10 SES 07 B, Parallel Paper Session
Parallel Paper Session
This paper adopts a sociocultural approach to the question of the professional identity of teacher educators within an Irish context. This paper is in four parts. First, it provides a theoretical framework on the significance of learning trajectories and shaping influences on identity construction, drawing particularly on the work of Bourdieu (habitus) and Wenger (communities of practice). Second, the methodology of the study is briefly discussed and the strengths of a life history approach are indicated in the context of the study. Third, drawing from the data, it is suggested that there are five main identity types working with within the Colleges of Education and university Departments of Education that provide initial teacher education at primary level. Each of these identity types has different relationships with both the teaching profession and the academy. Though working in the same ‘field’ each experiences different pressures/ challenges due the changing institutional and policy context. Some of these challenges emerge as identity conflicts which are experienced relative to their positionings, values and the new reform requirements. This data set revisited at this time highlights further issues of continuity and discontinuity within professional identity in initial teacher education in Ireland. Fourth, some tentative conclusions drawn and the implications for professional learning within the academy and teacher education are explored.
In the past two decades, there has been an unprecedented amount of research conducted into the identities of student teachers, induction, early professional learning and continuing professional development (Day and Sachs, 2004). While teacher education too has come under more critical scrutiny, there have been many efforts internationally to reform initial teacher education (Kellaghan, 2002; Byrne, 2002). In contrast with these sustained efforts to shed light on particularly important ‘corners’ of student teachers and teachers’ professional learning and identity construction, teacher educators themselves, who they are, what they stand for, and what the dominant influences have been and continue to be on their professional identities has until relatively recently a ‘secret garden’. Phase One of data collected mapped the terrain of teacher educator identities in an Irish context (See O’Brien and Furlong, 2011). Given the establishment of an Irish Teaching Council in 2006 and its publication of new guidelines for initial teacher education providers (2011) it is now timely to revisit these professional identities and to explore in a more in-depth way if they have been buffeted and changed by the political and professional reform agenda.
Research question – Have teacher educator identities been altered by the new reform agenda in initial education within the Irish socio-cultural context?
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