Lived Experiences of Professional Identity Tensions of Experienced Teachers: An Existential-Hermeneutic Phenomenological Inquiry

Date
2023-08
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Abstract

This existential-hermeneutic phenomenological inquiry investigates lived experiences of professional identity tensions of experienced teachers from the perspective of existentialists using the Heideggerian hermeneutic phenomenological research methodology. The two research questions addressed in this investigation are: (1) What is it like for experienced teachers to experience professional identity tensions during their first five years in the teaching profession as beginning teachers and after their first five years in the teaching profession as experienced teachers? And (2) What are existential meanings of lived experiences of professional identity tensions of experienced teachers? (i.e., how are lived experiences of professional identity tensions of experienced teachers understood from existential perspectives?) The participants of this study include five experienced U.S.A. teachers who have more than five years of teaching experience in the K–12 U.S.A. schools and have experienced professional identity tensions during their first five years in the teaching profession as beginning teachers and after their first five years in the profession as experienced teachers. The teacher participants’ accounts of tensions are interpreted by drawing on the philosophy of Nietzsche and Sartre. The findings reveal six main existential themes, of which two themes – namely, Nietzsche’s camel and Nietzsche’s lion-child (or the noble) – are identified from the experiential accounts of tensions the teacher participants encounter during their first five years in the profession, and four themes – namely, Nietzsche’s camel, Nietzsche’s lion-child (or the noble), Sartre’s bad faith, and Sartre’s freedom – distilled from the experiential accounts of tensions the teacher participants experience after their first five years in the profession. The findings also indicate that during their first five years and after their first five years in the career, the teacher participants have either similar or different kinds of professional identity tensions; however, their lines of reasoning and thinking, their attitudes toward the tensions remain somewhat consistent throughout; that is, their nature seemingly does not change much over time. These findings make original contributions to the literature and have implications for practice and research.


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Keywords
professional identity tensions,, experienced teachers,, existentialism, hermeneutic phenomenological methodology
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