Aligning Professional and Personal Identities: Applying Core Reflection in Teacher Education Practice

Aug. 01, 2011
Source:Studying Teacher Education, Vol. 7, No. 2, August 2011, 109–119
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The goal of this study was to examine the impact of core reflection on the authors' professional lives and practices as teacher educators.

Two questions guided this research:
(1) What insights and challenges emerge through attempts to implement core reflection principles in their work?
(2) What changes occur in their teaching practices and relationships with colleagues, students, and each other?

The three-year self-study collaboration began in May 2007 when we agreed to meet regularly in order to deepen then authors' understanding and application of core reflection in their lives and work.

Analyzing their Core Identities
Conscious Restructuring of their Teacher Educator Identities
The authors outline five categories of change in their teaching identities and practice.

1. From Subject-Centered toward Person-Centered Relationships :
As a result of this shift in perspective, the authors found themselves focusing more intentionally on making deeper contact with students through interactions that foster core levels of communication.
Additionally, they realized that a heightened level of community building occurred when they focused on the individual strengths of our students.

2. From Focus on Product toward Focus on Process :
Products are still an important part of student assessment, but the significance of the processes the authors employ as teachers has become even clearer to them.
The authors' use of core reflection with their students has provided them with a vehicle to better discern and understand their students’ lives, needs, and passions.

3. From Thinking and Doing toward Integrating Thinking, Feeling, Doing, and Wanting :
One strategy the authors employed to help students integrate their thoughts, feelings, and ideals involved guided coaching activities.
With peer partners, students identified areas in which they experienced conflict or tension between their growing awareness of themselves and their emerging identities as teachers. The same strategy the authors employed in their self-study to align their identities as people with their identities as teacher educators became a feature of their classroom teaching.

4. From Seeking Answers toward Holding Ambiguity :
Changing awareness about the authors' capacity for managing their and others’ struggles altered some of their ways of knowing and meeting their students.
The authors questioned their well-intended impulses to provide the right answers or solutions for students by embracing the state of ambiguity as another priority to foster in themselves.

5. From Role/Identity Orientation toward Core Orientation :
The process of this study deepened the authors' awareness of the influence their core qualities had on their evolving and emergent identities as teacher educators.
This resulted in strengthening their understanding of what it means to teach who they are.

The shifts in the authors' understanding of who they are as teacher educators have resulted in several significant implications for the decisions they make in their work with students.
In their curriculum, class assignments are less task-oriented and more holistically focused on student growth.
They allow students more time to explore their inner lives as future teachers through selected readings, more class time to discuss their personal development, and more opportunities to integrate their individual strengths into assignments.

The authors conclude that in applying their own process of growth from this study, they seek to foster the trusting relationships and core connections in their teaching where students can realize and understand their emerging identities as teacher and self.

The data revealed the intersection of the authors' core and professional identities in new and deeper ways.
Updated: Jan. 12, 2014