27 SES 04 C, Parallel Paper Session
Parallel Paper Session
Central to all students’ school education is the teacher (Hayes, Mills, Christie & Lingard, 2006). There are a multitude of research studies that document and support successful teaching practice, but rarely have these studies investigated teacher qualities that go beyond the question of technique (e.g., classroom strategies and approaches). Yet, good teaching goes beyond ‘good technique’ (Palmer, 1993) – if it were mere technique then it should be well understood by now. Teachers’ professional practice is shaped and directed by their sense of identity (Beijaard, Verloop, & Vermunt, 2000).
Teachers teach within and through particular disciplines (e.g., mathematics), and the nature of their teaching practice has been shown to vary according to the discipline being taught and the ages of the students (Martinez, 1994). So, when a teacher takes a mathematics class they teach more than just knowledge and skills – they also convey beliefs, values and emotional responses about the discipline (Grootenboer, 2006), and these are grounded in the teacher’s mathematical identity. This means that what they know, believe, value and do as a mathematician will have a significant impact on the students’ developing mathematical identity (Zevenbergen & Grootenboer, 2009). As argued by Ramsey (2000), “it is impossible in any discipline to separate the content from the pedagogy” (p. 37), with the implication being that “teachers never teach something in general – they always teach particular things to particular groups of [students] in particular settings … most human learning and teaching is highly specific and situated” (Shulman & Sparks, 1992, p. 14). However, teacher identities also include their perceptions of themselves as educators and their pedagogical practice is constituted by their pedagogical identity and their discipline-based identity (Ballantyne, 2006).
With this in mind, we set out to investigate the professional and discipline-based identities of teachers of mathematics. In particular, the study focused on the following research questions:
- What are teachers’ sense of identity as a teacher and their sense of identity relative to the discipline of mathematics?
- How do teachers negotiate these identities in the context of teaching mathematics?
The concept of ‘identity’ is an encompassing conceptual framework and incorporates personal knowledge, beliefs, values, emotions and practices about teaching, about the disciplines they are teaching, and about themselves as educators (Grootenboer, Smith & Lowrie, 2006). It includes what teachers think and do, but it also encompasses their sense of who they are. The concept of ‘identity’ has been employed by a range of disciplines in a variety of ways and hence it tends to be ill-defined and there is continuing debate about whether an individual has one identity with many aspects, or if they have multiple identities (Grootenboer, et al., 2006). In this study we were interested in how teachers viewed and defined their own sense of identity, and implications of such identities to their practice.
Ballantyne, J. (2006). What music teachers want: The emergence of a unified understanding of an ideal teacher education course. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 31(1), 2-11. Beijaard, D., Verloop, N., & Vermunt, J. D. (2000). Teachers' perceptions of professional identity: An exploratory study from a personal knowledge perspective. Teaching and Teacher Education, 16, 749-764. Grootenboer, P. J. (2006). The impact of school-based practicum on preservice teachers’ affective development in mathematics. Mathematics Teacher Education and Development, 7, 18-32. Grootenboer, P. J., Smith, T., & Lowrie, T. (2006). Researching identity in mathematics education: The lay of the land. In P. Grootenboer, R. Zevenbergen, & M. Chinnappan (Eds.) Identities, cultures and learning spaces (Proceedings of the 29th annual conference of Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia, Vol. 2, pp. 612-615). Canberra, Australia: MERGA. Hayes, D., Mills, M. Christie, P., & Lingard, B. (2006). Teachers and schooling: Making a difference. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen and Unwin. Martinez, K. (1994). Postcards from the edge. In Knowledge and competence for beginning teaching. Brisbane, Queensland: Board of Teacher Registration,Queensland. Palmer, P. (1993). To know as we are known: Education as a spiritual journey. New York: HarperCollins. Ramsey, G. (2000). Quality matters. New South Wales: Department of Education and Training. Shulman, L. S., & Sparks, D. (1992). Merging content knowledge and pedagogy: An interview with Lee Shulman. Journal of Staff Development, 13(1), 14-16. Stake, R. (1995). The art of case study research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Strauss, A. & Corbin, J. (1998). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory (2nd ed.). London: Sage. Zevenbergen, R., & Grootenboer, P. (2009). Towards a theory of identity and agency in coming to learn mathematics. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology Education, 5(3), 255-266.
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