10 SES 09 A, Professional Identity & Teacher Identity: Language education
There has been a shift in second language education from looking for better ways to educate teachers to focusing on how teachers learn to teach through reflection and self-awareness (Richards, 2008). It is without doubt that teacher education plays a significant role in pre-service teachers training and how they learn to teach, but it is also important to note that pre-service teachers create their own teaching practices affected by a variety of reasons of which their professional identity is one of the most influential driving forces.
It can be seen in the related literature that there is no single definition of identity. It is according to our relationship to the world or the future as it is for Norton (2000), it could be defined in reference to others as it is for Danielewicz (2001). There are, however, some generalizations as follows:
- Identity is both individually and socially shaped (Coldron & Smith, 1999).
- Identity is context-dependent, in relationship with other, shifting and multiple, and about construction and reconstruction of meaning (Morgan, 2004; Peirce, 1995; Rodgers & Scott, 2008).
- Identity includes beliefs, values, emotions about teaching and being a teacher (Farrell, 2011).
- Identity is enacted in the classroom as decision making, or in different settings (Alsup, 2006; Burns & Richard, 2009).
- Identity is often associated with some certain roles with which identity is intricately interwoven and there is a differentiation between the roles and identity (Borg, 2006; Farrell, 2011; Samuel & Stephens, 2000; Sugrue, 1997; Urrieta, 2007; Walkington, 2005; Zare-ee & Ghasedi, 2014).
- Identity consists of sub-identities such as professional, situated, personal or subject matter, didactical, pedagogical experts (Beijaard, Verloop & Vermont, 2000; Day & Kington, 2008).
- Identity could also be discussed under modern and postmodern dichotomy (Sugrue, 1997).
In addition to aforementioned basics of identity conceptualizations, identity is also explored as ‘identity-in-practice’ and ‘identity-in-discourse’ (Varghese et al., 2005). Identity-in-practice is operationalized through actual practices in contexts such as practicum for the current study. So, teacher education becomes relevant in teacher professional identity development. Teacher education could be evaluated as a process of becoming a teacher or learning to teach.
At this point, sociocultural view in teacher education and identity helps to appreciate and utilize teacher education process more efficiently. Adopting a sociocultural stance necessitates such a worldview identity construction is continuously shaped by individuals and social discourses (Trent, 2014).
In Wenger (1998) and Xu (2012, 2013) in parallel to Moscovici’s (2000) theory, it is debated that identity formation is about three modes of belonging: engagement, imagination, and alignment. Identities of engagement or disengagement arise from negotiation of meanings, which basically means identifying oneself with a community as the experience becomes relevant. Professional identity could be grouped as rule-based, cue-based, exemplar-based, and schema-based identities as well.
Practice teaching provides a transition from university to schools. During this period, pre-service teachers are also engaged in reflective practices, which is quite common in teacher education programs (Beijaard & Verloop, 2000; Farrell, 1999). Practice teaching as a community of practice and reflection is seen crucial in the development of teacher professional identities (Hochstetler, 2011; O’Connor, 2008; Walkington, 2005).
Critical reflection is prioritized as well by various researchers such as Alsup (2006), Beauchamp and Thomas (2009), Lee (2008), and Rorrison (2010) and considered central in both teacher education and teacher professional identity development.
The study aims to find out answers to the following questions:
- What constitutes teacher professional identity according to pre-service English language teachers?
- How do pre-service English language teachers see their professional identity development during practice teaching?
- How do practice teaching and reflection influence pre-service English language teachers’ understanding of their professional identity formation?
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