Reflecting on teacher identity through photos

Hahl, K. (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Teacher reflection provides a tool for analyzing and developing one’s actions in teaching and learning, and for developing one’s teacher identity. This study looks into the experiences of reflecting on the development of teacher identity through a photo diary instead of a traditional written report. This study examines how a photo diary can help aspiring student teachers to consider their teacher identity and their developmental process and goals as a teacher. Data of participant experiences (n = 26) were collected through an online questionnaire at the end of a subject teacher education programme in Finland. Data were also gathered from photo diaries (n = 21). The students were asked to compile a photo report with at least seven photos with captions, according to selected guiding questions. The questionnaire data were analyzed with thematic analysis (Braun & Clark, 2006) and the photo diaries were analyzed with content analysis (Elo & Kyngäs, 2008). Reflection is an important component of teacher development but it is not an easy skill to learn. It requires the individual’s willingness to critically and openly examine his/her own interpretations. Student teachers therefore need to learn to reflect on their conceptions and understanding of learning and teaching. Furthermore, they need to relate these to their own behaviour and reactions in situations as well as weave them into their own personal pedagogies that they will draw upon in teaching. Teacher identity offers a framework for teachers to build their own ideas of the profession and its place in society and thus enhance their professional development. Student teachers are often asked to discuss their experiences and development orally in groups led by a teacher educator or write a reflection report. As student teachers may be burdened with numerous writing assignments, a photo diary was invented to offer an innovative and engaging pedagogical method that would allow new ways to describe their feelings and considerations. The photo diary is based on the idea of empowering photos; photos that are meaningful and in some way relay a student teacher’s feeling or understanding of an issue related to his/her teacher identity and development. The results of the study are promising and the method of photo reflection was welcomed as an inspiring, interesting and novel way of working. The student teachers found personal perspectives to describe their teacher development and teacher identity. More than photos of themselves in teaching, they found innovative ways to describe teaching and being a teacher, also through metaphors. The photos provided the students with more meaningful and appropriate ways to express their development as teachers as they were not only restricted to words, and also incorporated the use of ICT in the compilation of their photo diary. Photos empowered students to be creative and dig deeper of who they were as teachers. A photo diary is one way for going beyond the traditional ways of reflecting. It may offer more meaningful ways for students to consider their development as teachers. The use of photos can make reflecting more interesting for student teachers as the significance of reflection may sometimes be challenging for them to understand. Keywords: In-service teacher education, teacher reflection, teacher identity, photo diary, Finland.
Period12 Nov 201814 Nov 2018
Event titleICERI 2019 - 11th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation: null
Event typeConference
LocationSeville, Spain
Degree of RecognitionInternational