The Relevance of a Migration Background to the Professional Identity of Teachers

Christoph Bressler, Carolin Rotter


Immigrant teachers face several specific expectations from policy makers, colleagues, as well as the media. Often new hopes are pinned on them for teaching (ethnically) diverse learners. Their professional identity is inevitably linked to these expectations. In this regard, this paper discusses the findings of a qualitative study exploring the professional identities of immigrant teachers. Furthermore, it draws implications for teacher education. Reflecting on our research findings, we illustrate two types of professional identities: Teachers who accept the “special skills” ascribed to them, and where the migration background constitutes the core of their professional identity, as well as others, who reject the expectations, and appeal to the pedagogical skills they share with their colleagues without a migration background. Given our findings, future teachers need more support when it comes to reflecting their own biography, political and public expectations, and the bearings on their professional identity.

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Copyright (c) 2017 International Journal of Higher Education

International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email:

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