How Reasons for Entry into the Profession Illuminate Teacher Identity DevelopmentReport as inadecuate

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Teacher Education Quarterly, v35 n3 p23-40 Sum 2008

As teacher educators better understand the recurved, holistic, and often deeply embedded ways in which teachers learn, they can better support meaningful professional preparation that serves teachers' careers, the students they teach, and the profession of teaching as a whole. This article uses the ecologically minded "teacher identity" as a useful analytic for understanding beginning teacher development. The author is guided by a view of teacher development as a continuum rather than discrete, linear parts. That is to say that teacher recruitment, preservice preparation, inservice professional development, and teacher retention may be chronologically sequenced but, epistemologically, they are intertwined and continually loop back and forth to influence each other in mutually constitutive ways. Teacher development is circular even as it is also forward-moving: a teacher is always collapsing the past, present, and future into a complex melange of professional beliefs, goals, memories, and predictions while enacting practice. This article, then, considers how teachers rely on embedded understandings "of" and "for" themselves as teachers, which derive from personal and prior experiences as well as professional and current ones. These embedded understandings shape how teachers interpret, evaluate, and continuously collaborate in the construction of their own early development. Drawing on data collected from six first-year teachers from the same California university teacher education program, the article examines how multiple components of a teacher's professional identity mediate one another as each becomes intertwined within (and organized around) the teacher's understandings of teaching, teacher practices, and career plans. To present this analysis, the author focuses on ways a teacher's "reasons for entering" the profession illuminate teacher identity and influence teacher development. (Contains 1 table, 1 diagram and 6 notes.)

Descriptors: Teacher Persistence, Beginning Teachers, Work Attitudes, Student Educational Objectives, Professional Development, Teacher Characteristics, Concept Mapping, English Teachers, Secondary School Teachers, Interviews, Teacher Attitudes, Teaching Experience, Teacher Background

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Author: Olsen, Brad


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