Constituting the Identity of an Elementary School Teacher in the 21st Century World of Teaching and Learning

M. Wangeci Gatimu, Mary Mangan Reynolds

Abstract


The study uses teacher identity as a lens to explore how teachers make sense of their work and constitute
professional identities in the often complex world of teaching and learning. Three teachers who completed the
same teacher preparation program and taught in the same school district were observed and interviewed for the
study in 2009-2010. A multiple case methodology was used to explore the question: How do teachers who go
through the same teacher preparation program and teach in the same school district constitute their professional
identities?
Findings indicate that school and district mandates have a strong influence in shaping teacher identities because
these mandates appeared to either limit or distract teacher reflective practices. It was found that teachers caught
up in the logic of the mandated curricular and assessments were less likely to use constructivist frameworks to
understand student perspectives or to connect with the lived experiences of their students. On the other hand, it
was found if a teacher was engaged in critical inquiry about teaching and learning, that teacher was likely to use
multiple assessment strategies to understand students, and was likely to engage student learning through
open-ended, classroom conversations.
We concluded that since a teacher is the single most important factor affecting student achievement, school
districts should be forums for continuous teacher learning. The goal for such learning should be to create
adaptive experts or – teachers who continually expand the breadth and depth of their expertise. Additionally,
such learning should be both practice –centered and inquiry oriented.

Full Text: PDF DOI: 10.5539/jel.v2n4p154

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Journal of Education and Learning   ISSN 1927-5250 (Print)   ISSN 1927-5269 (Online)

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