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TEACHERS’ IDENTITY: CHOOSING PROFESSION AND ADAPTING TO SCHOOL

Vlada Baranova (corresponding author. E-mail: vbaranova@hse.ru), Kirill Maslinsky

National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russia

Citation: Baranova V., Maslinsky K. (2017) Identichnost uchiteley: vybor professii i adaptatsiya k shkole [Teachers’ identity: choosing profession and adapting to school]. Zhurnal sotsiologii i sotsialnoy antropologii [The Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology], 20(2): 104–118 (in Russian). https://doi.org/10.31119/jssa.2017.20.2.6

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Abstract. Despite the attention of researchers to the teaching community, the professional identity of this group remains poorly understood. In this article, the professional identity of teachers is seen through the prism of stories about the turning points of a professional biography: the choice of profession, the adaptation to the school, the experience of (temporary) termination of work and the discussion of teacher’s professional characteristics. The empirical data for the study consists of 49 interviews with teachers in schools of different type (18 schools with standard and 21 with advanced curriculum) randomly selected in the Vasileostrovsky and Nevsky districts of St. Petersburg.

The authors show that respondents construct a consistent narrative about the choice of their profession, interpreting certain events as determining the future profession. The story of one's own teacher as a model reflects the respondent's pedagogical attitude. The adoption of a teacher's identity largely depends on the interaction with the team, to which respondents attach great importance. This study shows that the key to assessing the adaptation of the teacher to the school for both external observers and the teacher itself is the disciplinary code. The change of profession is viewed as natural for those teachers who do not cope with maintaining discipline in class. An interesting feature of Russian teachers is their comparison of their profession with low-skilled labor: both the real work experience outside the school and the alternatives considered by the teachers do not imply the use of the education they have.

Keywords: school, teacher identity, professional identity, professional group

Acknowledgements

The article was prepared within the framework of the project "Status Groups, Career Trajectories and Identities of School Teachers" with the support of the Russian Foundation for Humanitarian Research (grant 14-03-00582) and additional funding from the Scientific Fund of the NRU HSE supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (Grant 15-09-0269). We are thankful to our colleagues in the project, V.A. Ivanyushina and D.A. Alexandrov, as well as L.L. Shpakovskaya, who carefully read the first version of the work.

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