01 SES 07 B, Understanding Professional Identity
This paper is about the community of practice that develops when teachers work together across national boundaries and also discusses how international collaboration by teachers shapes professional identity.
The data presented here comes from a case study that was conducted, as one aspect of the research, that informs a doctoral thesis that I am currently writing, at Cambridge University. The data referred to in this paper was collected via four semi-structured interviews with teachers from Bahrain who were involved in international networking programmes that linked them with teachers from Britain. In this paper I explore whether these participants perceived themselves as having a shared professional identity and also whether they saw themselves as belonging to a community of practice that crosses national boundaries (Wenger, 1999) .
in this paper I outline a conceptual framework in terms of how identity is constructed within a professional community. This specifically relates to a professional community that crosses national boundaries. In this concept framework I suggest that teachers who are working with colleagues from other nations build their professional identity together, through mutual discourse. I also suggest that they actively construct their professional identity with these colleagues and that they find this rewarding and significant (Frost, 2014).
The research questions for this study were as follows:
1) what motivates teachers to engage in networking or partnership projects or programmes with teachers from other nations?
2) do teachers who are engaging in networking or partnership projects or programmes that cross national boundaries perceive themselves as belonging to a community of fellow professionals? If so how do they define this community?
3) in what ways, if any, does participation in such projects or programmes shape their professional identity?
This paper responds to several of the themes identified as being at the core of 'network one' and of these most explicitly to: ‘ways in which teachers learn and develop throughout their professional career’. In relation to this, this paper also addresses issues around the broader concept of 'transition'. The emphasis on partnership and networking mean that it could fit equally comfortably within 'network fifteen'.
Frost, D. (2014) Non-positional teacher leadership: the miracle of the perpetual motion machine, a paper presented in the symposium: 'Changing teacher professionality: research and practical interventions in Europe and beyond' at ECER 2014, Porto 2nd-5th September. Rubin, H. & Rubin, I. (2011). Qualitative Interviewing, the Art of Hearing Data (3rd ed). London: Sage Publications Ltd. Wenger, E. (1999). Communities of practice: learning, meaning and identity. UK: CUP
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