Seeking the meaning of the job: Korean novice secondary teachers’ professional identity



Little effort has been made to understand the professional identity of novice teachers in various working contexts despite its significance for teacher professional learning and growth. This article aims to explore the professional identity of novice secondary teachers within Korean education system, where a bureaucratic school culture and teaching to the test prevail. A series of three phenomenological interviews were conducted with four novice secondary teachers to understand their formation of professional identity. Since beginning to teach, all four teachers came to possess similar professional identities as caring teachers, emphasizing their role in supporting students’ growth and happiness. Specifically, three of these teachers who had initially perceived their role as excellent subject teachers transformed their professional identities into those of caring teachers. Meanwhile, the fourth teacher, who had originally aspired to be a caring teacher, retained her professional identity by focusing more on supporting students’ well-being. This study argues that teachers’ ongoing professional identities as caring teachers can be understood as enacting their agency to reconfigure the meaning of teacher professionalism and schooling in the working context that diminishes their role as mere executors of the system’s mandates.


Professional identity Teacher learning Novice teachers Teacher agency Teacher professionalism 


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Copyright information

© Education Research Institute, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute of EducationNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

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