Constructing A New Professional Identity: Career Change into Teaching

Apr. 21, 2010

This article was published in Teaching and Teacher Education, Vol. 26, Issue 3, Author(s): Judy Williams, “Constructing A New Professional Identity: Career Change into Teaching“, Pages 639-647, Copyright Elsevier (April 2010).

The presence of career change students in teacher education programs is neither new nor unusual. Despite this, there is a lack of research into the experiences of such people as student teachers.

This article examines the experiences of one career change student teacher, Michelle. Furthermore, the article explores the ways in which she constructed her new professional identity as a student teacher.

Using the theoretical framework of learning and identity within communities of practice developed by Lave and Wenger (1991) and the notion of career change student teachers as expert novices, Michelle's experiences are examined in detail to gain a greater understanding of how, as a career changer, she ‘became’ a student teacher.

The research on which this paper is based found that as a career change student, Michelle needed to reconcile her various identities in order to construct her new professional identity in the context of teacher education.

Findings were analysed and discussed with reference to Lave and Wenger’s (1991) framework of legitimate peripheral participation and Wenger’s (1998) communities of practice, and with recourse to the relevant literature.

Lave J. and Wenger E. Situated Learning - Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Wenger E. Communities of practice. Learning meaning and identity. Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Updated: Aug. 15, 2010