Schooling as a threat or contribution to wellbeing? A study of Norwegian teachers' perceptions of their role in fostering wellbeing.
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Little is known about the role of teachers in fostering wellbeing in the everyday context of school life. This paper explores the phenomenon among a sample of Norwegian teachers. Focus groups with 23 teachers in four schools (grades 1–10) in Norway were conducted. In the analysis of the findings three themes were developed: 1) fostering student wellbeing as the foundation to teachers’ everyday philosophies, 2) managing the everyday reality of student performance expectations, and 3) teachers struggling to manage these tensions and dilemmas. This study indicated that the teachers viewed concern for students’ wellbeing as integrated in their professional identity, seeing wellbeing and learning as intertwined. However, dilemmas and tensions in teachers’ every day practices were identified, which related to competing expectations and conflicting priorities in the school context. High expectations on academic performance seem to leave the teachers little room for an holistic approach to schooling, where students’ academic and personal development were interwoven. We discuss the possible consequences these findings may have for teachers’ professional identity and judgements, alongside suggestions for how to address these aspects in CPD and initial teacher training programmes.