Composing Professional Learning and Becoming: An Analysis of Beginning English Teachers’ Stories in Indonesia

Year: 2021

Author: Karlina, Yeni

Type of paper: Individual Paper

The Indonesian government’s current reform of pre-service teacher education requires prospective teachers to participate in a one-year post-baccalaureate professional teacher education program (PPG). This new PPG program follows standards-based reforms across the world in framing teacher professionalism in terms of pre-catalogued teacher competencies, which are measurable through quantifiable and supposedly objective data. The current research aims to explore how beginning English teachers in Indonesia who have completed the PPG program understand their professional learning experiences in the program and the influence of these experiences on their professional identity development. Using narrative-based methodologies, the research critically enquires into the stories of three PPG program graduates who are currently teaching English in three different schools in Indonesia. These stories were generated through three main narrative events: in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, and narrative writing. To analyse these narratives, I employed Bakhtinian concepts of the dialogic nature of language and ideological becoming as the lenses to theorise teacher professional learning and identity formation as a gradual process of “becoming”, laden with tensions in negotiating various viewpoints, histories, and discourses. Bakhtin’s characterisation of authoritative discourses and internally persuasive discourses is particularly useful to identify various discourses affecting these teachers’ ways of talking and thinking about their professional learning experiences and their teacher identity.The analysis revealed that these early-career teachers understood their PPG program as often endorsing certain authoritative discourses about teaching and teacher professionalism. Their ‘PPG stories’ intermingled with ones from their biography and school practices and contexts, allowing them to negotiate compliance pressures and tensions in their everyday classroom practices and professional learning. These teachers actively took up and engaged with various discourses about English language learning, teaching, schooling, and teacher professionalism. Their engagement, however, has had a different texture for each individual, depending on a host of factors, including their biographies and school contexts. Analysing stories of early-career English teachers negotiating and experiencing a standardised professional learning program like the PPG program is valuable to consider the ways teacher professional learning may be facilitated in order for it to be meaningful for the professional becoming of beginning English teachers in Indonesia.