Professional Identity

The journal article was called ‘Teachers telling tales: the narrative mediation of professional identity’ and it was presented by the author, Julian Williams. It considered the biographical narrative of two successful maths teachers who had different approaches to teaching college students (16-19 year olds). John described himself as ‘traditional’ and Sally described herself as ‘connectionist’. John’s focus was to get the students working, to make sure they could answer the maths questions and pass the exam. Sally’s approach was for them to understand the concepts, how to solve problems and then use this knowledge to tackle each question – she always encouraged students to find their own solutions; even if there was a quicker way, she wanted them to understand the ‘why’.

The group had a lively discussion on a variety of topics including whether the kind of teacher they were was as a result of the type of learner they were; how their teaching approach affected student engagement; which teaching approach at college better prepared students for higher education; and teachers needing to understand their learners in order to teach them.

The take home messages from the participants of the journal club at the end of the session were as follows:

  • Interesting to consider the two extremes and reflect on your own professional identity
  • Consider narrative identity and reflection and what that brings to the table.
  • Professional identity is never fully formed – you never stop learning
  • Will consider my own professional identity and constructing my story within my own research and qualitative work and will read the other papers
  • You cannot always trust the narrative, it’s personal and reflective continually
  • As a statistician we think ourselves as gate keepers of integrity – there is no truth, people tell their story to a specific audience, how they tell the story and how it influences themselves is interesting to bear in mind
  • How I teach is likely to impact others – I might be their hero or anti hero, but I will be influencing them
  • Students are telling themselves a story about who they are and what their profession is
  • Am I a good student for my students – I need to think that through. Also need to think about colleagues – their stories and motivations (particularly in role as unit coordinator).

Continue the conversation through our Yammer Pedagogy Journal Club.