Lärare i en ny tid : Om grundskollärares förhandlingar av professionella identiteter

Sammanfattning: In the past two decades the Swedish compulsory school for students aged 7 to 16 has undergone major processes of reform and change. On a structural level these have ushered in a new era with a fundamentally changed assignment for the schools and its teachers. In this thesis, however, it is assumed that the teachers as individual actors and as groups have agency to accomplish change and alter structures. The thesis has been written within a several years’ inter­active research project with teachers from three compulsory schools. Based on data created in the project on how new and changing groups and working groups within teachers’ work lead to an extended assignment, the study focuses teachers’ negotiation of professional identities regarding the entire work situation. Etienne Wenger’s (1998) social theory on identity, entitled “Communities of Practice”, is used to deepen the understanding of the data. In the framework of an interactive research project the overall aim of the thesis is to describe and analyze how teachers negotiate professional identities in compulsory school. The aim is also to describe and analyze teachers’ learning and development of knowledge in the project. The central research question is: How and about what do teachers negotiate professional identities in different communities of practice? By using the interactive research approach the goal has been to develop a democratic dialogue and learning processes together with the participating teachers. One ambition is to enhance the knowledge of teachers as co-researchers within research projects and as teacher-researchers at work in school. The fora of the interactive project were informal talks, dialogues for learning, individual interviews and focus groups. The results of the study show that teachers negotiate professional identities in a flexible expanding multimembership of communities of practice. As brokers of information and knowledge between and within communities of practice at school, and from various identity positions, the teachers negotiate overlapping identities. Memberships in communities for adults only are growing in relation to teachers’ work regarding the entire work situation. The study’s main conclusion is that teachers in the new era negotiate identities within a web of tensions between fragmentation and coherence of the complexity of the work in its entirety through the multimembership in communities of practice. The thesis proposes that an awareness of complexity is fundamental, and that such an understanding can be enhanced by the teachers by developing themselves as brokers and by their reification of boundary objects within a complex multi­membership. Analysis of data shows that teachers in the interactive project have had the opportunity to further develop competences to negotiate identities as teacher-researchers at work in school. Data from the project are moreover analyzed within the context of globalized and diversified structural changes such as decentralization, economic transformations, cultural standardization, the individua­­­­lized knowledge society and the reflective society. A conclusion is that teachers seem to operate within an increasing globalization of the teaching profession and towards identities as globalized teachers.