Preservice teachers' negotiation of middle school science teaching identity
Lawrence, Molly Noelle
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Learning to teach is a complex endeavor that scholars have begun to explore in new ways. These approaches diverge from investigations exploring the connection between the cognitive dimension (i.e., teacher knowledge and skills) and teachers’ practices. Building on the work of situated learning and practice theorists, studies of learning to teach have begun focusing on identity as a relevant construct in exploring teacher learning. Such approaches emphasize learning and identity as inextricably linked and depict learning as a process of becoming. Scholars have noted that forging a teaching identity is an important aspect of entry into the teaching profession. In this study, I focused on teaching identity but diverged from the more static, developmental perspectives often employed. More specifically, I explored beginning teachers’ negotiation of middle grades science teaching identity. I defined teaching identity as how individuals enact themselves in the world for the purpose of constructing an adequate representation of the complex process of learning to teach. Conceptualizing identity as action-based is imperative as it requires a focus on the socially-situated and personally-bound nature of beginning teachers’ work in the classroom. I employed the term negotiate to depict how individuals enact themselves as teachers in an endeavor in which they are agents, but in which multiple tensions are involved that must be prioritized. In exploring negotiation of teaching identity I employed a case-based inductive approach that utilized various methods associated with narrative inquiry traditions. Methods employed allowed for a tripartite focus on the social, personal and action dimensions and included collection of data from interviews, observations, various written work, and conversations. Data analysis relied on various approaches that were seamed together to construct a narrative and a model of negotiation of teaching identity. Findings include a description of participants’ varied ways of negotiating teaching identity. These negotiations are discussed in relation to the development of core teaching identity. Additionally, science-specific and middle grades specific negotiation of teaching identity is explored. Ultimately, implications for teacher education are discussed.
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