This informal CPD article, ‘The Changing Landscape of a Teacher’s Professional Identity‘, was provided by Augment London, who equip aspirational students aged 13-18 years with the competencies, skills and attitudes they need for future success.
A teacher's professionalism can be defined as a combination of personal and professional self. Professional identity, in general, is defined as "the attitudes, values, knowledge, beliefs, and skills shared with others within a professional group and related to an individual's professional role."
The landscape of professionalism has changed over time. Professions have become more diverse. As a result of new policies and experiences, many teaching professionals have shifted their identities from teacher to educationist. Some teachers want to leave the workplace's 'routine monotony and control' and pursue a 'contemporary career,' which they can do by updating their skills and work profile in a changing job market. Fenwick referred to this in his 2003 study as a 'lifelong personal human resource project.'
Also, a teacher's identity evolves when the soul of the teacher clashes with changes in teaching reform mechanisms, which may result in changes in professional identities. From a certain perspective, this ‘neoliberal’ trend has elevated the teacher's role, resulting in an 'audit culture' that has potentially eroded teachers' autonomy.
Furthermore, professional identity has been fluid not only because of a teacher's inner self and others but a variety of other influences, particularly globalisation. Moreover, gaining experience and using positive reflection transformed a teacher's professional identity, assisting in the readjustment of 'future action' into the post-professional stage. As a result, the shape of a teacher's professional identity changes.
Professional Identity Changes
Societal changes, educational expectations, and professional identities all have a strong relationship. At the macro level, internationalisation broadened the work narrative. Professionals have begun to explore other education roles in response to the global economic shift and the emergence of niche markets. On the other hand, the publication of the OECD report Teacher Matters - Attracting, Developing, and Retaining Teachers on changes in the teaching profession globally has made the role of a teacher more complex, as the expectations of a teacher to be sensitive to cultural, social, and political issues have altered many teachers' professional identities.
In this landscape, teachers are no longer viewed as the sole source of knowledge but rather as guides who empower students to take ownership of their learning. Teachers have been able to adapt to and embrace new teaching methods and technologies that promote student collaboration and critical thinking abilities due to this shift in professional identity. They are better able to prepare students for the challenges and opportunities that await them in the rapidly changing world into which they will graduate.
Teachers are guides who help students navigate their learning journeys in this new landscape, not just knowledge providers. They are cultivating critical thinking, problem-solving abilities, and adaptability to better prepare students for the challenges of a rapidly changing world. As a result, teachers are taking a more collaborative approach, looking for opportunities to collaborate with educators from different cultures and backgrounds to improve their teaching practices.
This global collaboration is broadening their professional identity and allowing them to contribute from various perspectives. In this environment, teachers are now imparting knowledge and guiding students in developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills. They encourage students to take ownership of their learning journeys and to adapt to the world's ever-changing demands. Teachers are taking on new roles and responsibilities to provide their students with a more dynamic and interactive learning environment.
To summarise, teachers' positive professional identities are evolving as their teaching experiences enable them to create a student-focused educational environment. On the one hand, certain ‘neoliberal’ values could have mildly threatened some teachers' professional identities. On the other hand, they have directed teachers to conduct more in-depth reflections and use them to make informed career decisions. So far, the timing of new updated policies and the benefits of collaboration due to education globalisation are shaping many teachers' long-term professional identities.
Finally, due to teaching students to be "self-directed learners" to keep up with learning in a changing world, many teachers' professional identities have shifted to that of a facilitator. This is the global teaching-learning landscape which continues to evolve.
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