Published in

Rowman & Littlefield, Journal of School Leadership, p. 105268462097206, 2020

DOI: 10.1177/1052684620972065



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Performativity and Caring in Education: Toward an Ethic of Reimagination

Journal article published in 2020 by Jeff Walls ORCID
Distributing this paper is prohibited by the publisher
Distributing this paper is prohibited by the publisher

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Schools are expected to be sites of caring, but there is evidence that both students and adults often experience them as uncaring places. One reason is that a sustained and heavy policy emphasis on accountability and demonstrations of effectiveness has placed pressure on educators to perform in certain ways, and to care about things other than caring. This case study explores how leaders and teachers at two schools balance their efforts to care for students, on the one hand, with the performative pressures they feel, on the other hand. Teachers who were able to prioritize a balance of care used collaborative relationships with colleagues to manage the pressure they felt, and took a longer term, more emotionally attuned, and more inquiry-based approach to meeting student needs. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.