10 SES 09 A, Teacher Education: Future, Potential, Image
Recent literature on teacher education highlights the importance of using identity development as an analytic framework to better address aspects of teaching, and, most specifically, the challenges of becoming a teacher (Luehmann, 2007; Beauchamp and Thomas, 2009; Jarvis-Selinger, Pratt & Collins, 2010; Akkerman & Meijer, 2011). Concerning identity development, over the last twenty years, the focus has been gradually replacing more traditional views of how teachers develop, which were predominantly based on the acquisition of assets, such as knowledge, competences and beliefs (Korthagen, 2004; Akkerman & Meijer, 2011). Similarly, the prevalent idea that there might be one (self), predetermined, fixed or given, sustained and unchanged identity is, nowadays, fading away (Bendle, 2002; Watson, 2006; Mcdougall, 2010). Alternatively, a social constructivist paradigm is gaining ground while arguing that identity can never be something that is just internal as it is necessarily relational, and has to do with the recognition of sameness and difference between ourselves and others (Watson, 2006). Within this general framework, professional identity has been defined through a number of diverse lenses. Gee (2001) defines teacher professional identity in terms of the processes of recognition occurring in the interpretations of common everyday experiences. Most specifically, this author uses the term identity to mean “being recognized by self or others as a certain kind of person in a given time and context” (p. 99). In this sense, all teachers have “multiple identities” (Gee, 2001), or “sub-identities” (Beijaard, Meijer & Verloop, 2004), which are connected more significantly to their performances in society than to their “internal states”. This is not to deny that each individual has what one might call a “core identity” that holds more uniformly, for oneself and others, across contexts. In addition, Gee (2001) sketches out ways of recognizing a person as “a certain kind of person [teacher]” in four perspectives: nature (stemming from one’s natural state), institutional (derived from a position recognized by authority in society), discursive (reflecting how a person is ascribed by self and others) and affinity (determined by experiences shared in alliance to other people).
At the same time the research literature has been specially emphasizing the role that talk and discourse play in teacher identity construction (Gee, 2001; Miller Marsh, 2003; Alsup, 2006; Clarke, 2008; Danielewicz, 2008) drawing, predominantly, on interpretative small-scale and in-depth methods of research, such as individual semi-structured interviews and focus groups (Brown, Reveles, & Kelly, 2005; Cohen, 2010; McDougall, 2010; Trent, 2010). For example, Brown et al. (2005), Cohen (2010), and Day, Stobart, Sammons, and Kington (2006) stress the intricate connection between identity, language and teaching/classroom learning, while arguing that teachers’ talk of their experiences both in school and in student teaching practicum settings are essential to our understanding on how they construct and re-construct their professional identities. Therefore, ”language in this context entails more than understanding the thematic patterns, semantic relationships, and syntactic forms of [teachers’] discourses” (p. 781) ( Brown, et al. 2005); rather, employing a particular discourse allows an individual to become recognized as a certain kind of person within a certain context (Gee, 2001). Thereby, the literature keeps reiterating the need for further elaboration of the concept of identity in distinct empirical fields, using a varied range of methods to enhance new understandings on teacher professional identity Akkermann & Meijer (2011).This paper takes Gee’s (2001) discursive notion of identity to examine the discourses that pre-service physical education teachers used about themselves and others in discussing their mission as physical education teachers in the context of their practicum training in school.
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