Borderlands of Possibility: Exploring the Construction of Professional Identity With Intern Teachers


  • Sharon L. Allan U of Alberta



professional identity, borderland space, intern teachers, field experience, interpretive case study


Students enrolled in Bachelor of Education degree programs engage in academic study and field experiences that both validate and challenge their existing understandings of who they are and who they are becoming: their professional identity. This interpretive case study explored the ways in which four intern teachers constructed professional understandings during the 15 weeks of their culminating field experience: a borderland space. Ecologically defined as an ecotone, this time in between—of being a student and becoming a teacher—is a zone of transition, a crossroads of being and becoming. Using a series of conversational interviews where the researcher and the participants explored the experience of living on the borderland, this study revealed the challenges of constructing a professional identity as well as the ways in which these intern teachers gradually assumed the subject position: teacher. Four essential aspects of this experience were distilled from the findings of this inquiry and arranged into a conceptual framework to assist teacher educators as they craft curriculum capable of engaging student teachers in the consideration of who they are becoming as teachers. By contributing to our growing understanding of the ways in which preservice teachers view themselves as emerging professionals, this inquiry suggests deeper investigation of the mentor-mentee relationship is needed in order to better support student teachers on the borderlands of their final field experience.

            Keywords: professional identity; borderland space; intern teachers; field experience; interpretive case study