How Do Teachers Come to Care?
The study aligns institutional ethnography with a narrative method, ‘The Listening 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 discourses 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.