Eider Salegi: “The person who has developed the sensitive view believes in the capabilities of the child”


Eider Salegi: “The person who has developed the sensitive view believes in the capabilities of the child”


Eider Salegi: “The person who has developed the sensitive view believes in the capabilities of the child”

The dissertation “Irakaslearen begirada sentikorraren eraikuntza” (“Creating the teacher’s sensitive view”), defended by Eider Salegi on the Eskoriatza campus last July, earned the cum laude designation. We spoke with the author about her research.



On July 16, Eider Salegi (Orio. 1981) defended her doctoral dissertation, entitled “Irakaslearen begirada sentikorraren eraikuntza” (“Creating the teacher’s sensitive view”). The event was held on the Eskoriatza campus. We asked the researcher about her work, which earned the cum laude designation.

What is the teacher’s “sensitive view”?

When we talk about the sensitive view of the teacher, we mean the view that the teacher has of the students, which directly influences his or her behavior and professional activity. A teacher with a sensitive identity is not just a sensitive teacher; it’s something that goes further, since it shapes a way of being.

The definition of the teacher’s sensitive view is comprised of five aspects: the view of the child, the view of education, the view of the role of the teacher, the view of the other, and the view of oneself.

Although in the dissertation each aspect is explained in depth, in short, we would say that the person who has developed a sensitive view trusts in the capabilities of the child. This way of seeing the child and understanding his or her childhood will determine the teacher’s intervention completely, and from there he or she will implement interventions that focus on those children, and will create contexts in which the child is safe, satisfied and confident and develops his or her abilities. The teacher becomes an observer of the natural processes of children; he or she is positive, sweet, sensitive, welcoming, understanding, has the ability to connect emotionally, supports the autonomy of children, establishes clear limits but acts flexibly, does not exercise power with force. The objective of the sensitive teacher is to connect with the peculiarities of each child. In addition, the teacher with a sensitive view sees and understands the other person from a position of respect and acceptance, as classmates, families. Their goal is not to mold, but to try to understand the other person, to have socio-emotional skills and to act responsibly and with commitment. The teacher with a sensitive view has worked to achieve a strong identity, responds with certainty and strength to educational practice and shows his or her willingness to adapt to new situations. Furthermore, the teacher with a sensitive view takes care of him- or herself, puts paths toward well-being into effect, and considers continuous learning to be very important.

However, there are also variables that have an indirect influence on this sensitive view; the personal characteristics of the teacher are of great importance. Analyzing the significant milestones and experiences of his or her life directly influences the teacher’s sensitive view; exploring the attachment model or taking one’s self-perception about well-being and self-esteem into account, for example, is meaningful. On the other hand, it is important to pay attention to the training that the teacher has received, since the quality of that training can also influence the creation of the sensitive view. Among other things, one of the objectives of the dissertation was to focus on the aspects that I believe are fundamental.

Why is it important to work on that view?

Early Childhood Education is a critical stage for many reasons: it is a time for play, for learning to move, for starting to talk, for discovering the environment, for acquiring autonomy and for relating to others. In childhood, the first pillars of one’s personality and, of course, of one’s whole life, are set down. Early Childhood Education is the beginning of the child’s school career, and is a very important stage in their development. We should consider it a strategic stage in schools.

Keep in mind that school is more than just teaching. In that context, they build important relationships that help them grow. Consequently, their development also depends to a large extent on the response of the adults at school. Therefore, the view and the role of the teacher is critical. Since the child spends many hours at school, it is up to the teachers, at least during school hours, to offer the child the appropriate conditions and resources for their growth and development. It is essential to focus on the teacher when we talk about a quality early childhood education.

In this sense, building a quality relationship with each child is one of the main duties of the teacher, behaving with sensitivity for that purpose and turning that relationship into a secure image of attachment for the child. Sensitivity is the ability to be aware of the child’s signs and needs and to respond in a way that is appropriate to the circumstances. Thus, teachers become important attachment figures for children, as they provide them with physical and emotional support to explore the context and build relationships with both the other and their peers. It should be noted that attachment is the most important developmental factor in child development. The child must form a secure attachment with the adult. And in the case of school, with the teacher. To form this secure attachment, the child needs sensitive adults.

In addition, the identity of the sensitive teacher provides a framework for knowing “how to be a sensitive teacher,” “how to act as a sensitive teacher” and “how to understand education in a sensitive way.”

How and where can that view be created?

In this study, we analyzed seven teachers each has his or her own view, no two views are the same; and if we had studied 30 teachers, we would have many more different views. It is therefore important to underline the gradation of sensitivity. It is not a dichotomy of being sensitive vs. not sensitive; a person may have more or less sensitivity. Some are closer than others to achieving the sensitive view.

According to the results of the study, the sensitive view is a construct that develops over time. It’s a living process. The person does not emerge by defining a specific identity or establishing a sensitive view; it’s a never-ending process. The view is something dynamic, complex, multidimensional and changing; it is created in interaction with the context and it affects all aspects of the person. And this is reflected in the classroom environment, in behavior and evaluation with the child. Another idea that we want to highlight is that the sensitive view can be developed.

Taking into account the life stories of the teachers we analyzed, it is clear that there are a series of facts that have had an influence on the creation of the sensitive view, significant facts that have influenced the lives of the teachers; milestones that can be considered turning points and that were the antecedents to the view that they have today.

So the person changes and evolves over time through different experiences and episodes of life. And that also has a direct impact on that person’s professional function. This process is continuous; what we are today is a consequence of everything we experience, of the people who have passed through our lives, of our values, thoughts and emotions, and of whether our experiences have been positive or negative.

It is noteworthy that all these facts have something in common: they are closely related to the body and experiences. Furthermore, they are often not easy experiences, they can bring suffering, but they can also lead us to look at things from a different perspective and in a different way, they are experiences that present a great opportunity to learn and that allow transformation because one questions oneself. They have the ability to change what was already configured inside us and our way of seeing and feeling. This leads a person to understand things, look at things, and experience a context in a different way. Thus, these passages of life have the capacity to produce changes in identity or in the professional process. On the one hand, we have significant personal passages, which are mainly related to childhood experiences: relationships with parents or siblings, first memories and school experiences, bittersweet relationships with friends, cases of bullying, abandonment... On the other hand, there are the significant pedagogical passages, which highlight the change brought about by training sessions in their “view” and their intentions for training in the future. Y finally, there are the significant professional passages: the contributions of experiences related to stability, innovation processes, job satisfaction, etc.

The teacher’s attachment model can also be said to be critical and a determining factor in the construction of the sensitive view. But it’s not definitive. Just as you can work and develop a sensitive view, you can also work and deal with attachment models. Although throughout life these models remain stable, they can undergo changes as a result of new experiences and quality relationships with other significant influences.

What methodology did you use for your dissertation?

We opted for a qualitative methodology. In this study, we wanted to explore the professional and personal life of the teaching staff, and for this purpose, we used the biographical-narrative method, since it makes it possible to become familiar with the way human beings experience the world and reality. Narrative research is an interesting way to think about experience, since it’s a suitable tool to internalize identity, meanings and practical knowledge. In addition to taking the teachers’ life stories as a starting point, I sought inspiration in the life history methodology.

Seven professors participated in this study, and they have several characteristics in common. For example, they all studied Early Childhood Education and share the same profession. But they grew up, got their education, and built their relationships in different contexts. They’ve had different life experiences. Their educational paths have also been different. They each have their own personal history and they belong to different age ranges and work histories.

The main tool for data collection was the biographical interview. Each teacher was interviewed, and the interview was divided into three parts, based on questions about personal history, professional history and the daily work of the teacher.

On the other hand, to explore the adult attachment model, we used the Experiences in Close Relationships (ECR-S) scale, which places each person in one of four models of attachment: secure, anxious, avoidant and worried.

Can you tell us about your main conclusions?

This research has made it possible to identify the keys to the development of the sensitive view: awareness, adaptability, well-being, resilience, involvement and commitment, and finally, training.

These main variables interact constantly. Because, as mentioned above, the sensitive view is a dynamic, adaptable, and constantly changing process. A process in continuous movement, and each teacher has their own sensitive view, adapted to each moment and context.

Knowing yourself and being aware of yourself strengthens your identity and enriches your own view. And that is the starting point of personal development and of teachers’ well-being. When the teacher feels good, possibilities open up to develop a sensitive view, which opens the doors to observing and listening to the child, that is, to being attentive to their signals, interpreting them and responding to them appropriately.

But if the teacher does not have well-being, his or her sensitivity decreases. Feeling rushed or worried does not allow teachers focus on the child, to experience him or her. As a result, the ability to listen is hindered. When the well-being of teachers decreases, sensitivity also decreases. And this is related to the negative responses of teachers, which can directly influence the development of the child; implementing rigid practices and routines, increasing punitive reactions or influencing the listening ability of the teacher. In this type of situation, the resilience of the professional is a very important factor in facing the different challenges created by difficult situations.

When the teacher acts sensitively, however, he or she adapts to the child, acts flexibly and is another key to the profession. Only in this way will it be possible to build a quality relationship with the child.

When they see the children well and happy, they feel that they’re good teachers and they feel at ease in their work. And children feel this way when they feel confident and secure in the relationship. This allows teachers to feel involved and engaged in their work.

The development of sensitive behaviors by future teachers is very important, so focusing on training is strategic. For the educational design of the sensitive view, this study offers some keys and advice. It is clear that it is necessary to accommodate personal development in training, as well as self-knowledge, sensitivity, identity and resilience. The issue of attachment models is another of the fields to take into account and address in this training, because of its importance, and because it is an area that can be worked on and developed.

What possible lines of research does your study open up?

The importance of training in the creation of the sensitive view is clear. Looking to the future, it may be interesting to have an influence on the training that occurs in Early Childhood Education and to deal with these issues not only in the degree program, but also in professional development or in the continuing education of the teachers who are working at the school. Once this is done, it would be interesting to see whether or not the sensitive view has developed.

It could also be very interesting to analyze the issue of gender.

Did you find anything curious or anything that surprised you in your research process?

When you work on your own story, you (re)find yourself. You begin a task with yourself that changes your relationship with your own story. It’s curious how speaking about it can transform it. The interviewees were given space and time to speak and the interviews sometimes seemed even therapeutic in nature, and the interviewees have commented on this. It helped them to see and manage anger in a different way or, simply by naming something, by putting words to certain difficulties, they began to take small steps forward. Someone even commented that the process influenced them in a positive way in their relationships.