INDUCTION, PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY, AND PROFESSIONAL
DEVELOPMENT: THREE CLOSELY LINKED CONCEPTS
Jean is strolling down the hallway
somewhat tentatively; he is looking
for room B4-122 where he is scheduled to give his very ﬁrst course
in Quebec and Canadian politics.
After having worked as a political
attaché for an MNA of the region,
Jean decided to reorient his career
towards teaching at college, where
other family members also worked.
A little farther down the hallway,
Sophie and Jean cross paths not
knowing they share a similar reality:
This will be the ﬁrst course of their
college teaching career.
Having dreamed, for several years,
of becoming a teacher, Sophie has
a diploma in English Studies and
Higher Education. On her way to
her classroom, she is mentally reviewing how she wants her ﬁrst
English course to unfold. Jean and
Sophie are two new members of the
teaching staff who are in a phase of
induction in college teaching.
This stage can be defined in different
ways depending on our perspective,
but also in a context where induction
takes place (Nault, 2005). First, let us
say that induction can last from one to
seven years depending on the teacher.
For Weva (1999), induction ends when
teachers become adapted to their environment and daily tasks and when
they can function fully and efficiently
in the school system.
Professor at PERFORMA
Université de Sherbrooke
According to Nault (1999), it ends when teachers reach a certain level of confidence
and competency, a moment often marked by the obtaining of a permanent position.
In the eyes of Letven (1992), induction is over when the teacher becomes concerned
with improving his practice and increasing his reservoir of teaching strategies.
As stated concisely by Vallerand, Martineau and Bergevin (2006), “induction is
a threefold process: It is the construction of knowledge, skills and competencies;
socialization in the workplace; and identity transformation.” To illustrate the
construction of knowledge, skills, and competencies, induction is described as a
period of trial and error during which the new teacher develops his “professional
self” (Nault, 1999). As concerns socialization at work, it relates to integration into
a workplace environment, an organizational culture (Weva, 1999). Finally, identity
transformation, which we will emphasize throughout the concept of professional
identity, is associated with a transition from student status to teaching professional
within a specific domain or discipline (Sophie, for example), or again, from the status
of professional in a specific field to teaching professional (Jean, for example).
Although it is widely acknowledged that every new teacher undergoes an induction
stage, certain authors including Huling-Austin (1990) and Letven (1992) argue
that teachers who are in a new position in a new institutional environment are
also in an induction stage. According to Gibson and Hunt (1965), there are three
categories when referring to new teaching personnel: Teachers who are beginning,
those who are continuing, and those who are returning. Based on their individual
paths, their induction needs will differ from one category to the next. It is therefore
important to identify the designated category properly when developing support
measures in order to adequately meet the needs of this new teaching personnel.
THE TEACHING PROFESSION TODAY
For a number of researchers, induction is one stage of the teacher’s professional
development. Interesting concept!
Research by Uwamariya and Mukmurera (2005) presents a synthesis of the main
concepts of professional development seen from two different perspectives: a development perspective and a viewpoint centered on professionalism.
The development perspective encompasses the definitions of professional development that characterize the concept in terms of its stages. Although there are minor
differences between researchers, they generally agree on the survival stage, the
consolidation stage, the diversification or renewal stage and the maturity stage, also
called the professional radiance stage. It all ends with the disengagement stage, that
is, retirement (Katz, 1972; Huberman, 1989; Nault, 1999; Lauzon, 2002). In this sense,
one definition of professional development from a developmental perspective could
be: “The way that teachers develop within current social and personal circumstances
of their life and their experiences within existing educational cultures and contexts”
(Raymond, Butt and Townsend, 1992, p. 143).
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For its part, as regards the perspective centered on professionalism, professional
development is perceived as a dynamic learning process in which a teacher embarks,
alone or with other colleagues, on a quest to acquire greater mastery or understanding
(Duke, 1990). In this sense, professional development is not the result of numerous
years of teaching (Dean, 1991); changes in a teacher’s practice are observable
following a diversity of learning forms. According to Zuzovsky (2001), professional
development can take place through the acquisition of new skills and knowledge
(continuing education, for instance), or it may rest on a reflection on teaching practices,
a point of view that is consistent with the works of Schön (1994).
This reflection on practices can be done individually, although Zola (1992)
considers that the teacher develops himself more through reflective exchanges on
professional practices with colleagues. The richness of the point of view of others
provides the teacher with opportunities to broaden his horizons and, eventually,
modify his own practices. In addition, exchanges alleviate the isolation felt by
teachers, from a perspective of mutual professional development (Nias, 1998). Barbier
and Demailly (1994, p. 65) propose a definition of professional development that
summarizes the perspective centered on professionalism nicely: “A process of
individual and collective transformations of competencies and identity components
that are mobilized or likely to be mobilized, in professional situations’’.
I share common interests with those
who occupy the same position as me;
I see myself as a member of a
professional body and I am
recognized as such by my peers;
In spite of commonalities, I am
distinguishable from others, I
distance myself from others;
I identify with others;
I can relate to my resemblances
[...] professional development can take place through the acquisition of new
skills and knowledge (continuing education, for instance), or it may rest on a
reﬂection on teaching practices, [...].
THE TEACHING PROFESSION TODAY
As underscored by Raymond (2001, p. 23), new college teachers must make
the “transition from their professional identity as specialists (disciplinary or
professional) to their identity as educators”. For instance in Jean’s case, the
transition corresponds to the change in status from political attaché to political
In the past, the definition of professional identity was based on professional status,
characterized by stability over time and the object of a consensus. To illustrate this
point of view, Baillauquès (1990) considers that professional identity is associated
to an individual’s social and professional role, i.e., the way he presents himself in
society (“I am a Science teacher” or “I am a political attaché”).
Today, given the many changes with which the teaching profession is confronted,
among other things, the teacher’s professional identity is also raising questions. An
identity is transformed when in interaction with others and this in turn activates
psychological processes that bring about the creation of a professional identity
(Martineau, Breton and Presseau, 2005, p. 191). (See the following box)
To develop a professional identity, we must make room for exchange sessions with
other players in order to activate the constructive process.
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I maintain my self-image.
In conclusion, we have attempted to define three concepts that are closely related: induction, professional development,
and professional identity. These notions
can have an influence on one another.
For instance, a harmonious induction
constitutes a solid basis for developing
a professional teaching identity, which
in turn can promote a teacher’s commitment to his professional development.
A variety of learning that takes place
within the scope of professional development activities can also contribute to
the consolidation of a teacher’s professional identity.
The personal and professional journeys
of a teacher can provide links between
these concepts that play out differently.
We see Jean as a political attaché who
comes from a family of teachers. In
discussions with family members, he
forged a mental representation of the
teaching profession. Can exchanges of
this nature be considered the beginning of induction? Looking at Sophie,
we believe she began the development
of her professional persona when she
was enrolled in the micro teaching
program in higher education, which in
turn, may have caused her to reflect on
her professional role as a teacher, her
values, the vision she has of her work.
This developing professional identity is
confronted in situations of induction,
where Sophie confronts her self-image
as a teacher to those of other teachers.
Depending on the induction context, she
runs the risk of seeing her commitment
to professional development influenced.
Regardless of the itinerary, we should
never lose sight of the importance of
induction for the evolution of a teacher’s
professional identity and development.
It is all the more crucial in the case of
teachers like Jean who do not have specific teacher training. Here, induction
is twofold: It presupposes an identity
transformation coupled with integration
into a new organization.
Colleagues who can equip themselves
with structured mentoring programs
or induction modules that provide coaching in teaching, may contribute to
accelerating the creation of a strong
professional identity among teachers.
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Professor at the départment de pédagogie of Université de Sherbrooke, Geneviève NAULT works
under the PERFORMA umbrella. Her interest in research relates to induction and the professional
development of teachers as well as the integration of information and communication
technologies (ICT) in higher education, in particular with educational support services and
on-line training. She is a member of Groupe de recherche-action (GRA) of PERFORMA and an
associate member at Centre d'études et de recherche en enseignement supérieur (CERES) at Université
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