[Diese Mal nur Englisch]
When I am not working as a psychodramatist, I conduct research on classroom learning, teachers, and the potential of new digital technologies. Recently, I tried to bring the two passions of my life together and wrote the abstract you will find below. It presents the theoretical underpinning for a workshop that aims at tackling role confusion and role conflicts as risk factors impairing many teachers’ health. The main idea is to propose a psychodramatic approach to strengthen the intra-personal resources of teachers and to enable them to orchestrate role expectancies and role enactment in professional social interactions. I invite you to discuss these ideas. It would be wounderful to hear from other psychodramatists who work with teachers.

Teaching is a complex task that requires a broad range of competencies. So far, however, both research and teacher education focus on cognitive, motivational, and behavioral aspects of the teaching profession. That is, models of teachers’ professional knowledge (e.g. Kunter et al., 2013; Krauskopf, Zahn, & Hesse, 2012), their pedagogical beliefs and attitudes (e.g., Ertmer, 2005; Fives & Buehl, 2008), and effective behavioral strategies for classroom management (e.g., Kunter, Baumert, & Köller, 2007) are widely researched and taught in teacher education programs. While all these aspects are important factors enabling teachers to provide beneficial learning environments, they somewhat neglect the socio-emotional needs of the teacher as a professional. Other lines of research indicate that focusing on these aspects as well is indeed advisable. Especially, the strategies of teachers to self-regulate impact both their teaching as well as their well-being (Klusmann, Kunter, Trautwein, Lüdtke, & Baumert, 2008; Kohen & Kramarski, 2012; Kramarski & Michalsky, 2010). In sum, given that teachers need to master a variety of challenges teachers face an increasing need for strategies to self-regulate their psychological resources. Further, given that teacher act within social environments that involve many different parties (students, colleagues, parents, principals, administrators) they also need to regulate their acting in the different roles these different parties afford.

Examining these needs from a psychodramatic perspective, we can reframe them as follows: In their professional setting teachers are acting in a variety of roles. At the same time they possess different resources (knowledge, beliefs, strategies) to answer to the demands they face in these different roles. Following Moreno’s theory of role conflict (see Leutz 1974 for an elaborate description; cf. van Ameln, 2009) this means that teachers face specific professional intra- and inter-personal role conflicts. Intra-personally they struggle a) with deciding in which role to act (e.g. as teacher or employee when talking to the principal), b) with communicating in what role they are acting at the moment (e.g. subject teacher or mentor towards a student), c) with their own expectations of how a certain professional role should be enacted (e.g. how much time to invest in helping struggling students), and d) whether the role afforded by a situation is compatible with their self-concept (e.g. being strict with a student when considering oneself a gentle person). On the other hand, they struggle with specific inter-personal role conflicts: in contact with others they struggle a) with the counterpart not clearly communicating in which role they approach the teacher (e.g. as student or as teenager in need), b) with different role expectations expressed by different counterparts in one situation (e.g. acting as subject teacher or as fellow employee when advising the principal in staff related matters), and c) ambiguous role expectations expressed by one counterpart in a situation. Taken together this can be seen as one major source for teachers‘ current and future early retirement due to health related problems (in 2011 in Germany only 41% of surveyed teachers expected their health to last until retirement).

Looking forward to your reactions.

Karsten, Berlin, Germany