Teacher Identity (Re)Construction within Professional Learning Communities: The Role of Emotions and Tensions

Teacher Identity (Re)Construction within Professional Learning Communities: The Role of Emotions and Tensions

Pinar Kocabas Gedik (Yildiz Technical University, Turkey) and Deniz Ortactepe (Bilkent University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1747-4.ch005
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The research on teacher professional identity mostly focused on the process of teacher professional identity formation, the characteristics of teacher professional identity according to the teachers themselves as well as the researchers, and the representation of professional identity through teacher narratives in written and spoken discourse (Beijaard et al., 2004). However, there is much to explore in teachers' tensions and emotions regarding the issues between teacher cognition, and personal and professional sides of teacher identity (Day & Leitch, 2001). In this chapter, we have reviewed the literature on teacher professional identity in relation to communities of practice, imagined identity, and imagined communities. Various definitions of emotions and tensions as well as their roles in teacher professional identity construction have been presented and relevant studies on teacher identity construction, emotions and tensions have been discussed.
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The Process Of Identity (Re)Construction

Identity has gained importance in many fields as an analytical tool to understand human-behaviors in general, and teaching and learning processes particularly in education. According to Gee (2000), the concept of identity refers to “being recognized as a certain kind of person in a given context” (p. 1). Thus, identity should be evaluated in relation to particular contexts rather than described through fixed attributes such as gender, race and social group. Li (2011) emphasizes the role of context in identity construction as it “reflects how individuals see themselves and how they enact their roles within different settings” (p. 5). Adams and Marshall (1996) also state that interactions with the other members in one context have an impact on the understanding of identity, thus each context creates its own impact on identity construction.

Based on the perception of identity as a fluid and unstable construct depended on context and shaped by interaction with others, identity (re)construction is seen as a dynamic process changing from one context to another, and even leading individuals to develop more than one identity in one particular context (Danielewicz, 2001; Gee, 2000). Bullough (2005) also highlights that “identity formation is not a passive but a dynamic affair, that involves a giving and a withholding which simultaneously alters oneself and one’s context, with the result that alternative identities may form” (p. 146). Gee (2000) presents these multiple, but interrelated identities as follows.

Table 1.
Four ways to view identity
ProcessPowerSource of Power
a state
developedfrom forcesin nature
a position
authorizedby authoritieswithin institutions
an individual
recognized inthe discourse/
of/with “rational” individuals
shared inthe practiceof “affinity groups”

(Adopted from Gee, 2000, p. 3)

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