How Reasons for Entry into the Profession Illuminate Teacher Identity Development

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That which sings and contemplates in you is still dwelling within the bounds of that first moment which scattered stars into space…. Yet if in your thought you must measure time into seasons, let each season encircle all other seasons, And let today embrace the past with remembrance and the future with longing —Kahlil Gibran, 1923 As teacher educators better understand the recurved, holistic, and often deeply embedded ways in which teachers learn, they can better support meaningful pro-fessional preparation that serves teachers' careers, the students they teach, and the profession of teaching as a whole. teacher identity as a useful analytic for understand-ing beginning teacher development. I am guided by a view of teacher development as a continuum rather than discrete, linear parts. That is to say that teacher recruitment, preservice preparation, inservice profes-sional development, and teacher retention may be chronologically sequenced but, epistemologically, Reasons for Entry into the Profession 24 they are intertwined and continually loop back and forth to influence each other in mutually constitutive ways. Teacher development is circular even as it is also forward-moving: a teacher is always collapsing the past, present, and future into a complex mélange of professional beliefs, goals, memories, and predictions while enacting practice. This article, then, considers how teachers rely on embedded understandings of and for themselves as teachers, which derive from personal and prior experiences as well as professional and current ones. These embedded understandings shape how teachers interpret, evaluate, and continuously collaborate in the construction of their own early development. Drawing on data collected from six first-year teachers from the same California university teacher education program, the article examines how multiple components of a teacher's professional identity mediate one another as each becomes intertwined within (and organized around) the teacher's understandings of teaching, teacher practices, and career plans. To present this analysis, I focus on ways a teacher's reasons for entering the profession illuminate teacher identity and influence teacher development.

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  • Brad Olsen

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