Fostering inclusive knowledge democracies: layering identities and situating practices of novice teacher researchers

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Teacher action research is an important element for democratizing educational research, yet teachers often view it as unmanageable atop their other priorities. Grounded in sociocultural theories of identity and situated practice, this paper employs qualitative methods to explore how 16 novice teacher-researchers navigated their distinct identities as experienced teacher and novice teacher-researcher and improvised situated practices to generate empirical knowledge around teaching and learning in their specific contexts. Findings from this study reinforce the primacy of the teacher role and identity emanating from a student-first mindset. This mindset mediated the situated teacher-researcher practices and perspectives as the teachers struggled to maintain their professional identity and adopt the new role and identity of teacher-researcher. We argue that teacher-researchers need opportunities to study the work and experiences of others like themselves who are navigating identities, improvising practices, and making meaning out of data drawn from their own context. These findings are rooted in the realities of teachers’ day-to-day work and offer teacher educators and professional developers some direction for partnering with novice teacher-researchers.

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