I confess that reading around the key topics and themes in my thesis can be both rewarding and disabling. The literature around professional teacher identity and professional learning has revealed a wealth of ideas and issues pertaining to the profession and the delicate, often strained existence between the personal and professional self that is constantly being contested and changed.
I have read the core literature. And I should stop. I am looking out for new additions to my reading list, new ways researchers have framed ideas and explored the professional identity notion. But I have found dipping into a few key works and taking the time to read some books published as opposed to the odd journal article has brought some reward.
Parker (2007) The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life is a tenth anniversary edition of a classic text. The landscape of the inner and outer life of the teacher, marked significantly by Parker’s own reflections has made this text an important one. I think I found some relief reading a colleague’s journey into the rich and complex domain of a teacher’s life. Parker gives merit to this notion of needing to ‘know thyself.’ A combination of intellectual, emotional and spiritual pathways is explored as the best way to know and understand the teacher. This idea confirms my need for connection and collaboration; for reflection, feedback and evaluation; for a vocation beyond myself.
Similarly, Day and Gu (2010) The New Lives of Teachers build a compelling thesis around the professional identity of teachers and the influences of the personal, emotional, organizational and intellectual. The context in which we teach is incredibly powerful and how we negotiate the ‘personal’ has a direct impact on teacher commitment and sustainability.
So I am reading to confirm ideas I have already formed around teacher identity. And I am reading to challenge and direct my writing as I start to pull together a clear proposal for my project. As a researcher and educator I am committed to life long learning, I want to teach encourage and motivate. The question is how do I support my peers in doing this? How can what I ‘produce’ through my research be relevant as a professional learning tool for women who are leaders in education?
Reading too little or too much unearths many of these questions.