The look of Love: reception teachers’ perceptions of professional love

PEARSE, Sally (2021). The look of Love: reception teachers’ perceptions of professional love. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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This collaborative, longitudinal study uses narrative and creative methods to explore five reception teachers’ perceptions of the concept of professional love and how it is enacted within the classroom. There is a growing body of academic work on loving relationships or professional love in the context of early years education and the place this has in professional practice; however, this has mainly been focused on early years settings prior to school. This study extends research on professional love into the school context, with teachers who are operating at the boundary between the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and the primary phase of education. Perspectives on the inherent tensions between the child-centred approaches of the EYFS and pressures relating to school readiness and preparing children for more formal educational practices inform the analysis of the rich data generated by the collaborative methodology and narrative and creative methods. Over the course of a school year the participants met as a group and told stories about love, discussed their practice and mapped their relationships with children using a sociogram. The study reveals that the participants identified professional love as a key element of their practice and that, when enacted, it presented a number of faces: tough love, natural love, effortful love, loving touch and as a mask that enables the teachers to meet their own emotional and social needs. The participants articulated their belief that professional love had a positive impact on children’s wellbeing, development and learning and supported the teachers in addressing the difficult issues and barriers that children face. However, prioritising professional love involves emotional labour and tensions with colleagues, school leadership and regimes of accountability. The findings suggest that the opportunity and space to collectively reflect on relationships over a period of time is crucial in supporting participants’ understanding and self-knowledge relating to professional love. The collaborative approach enabled the participants to co-construct their perceptions and definitions of professional love as they shifted and altered through this participative process. This study has implications for initial training iii and continuing professional development (CPD) as it indicates that approaches to support the development of professional love need to be complemented by additional tools and support structures that allow for the full complex and multi-faceted nature of professional love to be surfaced and discussed over time.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Boylan, Mark [0000-0002-8581-1886]
Thesis advisor - Carter, Caron [0000-0002-9280-6241]
Additional Information: Director of studies: Prof. Mark Boylan / Supervisor: Dr. Caron Carter
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2022 12:30
Last Modified: 02 May 2024 08:02

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