Narrative inquiry for studying teacher identity

Over the last decades or so, much research has been conducted on teacher professional identity with a narrative focus (Jiang, Min, Chen & Gong, 2013; Leigh, 2019; Watson, 2006). In terms of identity as a multiple construct, teacher professional identity formation involves sub-components such as academic identity, teacher identity, and institutional identity (Jiang et al., 2013). Various factors may shape teacher identity, that is, personal experience, professional context, and even the external political environment (Mocklcr, 2011). Professional identity as a concept is found to be linked to the professional knowledge and action (Watson, 2006). Space, that is, the city and the school culture, also influences the teacher’s professional identity construction either positively or negatively (Leigh, 2019).

In a systematic review of research on foreign language teacher identity in Turkey, the need for research on professionalism and teacher identity was highlighted (Taner & Karaman, 2013). In a more recent systematic review article on non-native English speaking teachers (NNESTs) in L2 school contexts has called for research on NNESTs’ professional identities; besides, while small-scale qualitative research methodologies have been adopted much, employing narrative inquiry is less in the area of NNEST identity research (Yuan, 2019). Therefore, exploring stories of an NNEST by using narrative inquiry may provide valuable insights on teacher education research and methodology. In this chapter, I aim to inquire into the professional identity construction of a language teacher, Elifl, from Turkey. Elif presents the characteristics of a professional teacher endowed with professional autonomy (Güven, 2010). In addition to possessing a career plan (Güven, 2010) and following a continuous professional development path (Özdemir, 2016), she defines herself as a researcher of her practice, which has become very popular in recent decades (see, e.g., Sachs, 2016). It is hoped that exploring the journey of an experienced teacher working at a state high school may bring valuable insights for those who arc in their initial years of profession and teacher candidates.

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