Context influences and shapes teacher identity and continues to be reflected in the literature (Beijaard, Meijer, & Verloop, 2004; Goodson & Cole, 1994).
Professional teacher identity is formed and mediated by a range of social, cultural, historical, political and environmental factors. In education, the local school context is key to identity formation. It is an amalgam of physical space, institutional culture, the language of discourse and the personal experience of the place that work together as a catalyst for identity construction (Geijsel, & Meijers, 2005).
So I invite you to reflect on your local school context and see it with fresh eyes. Revisit the physical space, the grounds, the building, individual classrooms, offices, the furniture, the ‘feel’ of each space and decide how the space connects with you. Does it engage you? Uplift you or oppress you? Maybe it leaves you feeling lost, too exposed. Or perhaps it energizes you.
Now consider if you dare, the culture of your workplace. The ideas and values, the vision and the practices that shape and define the organizations. The combination of the people, the words that are spoken, the tone of the everyday and examine how this impacts you, now. Culture can be a tricky thing to deconstruct as we rarely allow ourselves time to reflect on the minutiae of the everyday, of our work environment.
And finally, imagine your work space and join the dots if you will to the bigger picture, the bigger contexts – do your work in the inner city or outer suburbs? Are you based in a regional or rural space? Where are you located in terms of state and country? And are you connected to schools and colleagues further away, overseas?
For some of us this experience of context is now blurred. You may sit in a dreary office and pace the floor of a classroom that has seen better days, but you have energy and ideas that come from a context that is beyond four walls. A Cyber world of online exchanges of tweets and updates and snaps. This digital world intersects the real world and shapes our context.
Context influences each one of us. Take the time to revisit what your context really looks like and how it is shaping who you are and who you could be.