Identity Development of Foreign Language Teachers in Lithuania
Centre for Multilingual Studies, Vilnius University
Orcid ID https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4410-312X
Research Interests: Teacher research, language teacher development, language teaching pedagogy
Faculty of Philology, Vilnius University
Abstract. Teacher identity is an evolving, multi-dimensional concept of a teacher’s understanding of self, best understood as a dynamic narrative of self-growth. The present study is focused on hypothesized stages of teacher identity development (Pride, Survival, Experimentation, Disenchantment, Rebellion and Progressive Proficiency) and their occurrence in Lithuanian foreign language teachers. A series of semi-structured interviews were carried out with eight Lithuanian foreign language teachers to discover their personal narratives of teacher identity development.The findings of the qualitative case study research revealed that key features of the six possible identity stages were present across the unique experiences of theforeign language teachers interviewed. However, each research participant displayed only certain key features of each identity development stage rather than a combination of all the possible features. In general, less experienced teachers displayed fewer key features at certain identity stages, implying that they had not experienced particular phases of identity development to completion. The results suggest certain features of identity development stages can be omitted and then experienced later in a teacher’s career. Teacher satisfaction with compensation, job security, professional prestige and the education system in general were additional factors that contributed uniquely to the identity development of teachers working in Lithuania.
Key Words: Teacher research, teacher identity development, foreign language teaching in Lithuania
Copyright © 2021 Adam Mastandrea, Gabrielė Palaimaitė.
Published by Vilnius University
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Pateikta / Submitted on 30.06.21
Teacher identity is a complex, multi-dimensional concept concerned with a plethora of corresponding external and internal elements which influence its formation process as well as outcomes (Vargheseet al.,2005). Due to the notion of identity being closely intertwined with personal, professional, societal, political and economic factors, as well as having a great relevance to human consciousness and understanding of one’s self, a substantial number of studies investigating the topic of teacher identity development have emerged in the last couple of decades.
However, despite a large database of teacher identity research, the literature is lacking in the area of developmental structure of foreign language teacher identity. Furthermore, stages of teacher identity development are mainly introduced in isolation and explored as individual concepts without considering other possible stages of identification and thus overlooking the continuity of the development process. The extent of teacher identity research in Lithuania is rather limited with no studies specifically designed to explore locally sourced data.The goal of this paper is to explore the identity development process of a group of eight foreign language teachers in Lithuania. Specifically, this paper investigates the structure of the identity development process through certain personal and professional experiences associated with each teacher participant and illuminates the uniqueness of the identity development processes of foreign language teachers in Lithuania.
1. Teacher Identity Development
1.1 The Context of Foreign Language Teachers in Lithuania
The professional, political, and cultural context in which schools operate and teachers work has an influence on the pedagogical choices teachers make in their classrooms (Nicholson, 1996), teacher planning and classroom management decisions (Woods, 1996), and the ways in which teachers choose to motivate their students (Reeve, 2009). Thus, when studying the uniqueness of the identity development process of foreign language teachers in Lithuania, it is important to include a general picture of the context of language education in Lithuania.
The Lithuanian public education system consists of pre-primary, primary, secondary and higher education. Foreign languages are taught at each of the stages (except for pre-primary) on a mandatory level (Eurydice, 2020-2021). Lithuanian schools offer up to 7 (English, Russian, German, Polish, Belarusian, French, Spanish) different foreign languages with access to more languages as electives in some schools. The first foreign language is taught from either year two or year four, while a second foreign language is taught from year six. Learning two foreign languages is mandatory, with the first language being compulsory for at least 8 years and a second language compulsory for 5 years(Steponavičius, 2009; SMM, 2008-2009).
Foreign language teachers in Lithuania are trained in three universities as well as nine different higher education institutions offering mixed pedagogy courses in-collaboration with these universities (SMM, 2018). Teacher pedagogy studies are divided into subject studies and education studies providing Lithuanian teachers with subject-matter knowledge and pedagogical knowledge and all include a 20-week professional practicum(Jevsejevienė, 2015). Teachers may begin working in public and private education institutions after acquiring a higher education degree, pedagogical qualifications and a specialization in a subject of choice (Jevsejevienė, 2015).
Once employed, teaching contracts are usually indefinite and do not need to be renewed unless the details of the contract change. Contracts may be terminated upon mutual agreement or following a breach of contract of either party. Full-time teachers are expected to work at least 36 hours per week (SMM, 2018; Esavadai.lt, 2019). The average salary of a Lithuanian teacher is around 934 euros per month before taxes (SMM, 2018), ranked as the 328th highest paid profession in Lithuania out of605 listed (manoalga.lt,2021).The teaching profession is not considered prestigious in Lithuania mainly due to the low salary, specific qualifications required, limited advancement opportunities, and an unfavourable outlook from society which may have formed due to the aging population of teachers and the prevalence of outdated teaching methods (Eurydice, 2020-2021).
1.2 The Concept of Teacher Identity
Teacher identity can be conceived as an evolving process, constantly shifting without ever reaching one final form (Beauchamp& Thomas, 2009, p. 177). Teacher identity is influenced by a multitude of factors including the perspective of an educator on teaching as a profession, social expectations and norms, classroom dynamic and more individual aspects of teacher identity such as work ethic, methodology, and pedagogical approach. Thus, ‘Identity is not a fixed, stable, unitary, and internally coherent phenomenon but is multiple, shifting, and in conflict’ (Varghese et al., 2005, p. 22).
Identity development, due to its range and individuality, is not static and instead is an extended ordeal. It could be said that identity is a type of narrative (Ibarraet al.,2010, p. 135; Zembylas, 2003, p. 2013-2017). Ibarra (2010) stated that self-narrative is an expression of one’s identityand highlight that it is usually associated with work identity (p. 135). Zembylas (2003) realized the definition of identity as ‘a story with narrative constructs typically found in stories such as themes, plots, and characters’ (p. 215). Aside from being an extended human life experience, an individual’s identity has the typical characteristics found in narratives. It constantly and consistently changes depending on the circumstances, external and internal influences, as well as context, specifically professional context (Heick, 2018, p.n.).
1.3. Stages of Teacher Identity Development
Based on the identity development layouts found across varying literature sources, six of the most analysed stages of teacher identity development were chosen to be explored in the present study. These stages are Pride, Survival, Experimentation, Disenchantment, Rebellion and Progressive Proficiency (Heick, 2018). These stages of identity development were found to be heavily influenced by the professional context (Mockler, 2011, p. 3). The different stages could be related to the teacher’s experience in education, acquired skills and knowledge, length of career, and qualifications possessed (Mockler, 2011, p. 5).
The initial stage of Pride is characterized bya transition from the role of student to the role of teacher, which may begin as early as during professional practicum at university (Setlhako, 2020, p. 104). At this stage the position of authority is acquired, which allows teachers to begin exercising control in the classroom by enforcing their own values and upholding their own level of morale. It is hypothesized that control may be easier to exercise for young teachers at the stage of pride due to the initial lack of awareness of the extent of external pressures (Bosso, 2017, p. 11). Despite the possible lack of external pressure, novice teachers are still expected to perform on the same level as their senior colleagues or even better (Setlhako, 2020, p. 102-103; Gavish& Friedman, 2010, p. 3). If novice teachers are given positive feedback on their performance, they may experience confidence, which translates into a belief of being fully qualified and having substantial knowledge of the profession. The expectations they place on themselves may also transfer to the expectations that young teachers place on their students. However, to establish a successful learning system that caters to student’s needs, teachers must change these expectations (Kaplan&Owings, 2013, p. 146-147). Teachers are meant to keep learning throughout their career, they ought to continuously assess the changing environment, expectations and students needs in order to adapt their subject matter knowledge to make a successful professional contribution to education (Menter, 2016, p. 23).
The second stage of Survival could be described as a gradual acquisition of a more realistic view of the professional environment in which educators work, and adaptation to the system already in place (Bluestein, 2010, p. 68). To survive, teachers need to accommodate their ideals to deal with unmotivated students, hostile work environments, probable lack of supplies and tools as well as a pre-set curriculum that may not match the educational needs of the class (Bluestein, 2010). Some young teachers may choose to distance themselves from the problem, ‘Often, in the Survival stage, teachers do not believe they have any control of their teaching context’ (Strootet al.,1998, p. 3). Others turn to their more experienced colleagues for advice, requesting aid through the means of open communication with high performing teachers can increase the potential of a young teacher’s success (Spillaneet al., 2018, p. 586-588). However, if survival methods are not applied or are unsuccessfully applied in combination with severe and unfair assessments or performance thresholds (Storey, 2007), teachers may choose to leave the profession.
Experimentation is a trial and error based stage of individual expression and nonconformity, which consists of two main elements: practice and discovery (Özmen, 2011). The practice aspect of the Experimentation stage may refer to a broad spectrum of experiments ranging from trying new classroom activities and assignments, variations in body language and verbal communication strategies, and experimenting with rearranging classroom space and materials (Özmen, 2011). The consequent discovery stage of Experimentation refers to the teacher's revelation of possible selves, which is an ideal teacher identity that the teacher wishes to achieve (Ronfeldt&Grossman, 2008, p. 42). Özmen stated that, ‘pre-service teachers should also analyse themselves carefully so as to find out which of their personal resources are critical and necessary to embody their ideal teaching identity’ (2011, p. 38).
At the stage of Disenchantment, most prominently displayed within the first five years of teaching, teachers begin to question their future in education. It is a stage of loss of purpose, disappointment or a general feeling of unhappiness due to a deeper understanding of the realities of being a teacher. The sense of disappointment may come from the loss of a professional compass. According to Setlkhako (2020), effective guidance for teachers is not usually implemented in education systems (p. 103). There is no clear system to communicate the new skills and knowledge required for teachers and many educators remain in a closed-off circle of being pushed towards upgrading their qualifications and having no certain instructions on what skills need to be acquired or how to acquire them (International Consulting, 2013, p. 85). According to Hossain (2018) the top priority for language teachers is learning plan individualization, however having individualized plans becomes nearly impossible due to having to accommodate extremely different levels of language acquisition in students (p. 166). Furthermore, teachers are not always viewed as working in a prestigious field. In Lithuania it is not uncommon that student achievements are attributed to family contributions to their education, while failures are considered the educator’s fault (Pranskevičienė, 2011).
The fifth stage of Rebellion can occur due to a ‘disconnect between policy goals and classroom realities’ (Bosso, 2017, p.17). Factors such as student engagement, motivation, communication and language skills, educational needs, preferred learning methods and teacher abilities may influence the work in the foreign language classroom, which is not noted when setting goals and making broader educational policies (Bosso, 2017, p. 17). Therefore, in order for teachers to maintain a healthy classroom environment with efficient learning outcomes, it is crucial to employ critical thinking. At the stage of Rebellion, critical thinking becomes the key element of identity development. Critical thinking in this case refers to a balanced and contextually appropriate approach to adaptation to the classroom (Pennington&Richards, 2016). The critical thinking aspect of Rebellion may be associated with adaptive subject professionalism. According to Tuzlukova et al. (2017), teachers who were able to employ their critical thinking skills and adapt their teaching methods to the needs of the students, instead of following pre-set curriculums, realised greater results among their students (p. 623-629). Rebellion manifests itself in constant adaptation and teacher identity development heavily depends on how educators can adapt to the complex environment of the classroom and practice in itself (Sutherlandet al.,2006, p. 456).
The final stage of Progressive Proficiency is a stage defined by the achievement of self-efficacy. Teacher self-efficacy refers to satisfaction and confidence in a teacher's ability to be instructionally efficient, which is usually found among long-term educators rather than novice teachers (Martin &Mulvihill, 2019). According to Bosso (2017), ‘Teacher empowerment as related to self-efficacy is the most significant determinant of intrinsic satisfaction’ (p.19). The four main categories of teacher self-efficacy are socio-affective skills, pedagogical knowledge, subject-matter knowledge, and personal characteristics (Dinçer et al. 2013, p. 3). Socio-affective skills indicate a teacher’s ability to socialize, adapting to the needs of the conversation participants and taking context into consideration, thus shaping the social circle into one that is the most beneficial to professional development. Pedagogical knowledge refers to the teacher’s ability to present the subject and share their knowledge efficiently by adapting to the circumstances, the context, the students and therefore organizing teaching accordingly by explaining and clarifying material professionally with their students’ interest in mind. Subject-matter knowledge covers efficient class planning, context integration, fluency in the target language, lexicon, pronunciation, and language accuracy, as well as knowledge of the culture of the target language. The personal characteristics of a successful language educator include tolerance, a sense of humour, patience, kindness, optimism, flexibility, enthusiasm, positivityand creativity(Dinçer et al. 2013, p. 3-5).Our interest as researchers was in the identity development of Lithuanian teachers and illuminating the connection between the unique context of language teaching in Lithuania and the stages of identity development that teachers experienced.
The purpose of the present study is exploration of the unique identity development for each participant of the study as they narrate their personal experiences as language teachers.A qualitative case study design was selected to be the most suitable for analysing the identity development process of foreign language teachers in Lithuania because it allowed for an interpretation of each participant’s unique attempt at making sense of their experience as a language teacher (Denzin&Lincoln,2011, p. 3). Additionally, a case study approach was selected due to the lack of initial expected results (Baxter&Jack,2008, p. 548-550) and limited intervention into the participants’ experiences preventing manipulation of the data collected (Baxter&Jack, 2008, p. 545). The study was carried out using the method of semi-structured interviews, which are best suited for understanding individual’s experiences and their own perceptions of those experiences (Blandford, 2013, p. 23) as well as to allow for steady data acquisition with the additional prospect of individualization. The subjects of the study were eightforeign language teachers working in public schools across Lithuania. The participating teachers taught 8th– 12thgrades and only teachers with experience of at least five years were invited to participate in the hopes that their extended experience would provide a richer narrative of identity development.
2.1 Data Collection
The data collection was carried out in four steps. First, a questionnaire was formed. Each of the questions was based on the literature analysed and each identity stage was paired with a particular question suited for exploration of that stage. Additional follow up questions were asked to clarify and elaborate on participant responses during the interview. Second, participant interviews were arranged and conducted using an online video conferencing platform and recorded with the consent of the participants. Interviews took place over the course of February/March 2021. From the recorded interviews, the interview data were transcribed and then coded based on prominent and repeated emerging themes. The codes were then sorted into groups according to both the themes that emerged and the identity stages they were associated with.Finally, the participant responses within the same theme and identity stage were then grouped and compared to each other and compared to the literature reviewed, comparisons between experiences of teachers interviewed revealing different aspects of identity stages and their identifying factorsand included some themes that were not found in previous studies.
2.2 Data Analysis
Pride: Four key themes emerged as shared ideas among teachers interviewed: authority (T1, T2, T3, T4, T5, T8), enforcement of values (T1, T2, T4, T5, T6, T7, T8), improvement (T1, T4, T5) and confidence (T1, T4, T5).
Authority: I had classroom rules that I enforced to keep the classroom under control. Especially in the beginning to gain the respect of my students as a young professional.’ (T2)
Confidence: ‘My error was that I was expecting everything to come easy to my students, because I am a teacher, I am explaining, what is there to not understand?’ (T1)
Improvement: ‘It is more about the learning process and growing, you do not have to know everything, but you need to know where to find information and use various tools to make it sound interesting to students.’ (T4)‘One value that came to me with experience and became stronger over time was that you need to grow and learn in a way that you would expect from the students in your classroom.’ (T5)
Enforcement of values (respect): ‘I believe that a teacher who doesn’t respect his/her students cannot earn their respect, so the teacher is responsible for making his or her students understand that they are heard and understood and are equal to the teacher as people, but the teacher is also trying to give them knowledge that they might not yet have and it is important to respect that as well.’(T6)
(Motivation): I expect my students to be motivated and to reach our goals quickly and efficiently by listening to my guidance.’(T8)
Survival: Three key themes shared by several participants emerged: adaptation (T1, T2, T4), communication (T1, T2, T3, T4, T5, T7) and avoidance of problems (T6, T8).
Adaptation: ‘The crucial part of being a teacher is the ability to adapt <...> you have to be ready to pick up the pace very quickly and to switch everything up and to make everything interesting and especially educational for each new group.’ (T1)
Communication: ‘One thing that really helped me get settled into the school is talking to someone I trust, other teachers from different schools as well as colleagues that I trusted.’ (T5).
Involvement: I tried to be included, from the beginning. Being part of the group is what really helped me find my place as a teacher’ (T7).
Avoidance of Problems: Getting into senseless arguments or unnecessary discussions which lead nowhere and do not help me become a better teacher is something I try to avoid’ (T6)
Role-playing: As a teacher your work is always watched and judged, I try to imagine myself as an actress in that situation, that I am acting and there are many viewers in the audience watching me perform a character, otherwise I would take it too personally.’ (T8).
Quitting:‘I started my career at a public school, I didn’t really find myself there, so I quit. And that is where my survival stopped’ (T3).
Experimentation:There were four key themes that emerged from the interviews: change of methods (T1, T3, T4, T6, T8), individualization (T3, T4, T6, T8), growth (T2, T5, T7) and flexibility (T3, T4, T6, T7). Additionally, one teacher presented the theme of outside influence (T1) that was prominent in their stage of experimentation and another teacher spoke of intransigence (T5).
Change of methods: ‘I had to change up my tactics and methods when I went from teaching students that already had the basics down at the beginning of my career, to now teaching students from the very beginning’ (T1).
Individualization: ‘I prefer to focus on everyone’s issues individually and attend one student’s needs at a time’ (T3)
Growth: ‘The biggest struggle was with myself. I realized that if I want to try a new method or tactic, I first of all have to work with myself, because my students do not know how it should be and how it could be if I used one or another method.’ (T2).
Flexibility: ‘I also started practicing flexibility, paying more attention to what the students want and defying the programme a little bit, I believe it helps me control the classroom better because they feel heard and guided.’ (T3)
Outside Influence: ‘Another error was paying attention to certain demands. I think you should always listen to what your student wants and their goals, no doubt. But also, there is always someone who is giving unsolicited advice who is also not a professional, maybe a family member, you and your student knows best what works and how long it will take to get somewhere.’ (T1)
Intransigence: ‘I haven’t really experimented much in my classroom as I prefer to stick with the textbook material or exercises found on the internet.’ (T5)
Disenchantment: The described situations were categorized into shared themes that were determined to be the loss of professional compass (T1, T2, T4, T6, T7, T8), lack of flexibility (T1, T3, T7), external pressure (T1, T3, T6) and declining prestige (T1, T5, T8). Additionally, a theme of contentment (T2, T5, T6, T8)was drawn from the teachers’ statements. Aside from key themes that were discussed across several interviews, an individual theme of quitting emerged in an interview with T3 that was not reciprocated in other teachers’ statements.
The loss of professional compass: ‘I have done some reflections on my teaching practices and realized what went wrong... I could have perhaps used some guidance then and solved it sooner.’ (T2)‘I think the hardest is the beginning, getting the hang of everything. After the initial adrenaline rush of getting in front of the classroom everything becomes scary and difficult, dealing with students and colleagues, documents, class plans, and so on. You do not really know what you are supposed to do.’ (T1)
Lack of flexibility: ‘You never know what students will come to you next, what their needs and expectations are, what their language level is, how you will work with them and will they want to work with you. <...> that is quite hard and a big challenge to be ready to accommodate whatever is thrown at you.’ (T7)
best understood as a dynamic narrative of self-growth: ‘My biggest disappointment was my students’ attitudes towards me and their other teachers. They simply did not hold any value and they didn’t understand nor wanted to understand the work that goes into being a teacher’ (T5).
best understood as a dynamic narrative of self-growth:‘Probably one of the more traumatic experiences is confrontation with the parents of your students’ (T3).
Contentment: ‘I have never thought about leaving education (at least up until now). To my mind, the more difficult situations and hardships I face, the more mature and confident I become.’ (T6)
Quitting: ‘My years in the public schools were a disappointment. ... That is why I left public schools.’ (T3)
Rebellion:The key themes shared by the foreign language teachers interviewed were critical thinking (T1, T2, T3, T7), disconnect (T2, T3, T4, T5, T7, T8) and adjustment (T1, T2, T3, T8). Additionally, one teacher (T6) spoke about the need for further research in order to implement change, thus excluding herself from the narrative of rebellion.
Critical thinking: ‘There is nothing wrong with having textbooks but sometimes there need to be new ways of learning and new things to incorporate into learning, not only following the textbooks’ (T1)
However, it may be hard to implement the changes that the teachers expect due to the disconnect between education policy and the actual reality of the classroom.
Disconnect: We need to work on individualization and personalization of both the programmes and the exams to reflect the realities of the classroom.’ (T4)‘Nowadays too many responsibilities and functions are attached to teachers, which make it quite complicated to continue only with your direct work (you are pressed to do unimportant things). At the end of the day despite pushing through all that we get very little pay so many teachers lose motivation and leave the profession if they do not find a second or even third source of income.’ (T5)
Adjustment: ‘If you want to have a more creative and fun classroom, an interesting classroom, you have to figure it all out on your own, because schools do not provide you with the means to do so.’ (T8).
Progressive Proficiency: Four key themes emerged in the answers provided by the participants of the study, these themes were socio-affective skills (T2, T8), pedagogical knowledge (T1, T3, T4, T5, T6, T7, T8), subject-matter knowledge (T2, T4, T6, T8) and personal characteristics (T1, T2, T5, T7, T8).
Socio-affective skills: ‘A person who is a good psychologist and a sociable person, who can make an emotional connection with the students, their parents, with other school staff, with administration should be the most efficient.’ (T2)
Pedagogical knowledge:‘I think that self-efficacy is related to the notion of a professional person that could be characterized as a person who knows their subject well.’ (T2)
Subject-matter knowledge: ‘As a language teacher you are also teaching culture, values and even traditions. You constantly have to keep updated and educate yourself on the newest matters, keep relevant information flowing, so you can share and educate your students as well, grow with them non-stop.’ (T4) ‘I think that self-efficacy is related to the notion of a professional person that could be characterized as a person who knows their subject well.’ (T2)
Personal characteristics: ‘You cannot really work as a teacher if you are not willing to self-reflect and try to improve yourself as a person as well.’ (T8)
After careful analysis of the data collected, it was determined that every teacher interviewed had a unique combination of experiences in their identity development process. This included having different combinations of key features at each of the identity stages resulting in very different actions and outcomes. For example, while speaking on experiences of disenchantment, almost all of the participating teachers experienced high levels of external pressure, lack of flexibility in their schools, and a sense of losing direction. For some of the teachers, overcoming these obstacles led to a sense of contentment but for one teacher the result was quitting. Similarly, while speaking about the rebellion stage, most teachers acknowledged a disconnect between the demands of the job and the resources and training they received, but only four of the teachers took the additional step of adapting their materials or teaching practice to fix the perceived problems.
Additional Factors: Additional factors that emerged in the teacher narrative data related to the context in which the teachers taught included professional prestige and societal view on the teacher profession (T1, T2, T3, T4, T5, T6, T7, T8), satisfaction with financial compensation and job security (T1, T3, T5, T7, T8), education system and efficiency of its implementation (T1, T2, T3, T4, T5, T6, T7, T8), and access to professional learning (T1, T2, T3, T4, T6, T7, T8).According to the teachers, professional learning included acquisition of new skills, updating knowledge, expansion of professional understanding as well as the combination of both pedagogical skills and personal improvements.
Two additional factors emerged in the data that seemed unrelated to the external context of teaching. Regarding the theme of personal development (T2, T3, T4, T7, T8),the teachers interviewed indicated that self-reflection, use of outside sources and a means of relaxation fuelled personal development. Teacher experience (T1, T2, T3, T4, T5, T6, T7, T8), or the length of a teacher’s career and the amount of experience in the field,played a large role in the participants narratives on identity development. The teachers themselves believed that length of teaching experience was an important factor in developing as a teacher. The collected data showed that more experienced teachers included more features that signified going through particular stages of identity development in their narratives, while less experienced teachers did not talk much about their experiencesin the domains of socio-affective skills, subject matter knowledge, adaptation and contentment in their identity development narratives.
Teacher identity is a constantly changing and evolving, adjustable, multi-dimensional concept of a teacher’s understanding of self, captured through narratives of self-growth. The present study focused on stages of teacher identity development that have been hypothesized to occur over the course of educators’ careers.The six teacher identity stages overviewed in the paper were Pride, Survival, Experimentation, Disenchantment, Rebellion and Progressive Proficiency. The findings of the qualitative case study research revealed that key features of the six possible identity stages were present across the unique experiences of the eight foreign language teachers interviewed. However, each research participant displayed only certain key features of each identity development stage rather than a combination of all the possible features. In general, less experienced teachers displayed fewerof the key features at certain identity stages, implying that they hadnot yet experienced particular phases of identity development to completion.This data suggests different key features of identity development stages can be omitted and possibly experienced later in a teacher’s career.
Although a more in-depth study of context in the schools and classrooms where teachers work is needed to paint a clearer picture of factors contributing to differences in narratives of development, several shared contextual factorsemerged inthe collected data. These additional factorswere firmly rooted in the unique context of the Lithuanian educational system (satisfaction with compensation and job security, professional prestige, education system and professional learning). In the teacher narratives these contextual factors emerged in discussion of all stages of development and led to both positive and negative impacts on teacheridentity and their teaching careers.
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