Reconstruction of teacher identity: responding to the curriculum reform

Year: 2012

Author: Rong, Xiaoyan

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Educational reforms have been widely discussed across the world in the 21st century. Recent research on educational reforms suggests that teachers are the mediating agents in implementing educational reforms, particularly curriculum reforms. At the same time, various researches show that teachers are facing great challenges in the process of implementing a new curriculum, among which the changes and reconstruction of their teacher identity stand out as a major issue.

In eastern countries like China, where Confucianism has immensely impacted the philosophy of teaching and learning, teachers are endowed with great authority and respect over students; however, the eighth curriculum reform in China, which requires the paradigm shift from the teacher-dominated, knowledge-based transmission mode of teaching to the student-centered, experience-based enquiry mode of teaching, has greatly challenged teachers. Aiming at exploring how teachers change and reconstruct teacher identity through the process of curriculum implementation within the particular social, cultural and institutional context, the current study collects data from six Chinese senior high EFL teachers with different teaching experiences and background, providing a diversity in teachers' response. Drawing on the qualitative data collected through interviews with teachers and students, and observations of classroom teaching, the presentation will report how teachers perceive the change of their teacher identity in their teacher community, how they reshape the interpersonal relationship within the community, and how the changes effect their professional development. Drawing on the sociocultural theory, the study finds out that teachers endure identity conflicts and crisis during the process of curriculum implementation, due to which they have to reconstruct their identity in the community, deal with the complex power relationship, and struggle between the authoritative figures their experiences contribute and the loss of their absolute authority brought by the new curriculum. It is hoped that this study can provide insights into the dynamic nature of teacher identity construction, especially for teachers in countries that are also in the process of implementing a reform-based curriculum in their contexts.