• Vibeke Bruun Hansen
4. term, Psychology, Master (Master Programme)
This qualitative study seeks to examine teachers’ personal experiences regarding expectations in relation to their work. The problem this paper aims to address, is as following: “How do teachers experience having to live up to an emotionally manage their own and others’ expectations in and to the context of their work”. This will be achieved using a phenomenological hermeneutics realm of understanding where three interview were conducted with teachers located in three different schools. Based on these interviews, three themes were discovered using thematic analysis and interpreted through existing theories and three theoretical perspectives, including Bandura, Goetz and Hochschild.

The first theme revolves around how teachers have high expectations and are pursuing high ideals in their work. Teachers have conceptions of what “the good teacher” should be, but this concept is often unrealistic and will in most cases be impossible to live up to. This can result in situations where teachers do not feel they are good enough, or where they feel they could have done more, which can impact their everyday life in a negative way. This negative effect is not always limited to their work life but can also affect their personal identity. This teaching job overall seems to take a toll on teachers’ mental resources, and therefore requires mental strength and sturdiness.

In the second theme it is revealed how teachers include themselves in their work, which is a result of how heavily involved and engaged they are in their job. This drive is caused by a desire to help develop children and create relationships with them. This raises their expectations and ideals of what they believe can be achieved on behalf of the children. This personal and emotional bond to the children affects the teachers on a personal level, especially those children who needs the teacher the most. It triggers very high emotional ups and downs depending on whether the children succeed, where it seems like the positivity experienced, when it is going great, is why the teachers can handle the low points.

The third theme explore the expectations the teachers experience from parents, which does not seem to be consistent between different teachers. Here one teacher experiences a negative impact of the parents’ expectations, while the second does not, and the third is somewhere in between. It is hard being a teacher for the children when there is a disagreement between the parents and teachers’ expectations. Here, parents can sometimes have high expectations of how much time the teachers can put into each child individually, over the overall community in the classroom. Furthermore, teachers meet expectations of how the school must take on additional tasks and upbringing, some of which were previously the parents responsibility. This can challenge the teachers’ feeling of being “a good teacher” which often is based on personalized ideals.

This leads to a discussion on of how the teaching job is characterized by emotional contrasts, where both commitment and impotence is present at the same time, but despite this, most teachers feel it is worth it. The issue is that the burden teachers experience in their everyday work life is only addressed when it is too late, and the burden has become too much. Teachers’ mental strength and sturdiness only help them to certain extent. It is worsened by how many people has an opinion of schools and teaching, and teachers finds themselves in the middle of this tension field. Teachers are bound to work withing the established external framework, but at the same time they face the parents’, societies, and their own expectations. Teachers are being torn in different directions at once and their work is constantly up for negotiation. It can trigger feelings of being inadequate and insufficient. It is however suggested these feelings are not only bound to teachers, but inadequacy, high expectations and unrealistic ideals are characterized our society today.

Finally, it will be discussed how I as the researcher unintended may have influenced the study through my pre-understanding of the field and personal interest in the problem area. Furthermore, the quality of the study will be discussed, and the study is concluded to be valid and reliable to a large extend. It is debatable whether the study is generalizable to a large extend due to the limitations of the study like the number of interviews conducted. Despite these limitations, conclusions made in this study can still be valuable as the interview process is detailed and of a high quality. It is therefore important to keep the circumstances and context in mind.
Publication date30 May 2022
Number of pages69
ID: 471672904