Seeing Transnational Teachers’ Resistant Identity Development Through a Raciolinguistic Learning Ecology

Sol Rheem, Michigan State University

3:15 pm – 3:45 pm (Room 232)



Every day in schools, teachers make decisions on small and large scales about practice. These decisions are inseparable from teachers’ professional identities. Therefore, teacher identity is a key component to understand in studies of education and schooling. To this end, multidisciplinary research on teacher identity has emerged in the recent literature about language learning and teaching (De Costa & Norton, 2017). De Costa & Norton (2017) emphasize the importance of transdisciplinary and ecological approaches to studying teacher identity. Teachers’ identities are shaped by and shape in turn the sociopolitical and sociocultural contexts in which they teach and learn. In the context of U.S public schools and the education of emerging bi/multilingual immigrant students, race, language, and transnationalism intersect to structure the ways that multilingual students and their teachers are positioned. Taking an ecological approach to identity research can reveal these interactions – how abstract yet very real ideologies shape the settings in which teachers learn, and how individuals, in enacting their identities, shape and transform these settings (McKinney de Royston & Nasir, 2017). In this paper, I propose a theoretical framework that uses McKinney de Royston & Nasir (2017)’s theory of racialized learning ecologies to understand the relationship between raciolinguistic ideologies (Flores & Rosa, 2015), transnationalism, and teacher identity within language teachers’ professional contexts. I then demonstrate how this framework can be used to understand transnational language teachers’ resistant identities using Canagarajah (2012)’s autoethnographical narrative of his own professionalization. Finally, I close with a consideration of future research directions that can amplify the narratives of transnational teachers who develop and enact resistant identities within raciolinguistic educational contexts. This paper has implications for language teacher education programs that seek to develop teacher advocates for educational equity and serves as a call to further explore transnational teacher identities in pursuit of such goals.