Embracing Institutional Authority: The Emerging Identity of a Novice Teacher Educator

Feb. 20, 2014

Source: Studying Teacher Education, Vol. 10, No. 1, 36–52, 2014
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article examines how various aspects of the first author's identity, i.e. natural, institutional, discursive, and affinity, intersected during his first semester as teacher educator.

The authors used self-study methodology to develop a deeper understanding of Joe’s emerging identity as a first-time teacher educator.
This self-study examined the experience of Joe as a novice teacher educator. Joe was a graduate assistant at Saint Louis University. He was assigned to Alex (co-author), a first-year assistant professor of social studies education.

Data were gathered from three sources. The first data source were six hour-long conversations with Alex, who served as a critical friend during the self-study.
The second source of data included 12 reflective journals that served to capture Joe’s weekly thoughts after teaching each course. The third data source included documents related to the course, such as the syllabus, handouts, and evaluations of practice.


The experience of being a novice teacher educator is driven by the need to shape a new professional identity, balance the difficulties of academic pressures, and navigate this transition through learning by doing. This study contributes to the limited knowledge of the professional identity development of beginning teacher educators.

The authors suggest that the novice teacher educator must prioritize and become intentional about exploring his or her identity development. This exploration of identity development includes the insecurities associated with this new identity, and working to better understand how the authority of the teacher educator is reinforced, and negotiated in the university classroom. The experience of the novice teacher educator revealed that his preoccupation with students’ perceptions of who he was as a teacher and as an individual prevented any substantial consideration of the kind of teacher educator he wanted to be. Given the insecurities often tied to this new professional identity, the authors argue that it is important to consider and negotiate the pedagogical and professional development of first-time teacher educators.

The authors say that feelings of insecurity often promote the desire to maintain confidence by relying on one’s own classroom experiences, rather than creating a new professional identity in teacher education. Furthermore, the beginning teacher educators are often forced to learn by doing. Given feelings of insecurities and the potential ineffectiveness that could result, this process of learning by doing often does not foster a needed sense of community.

The authors believe that an emphasis on community should be promoted in order to enhance the possibilities of teacher education. They say that novice teacher educators should be surrounded by like-minded individuals who function as both critical friends and a supportive community. One’s identity development should not occur in isolation, but rather through communication and collaboration. A sense of community should be fostered to help facilitate and analyze the tensions of novice teacher educators.

Updated: Oct. 01, 2017