UBC Graduate Research

Investigating conceptual notions of teacher professionalism Marsic, Frano


Although teachers are commonly spoken of as professionals, establishing a clear definition and understanding of teacher professionalism has been demonstrated to be highly subjective and a source of great debate. Unlike other vocations, the professionalism of teachers has repeatedly been questioned and redefined over the recent tumultuous years of educational policy in British Columbia. Drawing on theories of professionalism (Ball, 2003; Grimmet and D’Amico, 2008; Hargreaves, 2000; Hyslop-Margison and Sears, 2010; Osmond-Johnson, 2018; Maxwell, 2015; Poole, 2007; Sachs, 2016; ) and discourse analysis (Bloor and Bloor, 2007; Fairclough, 2010; Mogashoa, 2014; Strauss and Feiz, 2014), this study investigates how teacher professionalism has evolved and is currently understood in both the academic literature and by the education stakeholder organizations, the BCTF and the BCPSEA, who make up the bargaining relationship in British Columbia. I believe that each of these organizations present their own views of professionalism which can be seen to compete with each other as discourses, and through the analysis of textual documents I attempt to construct an understanding of these conceptualizations. Then, through interviews conducted with practicing teachers, I attempt to develop an understanding of how current practicing teachers have internalized these competing discourses and have formulated their own views of their professionalism. By engaging in qualitative research based on a case study model using critical discourse analysis, I address the following questions: (1) How is teacher professionalism currently conceptualized and understood by both stakeholder groups (primarily the BCTF and the BCPSEA) and practicing educators in the BC public education system, and (2) in what way does each organization’s narrative or perspective (discourse) manifest in the views of these practicing educators?

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