2009 Volume 76 Issue 1 Pages 33-43
The purpose of this study is to analyze teachers' self-disclosure to students and examines its meaning and function. Most previous studies have suggested that teachers' self-disclosure promotes a more intimate relation-ship between the teacher and students. However, these studies did not investigate actual forms of self-disclosure undertaken by teachers during daily classroom life, and did not analyze the content, context, and timing of such disclosure. This study used multiple methods, combining observations of, and interviews with, two secondary school teachers, and analyzed teachers' self-disclosure based on their in-class utterances. Results yielded the following findings. First, forms of teachers' self-disclosure consisted of four patterns: information, thought, experience, and desire. Teachers appear to make such disclosures in an effort to increase their own 'transparency'. Second, the former three patterns synchronized around the pattern of the desire, which teachers unconsciously disclosed. Therefore, the pattern of the desire was located at the center of the four patterns, and was mutually emphasized by the other patterns. The pattern of experience incorporated a message of empathy to students. In addition, during the analysis of the pattern of experience, it was clarified that the function of transforming students' feelings exist in the teachers' self-disclosure, because it drew a laugh out of a crying student. Third, the main context in which teachers' self-disclosure took place was during ethical training and class activities. Teachers rarely made self-disclosures during classes; however, to crystallize an abstract explanation of the subject matter, teachers would make self-disclosures. It suggested that the possibility of deepening students' understanding to subject matter and supporting scaffolding of their learning. And, teachers made personal and wide-ranging self-disclosures at an early stage of relationship formation with students. This phenomenon suggests that the 'social penetration theory' does not apply to teachers engaging in self-disclosure. Teachers appeared to semi-strategically disclose private information because they judged it necessary for the students' growth and education, an open relationship in the classroom, students' positive participation in the class, and expression of their own ideas and goals freely. In conclusion, teachers' self-disclosure to students had two long-term and potential functions: constructing an open relationship in the classroom and promoting student growth and transformation. It also fulfilled four immediate functions: accelerating student understanding of the teacher, conveying a message of empathy to students, transforming the students' feelings, and promoting student motivation to learn. These six functions acted individually and in combination according to the content, style, context, and timing of the teachers' self-disclosure. To promote the students' growth and transformation, teachers semi-strategically practiced self-disclosure according to the situation. In this sense, teachers exactly "invest the self in their work" and self-disclosure is one of the teaching strategies.