Negotiating Identities for Mathematics Teaching in the Context of Professional Development

In this article, we present an analytical approach for documenting the identities for teaching that mathematics teachers negotiate as they participate in two or more communities that define high-quality teaching differently. Drawing on data from the first two years of a collaboration with a group of middle-school mathematics teachers, we focus on a critical initial condition for teachers to improve their practice—determining that the effort required is worthwhile. Our analysis indicates that the teachers were constructing distinct identities for teaching mathematics as they worked in the institutional context of the school and the context of ongoing professional development. The results of this paper speak directly to a central issue that arises when supporting teachers' efforts to improve their instructional practices: their motivation for affiliating with a vision of teaching that involves centering instruction on student thinking.