Teacher Educator Identity Development of the Nontraditional Teacher Educator

May. 15, 2014

Source: Studying Teacher Education, Vol. 10, No. 2, 163–178, 2014
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This auto-ethnography focuses on the process of developing a teacher educator identity for the new teacher educator whose career path did not begin in the PreK-12 setting.
By examining her own experience the author explores the tensions and difficulties that beset new nontraditional faculty of teacher education and compare them to those of traditional teacher educators.

The author is a faculty member in the Department of Teacher Education in a large private religious university.
This phenomenological study developed from an assignment the author created for her graduate class of in-service teachers.
The author participated fully in this assignment and it enabled her to examine her identity formation as a teacher educator.
Along with the students, the author shared her personal history at the beginning of the semester and again, with revisions, at the end of the 14-week class. Just as she had asked the students to do, she began by selecting a series of images or phrases to represent her personal history in her progression to becoming a teacher educator.
Having personally completed this assignment in self-reflection, she decided to explore her understanding of the development of her own identity as a teacher educator through auto-ethnographical research with the data she had created in the course assignment.


The author demonstrated that there is a difference between the traditional and nontraditional teacher educator in regards to identity development. For traditional teacher educators, personal biography, experience in institutional contexts and the development of personal pedagogy support their ideals and foster their identity. The lived experience of those factors, in addition to the greater efforts needed to gain legitimacy, require that nontraditional teacher educators negotiate their roles differently, affecting their identity development. The resistance to, investigation of, and hesitation to join the profession as opposed to imagining oneself as a teacher may delay the uptake of identity.

The institutional context may help traditional teachers become teachers, but for me it only initiated critical investigation and led to imitation of teacher ideals. Likewise, for traditional teacher educators personal pedagogy facilitated both becoming and being in terms of teacher educator identity.
In the end, personal and professional biography, institutional context, and personal pedagogy continue to influence the author's identity development as she progresses in her profession. Meanwhile, she continues to seek membership and belonging through participating in teaching acts without enjoying the benefits of legitimate membership that is granted only through acceptance by the community.

As teacher educators, whether we felt called to the profession or initially resisted it, we have to work together to build a community in which to prepare future teachers. Our identity as teacher educators has implications for how we take up the many roles required of the profession. In this era of teacher blame and high-stakes accountability, knowing ourselves as professionals and supporting each other in the education community are vital to our growth and productivity.

Updated: Dec. 20, 2016