Jean head shot

About the creator

Dr Jean Hopman resides in Australia and completed a Bachelor of Primary and Secondary Education with Monash University in 2000 and went on to study a Postgraduate Diploma in Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. This study combined with fifteen years experience teaching and counselling in diverse educational settings; including government schools, private schools, international schools and alternative education settings, led to the undertaking of a PhD at Victoria University titled, Emotional Work: applying reflexivity in teacher practice.

About the site

teacherSTORY evolved out of my PhD, which explored how a group of six secondary teachers managed the emotional work of teaching. We worked together over eighteen months and developed a process of support while sharing stories of our day-to-day work that was emotionally evocative.

The research led me to understand some things about teachers’ work:

  • Relationships are important to teachers but are often minimised through professional standards.
  • Relationships with students are emotionally evocative, but relationships with the teaching peers are equally complex and emotionally resonant.
  • Because relationships are important to teachers and professional standards often require teachers to remain emotionally neutral, teachers’ work lives are navigated within a set of firm emotional rules; for example, teachers must not show fear of their students or teachers must love their work but not love their students.
  • These emotional rules often leave teachers in tension between what they see as important in fostering a warm rapport with their students and peers while maintaining a ‘professional’ identity by remaining emotionally neutral and in control.
  • Understanding the tension is complicated. The multiple layers that impact on this tension are not easily considered because teachers are typically asked to remain emotionally neutral — they are asked to bury their emotion, yet it is emotion that is the gateway to understanding how a person might make sense of their world.

This blog intends to continue to explore the emotional work with teachers. I started the conversation in an article that I wrote for The Conversation in the early stage of my research project.  To continue the conversation each quarter I will post a teacher’s story and together we can explore the multiple layers that feed into it.