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CATESOL Book Review: Language Teacher Identity in TESOL, Teacher Education and Practice as Identity Work, Editors Bedrettin and Kristen Lindal

Michelle Skowbo

Language Teacher Identity in TESOL, Teacher Education and Practice as Identity Work, Editors Bedrettin and Kristen Lindal

Image of Language Teacher Identify in TESOL Teacher education and practice as identity work edited by Yazan and Kindahl Routledge

By Li-Yuan Liao, Chia-Ning Liu, Tingting Li, Qiong Wu and Kara Mac Donald 


By Kara Mac Donald

As the managing editor of the CATESOL Blog Monthly Book Review, under Michelle Skowbo as the editor, I have the custom to send out invitations to members and ELT/FLT educators to see if any of them would be interested in co-authoring an upcoming review for a selected book for upcoming slated reviews.

An ELT/SLA text of typical length got more interested responses than usual, and with no similar text slated for the remainder of the 2023 publication year, at that point in time, I accepted all those that were interested in writing a review for the book. It seemed crazy at first to have five authors for a 300-page publication, but after discussions it made perfect sense. Each interested author had an area of interest and/or personal affiliation.

Part One: Teacher Identity Work in Narrative and Writing 

Chapter 1: Repurposing Identity Reconstruction as Transformative Pedagogy: Multilingual Teachers in the US First-Year Composition Context
Cristina Sanchez-Martin 
With the increase in global mobility and the impact of displacement of large populations due to conflict and socio-economic issues, this has brought transnationalism to be a prominent phenomenon which calls for educators to move beyond previous categories and understanding of identity within language teaching. The author, Sanchez-Martin, frames the discussion with prominent work on poststructuralist and sociocultural understanding of identity, along with a transnational feminist perspective of identity. The study shared in this chapter explores how experiences influence the instructional practices of three multilingual first year writing teachers, framed by constructivist and ethnographic approaches to data collection and analysis. The discussion of the findings highlight that the lived experiences of these teachers greatly informed their educator identities and practices. There were three main areas highlighted: i) helping new newcomers through the use of multilingual and multimodal texts, ii) using cross-cultural text styles and effective writing feedback that attended to learners' needs, iii) engaging in conversations to examine language constructs and distinct perspectives. The chapter closes with implications for the teacher education training programs. The author highlights that the presence of conversation of language and identity in the classroom is greatly impacted by the students’ comfort level around which the teacher raises such discussions, as well as their own awareness of their own identity. As a result, teacher training programs need to be safe spaces to explore student teachers’ own identities through critical reflection and discussion.

Chapter 2: Writing Narratives, Shifting Identities: Developing Language Teacher Identity and Practice in Working with Students with Limited/Interrupted Formal Education
Jennifer A. Morrison, Laura McBride, and Alexis Gonzalez.
This chapter examines the role of autobiographical reflection as a form of narrative inquiry, as it explores experience through individuals’ account of experience as stories. The authors situate the increasing role of narrative inquiry in language teaching and learning research (LTLR) as it has been increasing its presence in the literature and explain how highly notable TESOL educators predicted its value and contribution to the field in coming years. Previously the field primarily focused on learners and their language development, but there has been an increasing attention on teachers’ experiences, and their reflective practice through writing. However, the authors explain that it can be challenging for teachers to find time and value in expressing their experiences due in part to a lack of venues to do so. Hence, they often don’t really understand their instructional practice and the struggles they experience. However, citing established work, the authors highlight that engaging in autobiographical narrative inquiry is not as simple as setting time aside to write for this form of professional growth to be effective; there needs to be an expert educator to guide the individual through externalization, verbalization, and systematic examination of lived experiences. With the framework for the increasing focus on autobiographical narrative inquiry and the methodology summarized, the chapter provides insight into two of the authors’ stories (i.e, McBride and Gonzalez) and their reflection of writing on their identity as a language educator. Based on the experiences of the two authors’ autobiographical writing experiences, the chapter closes by sharing that such reflective narrative writing offers valuable insight to language teachers but can be particularly insightful for those working with newcomer students with limited or interrupted formal education (SLIFE) because it can offer insight to solutions to move beyond the challenges present in working with SLIFEs.

Chapter 3:  At the Dinner Table; Preservice EFL Teachers’ Identity Negotiations and Resources
Laura M. Kennedy
Understanding the negotiation of identity is bound to the instructional context, the author sets the ground for the introduction of the project exploring the identities of three pre-service EFL teachers that was composed of weekly conversations over dinner. To frame the project within the literature, Kennedy provides a discussion of the role of community of practice and identity negotiation. Next, the context of where and how the three selected pre-service teachers came to be part of a larger study is provided. Readers learn more specifics of the three individuals: David, Gina and Katherine – U.S. citizens in their 20’s – and how their experiences and interests were similar as well as distinct. The author then describes the data collection and analysis process, followed by the researcher authored vignette of their dinner conversations. The vignette is a very detailed and insightful recap of their conversations. Kennedy provides a discussion of the content in the vignette around the aspects of individuals as participants of micro-community of practice and varying levels of resources (i.e., identity, material, relational, etc.) available in their identity negotiation with the community. The chapter closed with insight and implications for communities of practice for pre-service teachers to support their identity development and negotiation.

Part II: Teacher Identity Work in Multimodal Spaces

Traditionally, the formation of a teacher's identity is more evident through spoken and written expressions. In Part II, specifically in chapters four, five, and six, the authors as researchers experiment and construct the identities of language teachers through a digitally designed implementation in this Y2K era. 

Chapter 4: Understanding Language Teacher Identity: Digital Discursive Spaces in English Teacher Education and Development
John I. Liontas
Different from theoretical knowledge constructs of language teacher identity (LTI), Liontas bridges the theory-practice gap by designing the course “applications of technology to SLA and FLA” to explore and examine the participants’ values, beliefs, conceptions, theories, and practices through digital storytelling. In an online learning-teaching setting, participant teachers transformed their knowledge and cognition of language instruction to more reflective, lively, and interactive approaches. This online-based dynamic teaching-and learning process reconstructed the understanding of LTI.

Chapter 5: Multimodal Identity Construction of Technology Using Language Teachers via Stance Taking in an Online Learning Space
Ai-Chu Elisha Ding and Faridah Pawan 
Ding and Pawan, on the other hand, developed online courses that provide a discourse community where language teachers can reflect and negotiate their teaching while reforming their identities through discourse discussion and feedback from other participants. They referenced Du Bois’ (2007) stance triangle, suggesting that teacher identity development is a dynamic social process. Their research results support the notion that LTI can be constructed and reframed through multimodal technology-based discourse.

Chapter 6: Unpacking Professional Identity: The Use of Multimodal Identity Texts and Duoethnographics in Language Teacher Education
Marlon Valencia, Sreemali Herath, and Antoinette Gagné
Three authors, Valencia, Herath, and Gagné come from different locations and use various genres to raise awareness among preservice teachers regarding their multiple identities while teaching. They share insights through the lenses of duo/multi-ethnographies and multimedia autobiographies. In their research, they discovered how teachers transform themselves, reflecting on their teaching practices and adopting a more meaningful approach simultaneously. This process of self-discovery and the ongoing formation of their inner identity enriches and diversifies their instructional approaches.

Part III: Teacher Identity Work vis-a vis Race, Ethnicity, and Language 

Chapter 7: Reading, Writing, and Race: Sharing the Narratives of Black TESOL Professionals
Ayanna C. Cooper and Kisha C. Bryan
While the identity of language teachers has been widely studied, there has been limited attention given to exploring the experiences of ESL professionals who identify as Black or African American. In the work, Cooper and Bryan, they explore the narratives of multiple TESOL teachers to shed light on the challenges and experiences faced by Black educators in their pursuit and practice of ESL teaching. These experiences encompass feelings of exclusion, stress, the burden of stereotypes among aspiring Black TESOL professionals regarding career choices. The voices of the contributors provide readers with a close glimpse into their journeys within the TESOL field. The chapter effectively explores a range of critical themes, including the significance of representation, the impact of race on teaching and learning, and the need for culturally responsive pedagogy. By adopting a narrative approach that humanizes the experiences encountered by Black professionals, it facilitates a personal connection for readers. Cooper and Bryan’s work leaves a deep impact by underscoring the need for increased diversity and inclusion within the TESOL field. It emphasizes the importance of acknowledging and addressing issues related to race and ethnicity to foster a more equitable educational environment.

Chapter 8: Anti-Oppressive Pedagogy in Language Teacher Education: A Collaborative Case Study of Identity Texts
Jamie L. Schissel and Crissa Stephens
Schissel and Stephens in their work provide a comprehensive framework for understanding and implementing anti-oppressive practices in language teaching. The authors draw upon a wide range of theoretical perspectives, including critical pedagogy and social justice, to construct a robust foundation for their arguments. Within their study, they offer a case study that illustrates a collaborative effort involving two groups of in-service and preservice language educators in Iowa and North Carolina. This case study provides valuable insights into the development of critical consciousness as a foundational element for anti-oppressive pedagogy in the field of TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). Schissel and Stephens suggest that solely focusing on constructing the identities of language minority students based on linguistic differences and conforming to hegemonic norms is insufficient. Instead, they advocate for a broader examination of how language educators should be prepared to respond to the multifaceted aspects of their students' identities and academic experiences. The conceptual framework they implemented in the classroom is rooted in anti-oppressive pedagogies, which require that teachers cultivate a continuous critical consciousness regarding their actions within the classroom and their interactions with various social systems of oppression. One significant pedagogical approach they applied is identity text pedagogy, which enables both participating in-service and preservice teachers to consistently reflect on their personal experiences and engage with external texts from the wider world to construct their identities. Their findings suggest that early identification of challenges through the elevation of critical consciousness can shed light on the power dynamics that shape both language minority students and their teachers within the context of language teaching pedagogy. Overall, Schissel and Stephens' work illustrates how such an approach can lead to a more equitable and inclusive educational environment by raising awareness of the power dynamics that impact both students and educators. 

Chapter 9: Reality Check: Identity Struggle and Experience of NESTs Living and Teaching Abroad
Alex Ho-Cheong Leung and Timothy Yip
In an increasingly interconnected world, the demand for native English-speaking teachers (NESTs) in non-English-speaking countries has soared. Leung and Yip explore the multifaceted journey of NESTs as they embrace the opportunities and deal with the challenges of teaching abroad, inside and outside the classrooms. The focal point of their exploration is the complex and evolving construct of teacher identity. Their work offers insights into teacher training and development in the TESOL field, shedding light on the classroom experiences faced by novice language teachers. These experiences encompass feelings of isolation, stress, stereotypes, and the contrasts between initial expectations and reality. The authors also emphasize the problematic nature of classifying individuals strictly as either NESTs or Non-NESTs, recognizing that identity is a dynamic and complicated concept. They conducted a series of interviews with nine NESTs from diverse backgrounds and teaching environments. The qualitative approach they applied allowed them to capture the essence of the NESTs' experiences, giving voice to their struggles, celebrations, and personal growth while teaching abroad. This chapter highlights the challenges NESTs encounter while teaching abroad, such as inadequate pre-departure training. Feedback from NESTs suggests a need to reconsider how teachers are recruited and how the transition to their roles in foreign countries can be facilitated more effectively. Another pivotal aspect explored in the study is the issue of teacher identity. While NESTs acknowledged the privilege they experience while teaching abroad, they also shared instances where colleagues exploited this privilege. Additionally, the study examines the stereotype of NESTs in the classroom and its adverse effects on their ability to establish authority and be recognized as teaching professionals. In conclusion, this chapter provides us a holistic picture of the challenges and experiences faced by NESTs during their journeys as educators in foreign lands.

Part IV: Teacher Identity Work vis-a-vis Teacher Emotions

In this section, the authors have undertaken a comprehensive examination of teacher emotions by gathering interviews with foreign language teachers. These interviews delve into the intricacies of how teachers navigate their personal emotions regarding how they influence teaching outcomes, all the while shaping their professional identities and pedagogical approaches. The research method employed here revolves around detailed case studies, primarily focusing on the intricate interplay between teachers' emotional states and the construction of their professional identities.

Chapter 10 Teacher Emotion as Pedagogy: The Role of Emotions in Negotiating Pedagogy and Teacher Identity
Juyoung Song
This chapter encompasses an exploration of an intern teacher’s experiences, as there is growing interest in teacher identity but less so for studies examining preservice teachers. The chapter begins with a review of the literature, highlighting that previously the focus was on teacher anxiety and level of preparation. With the shift to understanding L2 teaching through a critical perspective, research began to consider emotional and socio-cultural factors. The author then shares a description of a case study examining the emotional responses of an American preservice teacher during her program internship. The research questions focused on not only what emotional responses she had during the internship experience, but also what emotions she leveraged while teaching her students and how these emotions connected to her instructional practice influence her teacher identity. The data was collected through interviews, classroom observations, and the participant’s written journals. The interviews were conducted before, during and after the internship experience. The outcomes of the case study are shared, and the major implications on why instructors need to have a good understanding of their emotions and how they impact their teaching practice. As a result, teachers, leaders and teacher training programs should provide avenues for teachers to reflect on their emotions and experiences to inform their instructional practice and teacher identity.

Chapter 11 Identity, Noticing, and Emotion Among Preservice English Language Teachers
Daniel O. Jackson and Tomoya Shurakawa
Within the purview of the findings from the previous chapter’s results and discussion, the authors continue the exploration of awareness and emotion on preservice teacher trainees. The first discussion lays out the discussion of language teacher identity (LTI) and discussion of recent work exploring preservice teacher identity, highlighting that teacher pedagogical knowledge, identity and emotion all play significant roles in instructional practice in the classroom. The authors then shift to including the role of noticing (i.e., attending to emotions, decisions and practices while teaching) in monitoring emotions and how these intersect with teacher identity. Based on the literature presented, the authors share their study’s research conducted with 16 preservice English language teachers at a Japanese university. The outcome of the study underscores the importance of emotional scaffolding as a critical professional skill that educators should cultivate. This skill is strongly suggested to exert a profound influence on pedagogical approaches and the development of teachers' professional identities. Furthermore, the authors advocate for the inclusion of emotional awareness and specific management techniques in training programs for novice educators. Such training programs are envisioned to play a pivotal role in nurturing the construction of teachers' professional identities and enhancing their overall professionalism. The findings uncover:  i) a passion for teaching and a distinct position within academics, ii) the performance of a job or pursuing a profession, iii) being cultural outsiders but intercultural informers. The identity of preservice teachers possess dualistic identities that are complex, and the study contributes to the literature on this topic.

Chapter 12 Our Job, Too: International Full-time Non-Tenure Track Faculty, English Language Teacher Education, and Emotionally Distressed Students in South Korea
Micheal Jordi Mumford and Ksan Rubadeau 
The authors of this chapter are English teachers at a university in South Korea, where mental health issues are prevalent, and suicide is the highest cause of death among university students in a country that also grapples with mental health and suicide among the overall society. The authors, along with a group of colleagues on campus, worked to form a community on campus to raise mental health awareness and assist emotionally distressed students on campus through a university grant. The authors describe their status as international full-time non-tenure track (FTNT) faculty at South Korean universities, where the majority of international faculty on university campuses are not in a tenure path and they themselves have identity issues. There is little research conducted on FTNT faculty regarding their emotional wellbeing and their ability and responded to supporting emotionally stressed students as part of their instructional roles. There are a lack of resources and support for FTNT faculty that have implications on the quality of instruction students receive. With their context, the authors describes a conceptual approach to identity based on research on FTNT faculty’s professional identity.
Part V: Teacher Identity Work in Teacher Educator-Researcher Practices

Chapter 13 Intercepting and Fluid Identities: From Reflective Teacher Educators to Reflective Teachers
Georgios Neokleous and Anna Krulatz
Part five, titled Teacher Identity Work in Teacher Educator-researcher Practice, includes three articles presenting studies related to teacher educators (TE, henceforth) and teacher candidates’ (TC, henceforth) identity. Chapter 13 shared a study conducted by Georgios Neokleous and Anna Krulatz, which explored how a reflective approach impacted TCs identity formation within the Reflective Teaching Model (RTM) framework. Two TEs at a public university in Norway and eighteen TCs who majored in teaching-English in upper-primary and lower-secondary schools participated in the study. The investigation followed the RTM action reflection cycle of plan-teach-debrief. During the experimental semester, the TCs were required to write four reflective blogs and responses, as well as one teacher identity text. The TEs wrote one reflective blog and responses to TCs’ blog entries. Therefore, the data of the project came from the following sources: 1). the reflective blogs and responses from both TCs and TEs; 2). TCs’ teacher identity texts. Then the authors coded the data into eight recurring themes and compared the themes that were explored by the two groups of participants (TEs and TCs). The results showed an interrelatedness and fluidity of outcomes from both groups, with some themes reinforcing each other, new topics being created, and some themes fading away. The TCs were provided opportunities to articulate their beliefs about language learning and teaching and to explore their own language teacher identity with the feedback and guidance from the TEs. The process also helped the TCs gain a better understanding of the fluid nature of teacher identity. The authors then concluded that the current study indicated that reflective practice is an essential element of professional development for language teachers. Reflective tasks should be integrated into the teacher education program at an early stage to accelerate and enhance the teachers’ identity formation process (e.g., journaling in pre-service teaching education courses).

Chapter 14 Strengths-Based Mentoring for Preservice ESL Teacher Professional Identity Development: A Self-study of Teacher Education Practices
Ye He and Doris Kroiss
Chapter 14 presented two teacher educators’ reflections in an ESL teacher education program, which applied the Strengths-based Mentoring approach to support the teacher candidates’ professional identity development. The authors, Ye He and Doris Kroiss, as educator-researchers, served as the program coordinator and academic advisor and field experience supervisor respectively. The first author also taught ESL methods and linguistics courses in the program. The accompanying seminar courses were led by the second author. During the experimental semester, the Strengths-based Mentoring process was implemented, including the following six essential steps: 1). Disarm:cultivating an open relationship; 2). Discover-surfacing assets and strengths; 3). Dream-setting “we” goals and developing shared vision; 4). Design-co-constructing mentoring process; 5). Deliver-enhancing learning to teach through critical reflection; and 6). Don’t settle-challenging one another in collaborative partnership. The mentoring opportunities included student advising (Disarm & Discover), orientation meetings (Disarm & Discover), weekly seminars (Dream & Design), lesson observation (Design & Deliver), and TCs reflections writings (Don’t settle). The data of the current study were from the reflections written by both the TEs and TCs. The authors found that five strengths-based mentoring practices played essential roles in providing opportunities for preservice teachers’ professional identity formation. Moreover, the strengths-based mentoring approach may also identify areas of improvement in the teacher education programs. 

Chapter 15 The Autoethnography of an [Re]-emerging Researcher Identity and Its Impact on EAP Teaching Pedagogy
Simon Mumford and Kenan Dikilitas
While the teacher identity formation has aroused a growing number of studies in the field of education, few studies on researchers’ identity (RI, henceforth) formation have been conducted. The authors of chapter 15, Simon Mumford and Kenan Dikilitas, who were the teacher educator-researchers and the participants of the current study, addressed the gap of RI formation by looking at the interplay of identities between the two authors—as a mentor and mentee. The investigation was a case study between the two authors, which was conducted under the framework of Lave and Wenger’s Community of Practice (CoP) approach. The approach focused on four aspects of situated learning: community, practice, identity, and meaning/learning. Identity is essential in learning; learning took place through the negotiation of meaning in CoP, which formed their new identity as a result. The reciprocal process, according to the CoP approach, presented the fundamental connection among community, learning, and identity. The current study investigated the changes in Simon’s perceptions chronologically, including his relation to Turkish culture, his establishment of RI, and the influence of the RI on his teaching practice. The findings indicated that 1) a late-career language instructor without previous research experience was capable of having the background as a mentor support for RI; 2) the very experienced language teacher may need more mentoring to build up his identity as an educator-researcher. 

Manka Varghese and Hayriye Kayi-Aydar
The authors offer a recap of the book’s fifteen chapters contribution to understanding language teacher identity. They highlight that the authors of the chapters have shown how multi-faceted the professional individual and it is research and contribution like those in this text that provide insight and understanding into the complexities of language teacher identity.

For some time, language and identity has been focused on learner identity negation, but ESL and FLT educators’ experiences, linguistic backgrounds and classroom experiences have yet to be the focus of discussion. This text speaks to the experiences and realities of diverse language educators. It is possibly serendipity that this review has a diverse author review population.