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Professional identity development: life positioning analyses of foreign-trained teachers

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  • Anthropology
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Linguistics
  • Philosophy
  • Social Sciences


As a multicultural country, Canada offers an inclusive society where ethnic differences should not pose barriers. Canada's immigration policies seek to cultivate economic prosperity and sociocultural diversity. Economically, the success of Canada's immigration policy is intrinsically tied to employment while, socially, there is an obligation that the skills, abilities and diversity brought by immigrants be embraced. British Columbia's provincial governement acknowledges that changing demographics are key challenges to education. Demographic changes in the student population in many school districts in BC have seen some groups, previously minorities in BC, now comprising the majority of the student population. At present, there is considerable discrepancy between the ethnic diversity of the student population and the number of teachers from comparable ethnic backgrounds. A divide currently exists: teachers reflect values that define the dominant group, however the students they are teaching reflect a diversity of cultural backgounds. Employing teachers of diverse ethnic backgrounds is a social, moral, and ethical imperative in education. When children of various ethnicities do not see their experiences reflected in their educational settings, they can become marginalized. Further, teachers of various ethnicities can provide role models for ethnically diverse students and act as agents for social change. One method of enhancing the ethnic diversity of the teaching force is through employing foreign-trained teachers. However, employment of foreign-trained teachers has not kept pace with the changing demographics in the student population. Incorporating foreign-trained teachers within the teaching profession in BC meets Canada's economic goals, as underemployment of an immigrant workforce has economic, social, and moral repercussions. Foreign-trained teachers encounter challenges negotiating their professional identity in the context of Canadian classrooms. Professional identity development for foreign-trained teachers incorporates both their personal histories and their integratio into the sociocultural context and discourse of the teaching profession in Canada. Through exploring the professional identity development of foreign-trained teachers this research offers insight into their experiences in repositioning themselves in BC classrooms. With the narrative analysis framework proposed by Jack Martin (2011), Life Positioning Analysis, this research provides an appreciation for the role of others in facilitating the professional identity development of foreign-trained teachers.

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