What’s Your Professional Identity?

2014 International Research Conference

Dr. Jodi Nickel is chair in the Department of Education at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. You can watch a video about the project she details below. She will be sharing this research at the Kappa Delta Pi conference, October 2-4, 2014.

As a teacher educator, I am always curious about my teacher candidates’ experiences of dissonance as they develop their professional identity. My research studies teacher candidates who are beginning to find themselves as teachers – to resolve the tensions between the teachers they aspire to be and the challenges that threaten those aspirations.

nickel_jodiI want to share a story with you that might seem familiar.

Tyrell had the sweetest smile and a lovely singsong voice as he cheerfully bounced into his first-grade classroom. Along with his classmates, he applauded when it was time for Writer’s Workshop and happily filled reams of booklets with drawings and stories. The only problem was, Tyrell seldom got to the writing part.

I would crouch beside his desk as he shared his stories with me and urge, “Tyrell, let’s try to write some of the words for your story.” He indulged me while I guided him to stretch out the words and write the letter sounds he heard but returned to creating his wordless books as soon as I moved on.

How could I help him?

The next day, I decided to hand out phonics worksheets in lieu of Workshop. My students asked, “Don’t we get to do Writer’s Workshop?” “Today we’re going to work on some ‘sh’ words,” I replied. The energy was swiftly sucked out of the room.

So why did I resort to phonics worksheets that might possibly achieve the latter goal but certainly crushed the former?

Korthagen (2013) suggests that teachers often experience such dissonance when they face a teaching challenge and respond in ways that run counter to the teachers they aspire to be. They may lack the competencies to respond more appropriately or they may fail to consider the beliefs that led them to choose that particular course of action.

In Tyrell’s case, perhaps I didn’t really believe he could grow as a writer unless I compelled him to practice phonics skills, but this didn’t match the vision I had for myself as a teacher.

Korthagen urges teachers to consider their identity – “Who am I in my work?” and mission – “What inspires me?”

177403572That will be the focus of my keynote speech at Learning, Leadership, and Practice: Educating Global Citizens, an international conference taking place Oct. 2-4 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

The conference, co-hosted by Kappa Delta Pi and Mount Royal University, will bring together education researchers and experts, teachers, administrators, and students who have theoretical and practical knowledge of the education of children and adults for global citizenship.

We’re hoping you’ll come and present your scholarly work, too! Proposals are currently being accepted for papers, presentations, and poster displays (June 30 deadline) and, if accepted, will be included in an online publication of the conference proceedings.

I hope you’ll consider learning more about this conference and submitting your proposal today. I’d love to share my research with you and hear your research discoveries, too. I look forward to meeting you in Calgary!

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