Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

Identity Formation of LBOTE Preservice Teachers during the Practicum: A Case Study in Australia in an Urban High School

Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

Identity Formation of LBOTE Preservice Teachers during the Practicum: A Case Study in Australia in an Urban High School

Article excerpt

The increase in the number of language background other than English (LBOTE) students entering teacher education in Australia offers a challenge for teacher educators (Cruickshank, Newell, & Cole, 2003; Fan & Le, 2009; Han, 2005; Premier & Miller, 2010). For many LBOTE preservice teachers, the practicum experience is seen as both professionally challenging and personally frustrating and often results in an erosion of confidence of teaching competence (Danyluk, 2013; M. H. Nguyen, 2014; Yoon, 2012). Teacher educators must understand and allow for the LBOTE preservice teachers' experience in Australian schools to assist in the development of a healthy teacher identity. Although several studies to date have examined the general experiences of LBOTE preservice teachers (Cruickshank et al., 2003; Fan & Le, 2009; M. H. Nguyen, 2014; Sawir, 2005), none have specifically examined the impact of teaching practice on identiy formation. The development of teacher identity is a critically important component of the learning-to-teach process (Beauchamp & Thomas, 2009; Kanno & Stuart, 2011), directly linked to teacher performance and growth. Bullough (1997) has emphasized that "teacher identity, the beginning teacher's beliefs about teaching, learning and self-as-a-teacher, is a vital concern to teacher education as it is the basis for meaning making and decision making" (p. 21).

This study captures the experiences of LBOTE preservice teachers using a case study approach to explore identity development. Wenger's (2000) "modes of belonging" form the theoretical framework to develop an understanding of the factors contributing to teacher identity. This article draws on in-depth interviews of two participants. The discussion of the findings aims to contribute to a further understanding of the formation of LBOTE preservice teacher identity within the Australian experience. More specifically, the study aims to answer the following research questions:

1. How does the LBOTE preservice teacher develop his or her teacher identity?

2. What factors affect the quality of this identity formation during the professional experience with reference to Wenger's matrix?

LBOTE Preservice Teacher Identity

A complex issue in the determination of teacher identity exists around the interrelationship between identity and the notion of self. Beauchamp and Thomas (2009) referred to this as understanding self within the outside context, such as a classroom or school. Thus the LBOTE preservice teacher's identity is "shaped and reshaped in interaction with others in a professional teaching context" (p. 178). It is during the practicum experience that the LBOTE preservice teacher's identity and teacher agency are continually influenced by ongoing engagement in the structural and cultural features of a school (Datnow, Hubbard, & Mehen, 2002). Lauriala and Kukkone's (2005) model of identity views the notion of "self" as composed of three personal dimensions: the actual self, the ought self, and the ideal self. The dynamic interactions among the different selves are useful in helping us to think about the identity development of the LBOTE preservice teacher. It is during the practicum experience that this connection between the personal dimension of self (linked to culture and background) and the professional self (preservice teaching) becomes important in teacher identity development.

The practicum experience, which provides the opportunity to link theory to practice within the school context, is based on a standard model for all preservice teachers. However, the standardization of mentoring assumes that "one size fits all," when it is clear that different capabilities may be exhibited by the LBOTE preservice teachers. Cultural and contextual factors may explain different responses in dialogue: directness or lack of directness in conversation (Fitch & Saunders, 1994; Strong & Baron, 2004). …

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