Examining the Construction of the Perceived Teacher Identity of Secondary Family and Consumer Sciences Teachers in Career and Technical Education Classrooms
Given the current state of public education reform and policy conversations, a fundamental component of effective teaching is left out of the dialogue: teacher identity. At present, few studies were found in the literature that focus specifically on the construction of the perceived teacher identity of secondary family and consumer sciences (FCS) teachers in career and technical education (CTE) classrooms. Thus, exploring teachers' experiences and perceptions of how their professional identities developed is important not only for FCS teachers, but for all educators because examining the beliefs held by teachers can improve practice by helping teachers respond to the changes in education.
The first purpose of this study was to gain an in-depth understanding of the lived experiences of secondary FCS teachers in CTE classrooms as they relate to their beliefs about teaching. The second purpose was to further examine the meanings that these teachers make of these experiences and influences as they are connected to the construction of their perceived teaching identities.
The researcher used a qualitative research design to examine the lived experiences of 10 FCS teachers. Guided by a theoretical framework of reflective practice, data were gathered using semi-structured participant interviews, researcher reflexive journal, and field notes. The findings are presented in narratives, one for each participant. Themes are identified within each narrative and common themes emerged across narratives. Among the results of the study were that beliefs about teaching are: reflective of the teacher, responsive to students' needs, and related to the teacher-student relationship. These beliefs were shaped by experiences in education, interactions with students, and significant life events. The reported teacher identity of the participants was described as serving as a role model, teaching FCS, caring, and being supportive.
Distinct types of support are necessary to encourage teacher longevity and job satisfaction, both of which are constructs linked to teacher identity. A better understanding of how FCS teachers construct their sense of teacher identity offers new insight into job satisfaction, retention, professional development, and the improvement of practice. Recommendations for future research are suggested as part of the conclusions of this study.