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An Examination of Beginning Teachers’ Self-Presentation Styles and Strategies Hayuta Yinon Faculty of Education, University of Haifa Israel
• Goffman claims that we always act in front of others in order to make sure that they will get a desirable impression about us.
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• impression management or self-presentation strategies = • the ways by which we attempt to control the impressions of others about us
Schütz’s taxonomy of selfpresentation styles • Four styles of self-presentation: v. Assertive v. Offensive v. Protective vdefensive
The assertive style • people try to look good by presenting a favorable image of themselves. • Common strategies: ingratiation, exemplification and self-promotion.
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The offensive style • people try to look good by making others look bad. • Common strategies: criticizing and making ironic statements.
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The protective style • people try not to look bad by avoiding the conveyance of negative impressions. • Common strategies: avoiding public attention, minimal self-disclosure and a passive interaction.
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The defensive style • people try not to look bad by fighting off negative typifications. • Common strategies: denial, justification and making excuses.
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Uniqueness of the research • Filling a gap in the literature: impression management styles and strategies have only few applications in educational research and in teacher education. • It is important to examine how teachers operate impression management mechanism. • Opening a window into their inner cognitive world, to which research has only a limited access.
Research questions 1) What impressions interns make through their selfreported cases? 2) How do interns construct those impressions?
Research context Internship period in Israel At school Mentor At the university Group workshop
X 51 Participants Workshop 1: 17 interns Beginning teachers Workshop 2: 17 interns Workshop 3: 17 interns
Background details • Gender - 37 women, 14 men. • Sector – 26 Arabs, 25 Jewish. • Teaching level – 21 high-school teachers, 14 elementary school teachers, 7 middle-school teachers, 7 middle & high-school teachers, 2 other. • Subject-matter – 19 language teachers, 9 special education teachers, 7 humanistic studies teachers, 6 environmental studies teachers, 4 exact sciences teachers, 6 other.
Data collection • Written detailed description of an event or a dilemma, which the interns were concerned about, and for which they needed the group’s support. • Running of a virtual forum regarding the case throughout the year.
9 cases 6 cases 8 cases 11 cases 3 cases 2 cases 9 cases 2 cases
Data analysis Qualitative content analysis in stages: • Stage 1: Identifying what kinds of impressions the interns made through their case descriptions. • Stage 2: Sorting the descriptions of the cases into Schütz's four self-presentation styles, and to their sub-categories. • Stage 3: determining the frequency of each style and strategy, and examining the relationships between styles and strategies.
Initial findings • Interns used all Schütz's four selfpresentation styles, with the protective style being used less dominantly. • Interns usually used a combination of a few self -presentation styles. • Interns used the cases to present themselves as competent and serious teachers, as well as to encourage the group to support them.
Illustration: Shiraz’s case (pseudonym)
A competent and serious teacher • Offensive self-presentation: making the class look bad (in general) v Background details: a major subject, a final exam is coming up this year, not a very strong class. v Favorable conditions for learning: only 17 pupils in the class, a private school. v Explicit Statement: unawareness of the need to invest a lot in the major subject.
v. Strengthening the statement by giving examples: constant complains about homework, about the amount of material required to study, and about lack of time. • Offensive self-presentation: making the class look bad (the exam) v. Complains about scheduling an exam. v. Trying to avoid the exam by approaching the homeroom teacher.
v. The pupils actions while handing out the exam: only two pupils took the exam. v. The pupils actions the day before: planning not to take the exam by phone calls and MSN. • Assertive self-presentation: building a favorable image of Shiraz v. Mentioning that she has no serious discipline problems with the class.
v. Shiraz’s actions in response to the pupils' complaint: narrowing down the material to only two chapters; rescheduling the exam. v. Shiraz’s response to the homeroom request: no apologies and giving in, standing up for herself and explaining the situation. v. Consultation with the subject-matter coordinator. v. Shiraz’s actions while realizing most of the pupils didn’t take the exam: investigation of the case and coming back with results.
• Defensive self-presentation: everyone is backing me up v. The subject-matter coordinator perceives the same problem concerning this class. v. The homeroom teacher left the decision whether to postpone the exam or not to her and also informed the pupils of it. v. The subject-matter coordinator's response for the situation: asking Shiraz not to postpone the exam.
In sum Shiraz succeeds in establishing the impression that she is competent and serious by using offensive, assertive and defensive self-presentations.
Discussion • Interns made an impression of competence through their selfpresentations. • This impression is well associated with a novice state, which is characterized by a tendency to be concerned about how other people see them as teachers.
• The study exhibits the potential of using self-presentation styles and strategies for beginning teachers’ research: A possible explanation for the almost 50% attrition rate of beginning teachers from the profession throughout the first five years of teaching.
• The study also exhibits the potential of using self-presentation styles and strategies for improving beginning teachers’ practice: Introducing self-presentation styles and strategies to teachers as an interpretive lens for analyzing their own practice ---> teachers can learn to manage the impressions they make, and perform accordingly.
References • Goffman, E. (1959). The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Doubleday Anchor Books, New York. • Schütz, A. (1998). Assertive, Offensive, Protective, and Defensive Styles of Self. Presentation: A Taxonomy. The Journal of Psychology, Vol. 132, No. 6, pp. 611 -628.