Choosing to Teach

Working Paper Abstracts

Identity Formation in Teacher Education: A Comparative Study
Sharon Feiman-Nemser

  • Abstract: Identity formation is a central task in professional education, but we know relatively little about how this process unfolds in teacher education and what teacher educators do intentionally to support it. This paper looks at the work of identity formation as it is fostered in three teacher education programs in the U.S. each of which prepares teachers for a particular school context. The DeLeT program at Brandeis University prepares teachers for Jewish day schools. The UTEP program at the University of Chicago prepares teachers for urban public schools. The ACE program at the University of Notre Dame prepares teachers for Catholic schools. Based on interviews with program leaders and an analysis of program documents, including course syllabi, this paper examines the structure, content and pedagogy of core program components explicitly designated as sites for identity work. The purpose of this inquiry is to learn more about what context-specific teacher education programs do to shape the professional and religious/cultural identities of beginning teachers. Ultimately we want to understand what and how identity formation in teacher education influences teachers' practice and career commitments.