Teacher attrition rates are high in urban schools, particularly for new science teachers.
Little research has addressed how science teachers can be prepared to effectively bridge the divide between preparation and urban teaching.
The authors utilized the theoretical frameworks of social justice, identity, and structure‐agency to investigate this transition.
Specifically, they examined the Urban Science Teacher Preparation (USTP) program as a critical case of “well‐prepared” urban science teachers.
Study participants included one cohort of four teachers.
Data, primarily from individual interviews, a focus group, and written reflections, were collected from participants during pre‐service preparation and their first year of teaching.
The USTP program nurtured the development of a professional identity aligned with teaching science for social justice, with a unique emphasis on identifying structural injustices in schools.
Findings indicate all four teachers used their identities to negotiate school policies and procedures that restricted student opportunities to learn science through three processes: deconstructing the context, positioning themselves within and against the context, and enacting their identities.
These findings suggest the importance of USTP programs to provide teacher candidates with political clarity for teaching for social justice and sustained induction support to resist school socialization pressures.