers have a dual commitment to the communication of
subject and to the individual needs of pupils. A perceived inability to fulfil successfully this dual
role within the constraints under which they are working causes teachers profound stress and
distress, and may lead to distorted behaviour and confrontational situations. I explore the
disjuncture which occurs when the gap between the self which the teacher strives to project (the
conative self) and the professional persona which pupils and colleagues perceive (the apparent
self) becomes too great. Support is defined as provisions which facilitate the expression of the
conative professional self.
The literature on teacher support and the perceptions of fieldwork participants suggest that
collaborative initiatives based on shared values and purposes offer potential for fruitful
development. This is also explored in the context of a whole school discipline system and a
small self-help group. Ambivalent attitudes towards both collaboration and support are