Examining the decisional capital in shaping teacher professional identity

Abstract:
Professional identity has profound influence on a teacher's sense of purpose, self-efficacy, motivation, commitment, as well as effectiveness. Efforts to encourage a contextually relevant teacher professional identity in Singapore took shape in the concerted efforts by state agencies in defining frameworks and strategies from the top. The Singapore teacher's identity is articulated in the Ethos of Teaching Profession which serves to guide and inspire present and future generations of educators towards a desired professional identity. Pertaining to efforts in the realization of the Ethos through a teacher-led culture, the Teacher Growth Model (TGM) was developed as a representation of the core areas for a contextualized professional growth and development of Singapore's teachers. It takes into account the different facets of the Ethos and is designed to help Singapore's teachers grow professionally by providing a road map of the five directions in which teacher professional development ought to gravitate: (1) Ethical Educator; (2) Competent Professional; (3) Community Builder; (4) Collaborative Learner; and (5) Transformational Leader. Singapore teachers are supported by clearly articulated visions to professional growth and generously funded for their professional development towards these endeavours. However, these well-intended efforts may do little in advancing teacher decisional capital if the critical mass of teachers is unable to lead in shaping their own growth model. Decisional capital denotes the level of competency in reflective practice, with the view of deepening teaching and learning through the iterative critique of professional identity. By deepen learning, we refer to the meta-analysis of ideas, experiences, logical connections, relational networks, and contexts, with the view of meaning-making as a community, such that informed choices can be made in respect to the courses of action that will enhance intellectual growth, values, and attitudes. We are interested in understanding how teachers' sense-making of their professional roles contribute to the decisional capital of Singapore teachers and beliefs about the fraternity's agency to take initiative and to effect changes in their work. Our study involves 103 teachers who participated in online forum and also focus group discussions. This paper aims to map the Singapore Teacher's professional identity through the way teachers in Singapore exercise decisional capital in the sense-making and interpretation of transformational leader of the TGM. Our analysis emerged the conditions, level/ depth, process, ways that decisional capital is exercised and challenges faced by teachers. Implications of these themes will be discussed in relation to practice and policy. +

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