Choosing to Teach

Working Paper Abstracts

Professionalizing teacher identity? The case of Jewish, Catholic, and urban schools

Eran Tamir
  • Abstract: In the past several decades there has been a push in the U.S. by policy makers, schools, and the teacher education community to improve the quality of teaching and establish a more rigorous set of standards that would help define the practice of teaching as a profession. This paper will draw on 27 interviews with graduates of three different teacher preparation programs who finished their third year in teaching. This paper examines how recent ideas of professionalism are reflected in the way teachers in Jewish, Catholic, and urban schools talk, think and discuss their practice. What does professionalism mean in these different contexts? How central/important is the school community and collaboration among teachers to teachers' sense of professionalism? And how teachers’ sense of professionalism is related to specialized knowledge of professionalism promoted by their teacher preparation programs. Understanding the interaction between teacher preparation, school context, and teachers' professional identity is particularly important in these three school sectors, which on average have been characterized by underfunded schools with high teacher attrition and weak professional development for beginning teachers.