A drama of selves: Investigating teacher identity development from dialogical and complexity perspectives

Main Article Content

Alastair Henry


Identity is of increasing interest in teacher education. Crucial for resilience, the development of a coherent professional identity has been characterized as emerging from tensions between multiple and sometimes conflicting conceptions of what it means to be someone who teaches (Akkerman & Meijer, 2011). While light is being shed on these often antagonistic relations, less is known about the dynamics of identity formation and transformation. Providing a contribution to work on language teacher identity, in this single case study Hermans’ (2008) concept of the dialogical self is combined with complexity principles in an investigation of changes in the emerging professional identity of a pre-service English teacher during a practicum. Drawing on intra- and inter-personal data, experiences of learning to become a person who teaches English are conceptualized as a drama that is played out between different and sometimes unaligned selves. Analyses show how this inner drama maps onto the landscape of an emerging teacher identity, how tensions can be understood systemically, and how a teacher identity system can have a signature dynamic.


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How to Cite
Henry, A. (2019). A drama of selves: Investigating teacher identity development from dialogical and complexity perspectives. Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching, 9(2), 263-285. https://doi.org/10.14746/ssllt.2019.9.2.2
Author Biography

Alastair Henry, University West, Trollhättan

Alastair Henry is Professor of Language Education at University West, Sweden. His research focuses on the psychology of language learning and teaching. With Zoltán Dörnyei and Peter MacIntrye, he is the coeditor of Motivational Dynamics in Language Learning (2015, Multilingual Matters), and with Martin Lamb, Kata Csizér, and Stephen Ryan, he is a coeditor of The Palgrave Macmillan Handbook of Motivation for Language Learning (2020, Palgrave MacMillan). With Zoltán Dörnyei and Christine Muir, he cowrote Motivational Currents in Language Learning: Frameworks for Focused Interventions (2016, Routledge).

Contact details: University West, Division of Educational Science and Languages, Gustava Melins gata 2, 461 32 Trollhättan, Sweden (alastair.henry@hv.se)


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