Meaning in work of secondary school teachers: a qualitative study

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 8
  • SDG 4
  • Abstract:

    In order to identify specific, shared sources of meaning and mechanisms with which individuals attempt to make meaning, the objectives of this study were to explore the way in which secondary school teachers  perceive, conceptualise and attain meaning in their work. A qualitative design with a phenomenological  strategy was used with a convenience sample (n = 20) of teachers. Semi–structured, one–to–one interviews with  pen–ended questions were used to gather data. Participants were asked to diarise related issues for five  working days following the interview, in order to strengthen and validate the interviews results. The results  showed that the participants conceptualise meaning as purpose and significance, and that the main sources of  meaning related to work include the transfer of knowledge, and making a positive difference in the learners lives. Forming relationships based on trust and receiving feedback was also important. The main mechanisms  identified were putting effort into preparations, while this group of participants reported that meaning leads to  the experience of happiness and personal satisfaction. Although most of these findings support those in the  broader literature, there are differences in the emphasis placed on some of the findings, due to the context of  education in South Africa. From the results, recommendations were made to create opportunities for teachers  to experience more meaning in their work.