Deakin University

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A trio of teacher education voices: developing professional relationships through co-caring and belonging during the pandemic

journal contribution
posted on 2022-03-18, 00:00 authored by Dawn JosephDawn Joseph, R Lahiri-Roy, Jemima Bunn
PurposeThis research is situated at a metropolitan university in Melbourne (Australia) where the authors work in initial teacher education programs within the same faculty. The purpose of this study is to raise awareness that collegial, collaborative and “co-caring” environments can foster an improved sense of belonging, acceptance and inclusion in the academy. They also argue that communities of practice may foster an improved sense of belonging that enhances empowerment and harmony among all staff in academia in pandemic times and beyond.Design/methodology/approachThe authors draw on case study methodology as a qualitative approach to understand and illuminate the phenomena under study. Case study methodology provides an in-depth understanding of their trifocal voices, as it allows them to voice their stories through collaborative autoethnography. The authors use self-narratives to unpack their sense of belonging in academic spaces. Collaborative autoethnography (CAE) enabled them to work together as a team of women and as a community of researchers.FindingsThe findings foreground the responsibilities of casual staff while concomitantly articulating the challenges faced by both permanent and casual staff to create a “sense of belonging” in the academy. The authors found that social connection engenders a sense of belonging and inclusion within a space that is often beset by neoliberal ideologies of competitiveness and individual achievement. They articulate their stress, pressure and uncertainty as permanent and as casual academics working supportively to develop and maintain identity in very difficult circumstances. They share how they developed professional relationships which bring unforeseen benefits and personal friendship at a time of especially restrictive practices.Research limitations/implicationsThe paper includes three voices, a limitation in itself, thus generalisations cannot be made to other academics or institutions. Employing CAE offers the possibility of delving more deeply into the emotional complexities inherent within this method for further research. They recommend a sense of “co-caring” as a form of pastoral care in the “induction program” for all academics including casual staff. While this may not “strategically” fit in with many because of power imbalances, the journey of co-caring and sharing and building friendships within the academy has a limited presence in the literature and calls for further investigation.Practical implicationsThe authors draw attention to the need for higher education institutes to recognise the role permanent staff play when working with casual academics.Social implicationsThe authors draw attention to the need to be inclusive and collaborative as a way to improve the divide and strengthen connections between permanent and casual academics at university worksites. This is imperative given the shifting demographics within Australia and its workforce. They also highlight issues of race in the academy.Originality/valueThis is an original work carried out by the authors. It raises concerns about a sense of belonging in the academy, job certainty and the place of people of colour as these issues may also be experienced by other full-time and casual academics.



Qualitative Research Journal













Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal