Thursday, April 26, 2007

Teacher Identity

Constructing Teacher Identity in the Basic Writing Classroom has been, for me, the most compelling article of the semester. Not only would I of course be interested in the subject of the teacher, but I was deeply impressed with Taylor's ability to assess herself as a teacher. And even more than this, I was surprised and moved that many of the terms she used to describe herself on her journey through Graduate Student teaching sounded an awful lot like those the students of basic writing used to define themselves. This essay drew me in because I could relate to Taylor's writing more than I could to a well-known name in the field like Mike Rose or someone like that.

As far as Taylor's teacher identity journal entries I was struck, as mentioned before, by the honesty she expressed, even when she sounded like a BW student herself. For example she expresses a transition she went through as follows: "Sometimes I felt like I lost a little bit of myself" (219) This is very similar to the process basic writers go through of assimilation. In theory, one must lost a part of the "outsider self" to become a member of the new community. The process for Taylor ran it's course and she was able to replace the part she had lost; "a questioning, engaged and often troubled teacher." (220) This is the journey of the BW student as well. She makes it clear, that through her journal entries and earnest mindfulness of who she is becoming as an educator, that she too is on a search for her academic identity. "This article suggests, then, that teachers might benefit from taking into account ways to engage in dialogue with students about how they are seeing us and not just about how we are seeing them." (227)

Ed. Halasek, Kay and Highberg, Nels P. Landmark Essays on Basic Writing. Mahway: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc, 2001.


TW said...

This one was one of my favorites as well. As I said in class, the idea of the teacher as "reflective practioner" was really stressed in my undergrad work in education. I enjoyed the journal entires as a sort of window into her self-questioning and reflection.

Gabe Isackson said...

"If this article was an animal, what would it be?" I leave that to TW - I kept thinking of personal experiences while reading this article - students labeled and all the baggage and judgments we bring into a classroom. There is no such thing as a blank slate, and yet every new class should allow a new, fresh slate, where just the title of the class might prevent it.

TW said...

I'm not a scientist, but it's gotta belong to the Didelphimorphia order, Gabe! Check it out!

Reader1 said...

TW- You're such a nerd! ;)
And Gabe - It's a zebra, remember?