HOW ESOL TEACHER CANDIDATES CONSTRUCT THEIR TEACHER IDENTITIES: A CASE STUDY OF AN MATESOL PROGRAM
Peercy, Megan M
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This study examined the contributions of teacher education courses and the teaching practicum to three ESOL teacher candidates' (TCs) teacher identity construction in a thirteen month intensive MATESOL program (IMP). This study was conceptually based on sociocultural understanding of second language (L2) teacher learning and knowledge base and it conceived identity as intertwined with teacher learning, teacher cognition, participation in communities of practice, teaching contexts, teacher biographies, and teacher emotions. Theoretically, this study relied on Wenger's (1998) conceptualization of identity development which foregrounds individuals' self-identification and negotiation as they seek access and membership to professional communities and participate in their activities. This study defined teacher identity as teachers' dynamic, constantly evolving self-conception and imagination of themselves as teachers. Data collection efforts included two rounds of in-depth individual interviews with the TCs, observations of the classes they taught in their school-based practicum and their teacher education classes, and analysis of their artifacts (e.g., reflection papers, online discussions). Through their teacher education courses, the three TCs engaged in teacher identity negotiation and construction as they were afforded opportunities to take on an ESOL teacher perspective, their professors and peers valued their teaching practicum experiences in public school context, and the TCs had professional interactions with their peers in the social spaces of teacher education classes. Moreover, during their practicum experiences, their teacher identity development was supported through their mentors' sharing of power and ownership of students, having a designated work space in the school, and experiencing various emotional states in relation to their teaching. Lastly, coursework and practicum collectively contributed to the TCs' teacher identity construction through guided reflection opportunities, exposure to professional language of ESOL, and opportunities to identify what is important for them in teaching English language learners. Implications include incorporating teacher identity development as an explicit and conscious goal in the activities of teacher education programs. This immersion necessitates creating safe spaces for personalized identity negotiation, focusing on TCs' prior conceptions and dispositions, training mentor teachers to support TCs' identity formation, paying attention to TCs' emotional experiences, enhancing guided reflective practices, and supporting beginning teachers' induction into the profession.