top-rated free essay

book review:teacher identity discourses

By Rui-Liang Apr 27, 2014 769 Words
Book Review
Rui Liang

“Teachers are, above all, people.” This sentence condenses the essence of this book—Teacher Identity Discourse: Negotiating Personal and Profession Space, by Janet Alsup. Teachers we know in class are usually professional and respectable. However, teachers are humans who have their own feelings and thoughts as well. One’s personal identity may not always works well with his or her professional identity as a teacher. In the book, Alsup indicates that the path one takes to become a teacher is a process crowded with tension, negotiation, and sometimes failures. Becoming a “heroical” teacher is not simply learning “a new set of rules for behavior”. Instead, one has to learn how to integrate his or her personal and professional identities without compromising who he or she really is even though that may not fit into the culturally defined conceptions of what teachers “are” and “should be.” She challenges her audiences—pre-service teachers, teacher educators, mentors, and supervisors—to realize although it is generally accepted and true that teachers should be concerned with their students, new teachers must learn to “be more selfish and take care of themselves first, in order to take care of others”. She calls for teacher educators to take actions to facilitate pre-service teachers’ integration of personal and professional identities and beliefs in teacher identity formation by pointing out that such ideological integration is actually more complex than what is acknowledged in traditional methods class.

The study, which was triggered by Alsup’s own experience, was designed to investigate her hypothesis about the centrality of forming a workable teacher identity—one that not only respects the individual’s personal ideologies but also functions well within the professional arena, giving the answer to her questions asked in the first Chapter that what teacher educators could do to promote their teacher students’ personal and professional identity integration in a methods course and how instructors or mentors could help their teacher students engage in transformative identity discourse. Alsup followed six pre-service English education students for two years as they stepped into their profession of a teacher. The six participants were required to tell many experiential stories of teaching and learning for Alsup believes that telling stories allows reflection on these experiences. Alsup claims more than once in the book that experience by itself is not inherently useful; it is helpful only if it is subject to critical reflection. Therefore, these reflections will affect new teachers’ developing teaching lives and future pedagogical decisions. Alsup thematically coded and analyzed these narratives with an effort to explore what effects these narratives have on the pre-service teachers’ current educational philosophies and pedagogical choices. At the same time, the central concept in this book—borderland discourses, which Alsup borrowed from Gee (1999) and Anzaldúa (1987), emerged. It can be understood as the “intersection of personal and professional identities”, reflecting the pre-service teachers’ attempts to bridge multiple subjectivities, including the intellectual, the corporeal and the affective aspects of human selfhood. It leads to “identity growth” by helping the pre-service teachers fill the gaps between multiple senses of selves. She takes those pre-service teachers who decided to become a teacher immediately after graduation as successfully form a teacher identity while those who didn’t as fail to make the transition. By comparing the amount of the borderland discourses the participants engaged in and their final development, Alsup made the conclusion that those who were able to negotiate the borderland were also able, with proper assistance, to construct a holistic professional identity, which is not confined within the rigid cultural model of teacher but will make decisions based on student needs.

Specific suggestions are also provided by Alsup in the book for teacher educators to incorporate into their teacher education methods class for the purpose of fostering the professional identity development of pre-service teacher. Alsup offers the teacher educators with classroom tools that can encourage the pre-service teachers to critically examine their ideologies and personal pedagogies, including a visual metaphor project and a more reflexive “philosophy statement” assignment instead of the traditional one that often serves to solidify unexamined positions. These tools could easily be used and revised to fit into every specific context. However, this is not sufficient enough to deal with every situation that might happen to the pre-service teachers. Not to mention the risk it takes to oversimplify the problems. But we have to admit that the combination of theoretical and practical insights of this book does offer not only the teacher educators but also the beginning and struggling teachers a direction to head towards in order to develop a satisfying teacher identity.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • Identity

    ...Do you Choose your Identity or is it Chosen for you? Can people choose their identity and if so how much of our identity do we choose? For the aspects we don’t choose how did they come to form part of our identity? How much of our identity is a non-changeable permanent part of ourselves, and how much has been cast over us like a cloak via e...

    Read More
  • Identity

    ...Identities: Evelyn Grooten Evelyn Grooten uses numerous authors to define what identity is. She discusses the different aspects of what each author has to say based on their theories of identity. Many definitions of identity have been written in highly abstract philosophical, psychological, and sociological discourses (19). The reader must firs...

    Read More
  • Identity

    ...5Using material from item 1 and elsewhere, assess the view that social class is no longer a significant factor in shaping social identity Within sociology the term social class defines a system of stratification found in modern industrial societies consisting of 3 broad groups: upper class, middle class and working class. The upper class inc...

    Read More
  • Identity

    ...Identity refers to the construction of individual and society's characteristics by which we are symbolized and recognised as to who we are. In this assignment I intend to explore the meaning of identity. In considering the link between personal and social, I will examine the process of identity formation, and discuss the extent in which we are a...

    Read More
  • Book Review: Double Identity

    ...Double Identity Name: Jasmine Moss Date: 1/16/09 Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix Introduction The book I read is a science fiction book called double identity. The book was written by Margaret Peterson Haddix. The book has two main characters are Bethany Cole, Joss Wilker, Walter Krull, Aunt Myrile. Sum...

    Read More
  • Identity

    ...Fidelity: Identity vs. Role Confusion (Adolescence, 13-19 years)[edit source | editbeta] Existential Question: Who Am I and What Can I Be? The adolescent is newly concerned with how they appear to others. Superego identity is the accrued confidence that the outer sameness and continuity prepared in the future are matched by the sameness and ...

    Read More
  • Identity

    ...How do you believe Identity is formed? Identity cannot be formed and defined in one category; it is defined in many ways. Our Identity is formed by our race, culture, language, belief and environment. Sarah Morris described,” Every thing around what and us shapes who we became we believe about other and ourselves.” (1) In the book Why a...

    Read More
  • Harry Potter and the Gender Identity Discourse

    ...Harry Potter and the Gender Identification Discourse. The Harry Potter series is arguably the most successful work of literature in the postmodern era (in terms of financial success and mainstream pop culture recognition). To talk about the movies, one has to include the books on which it has been based. Also, the movies do not include the de...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.