Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


School of Education


This dissertation unveils the identity formation and negotiation processes of teacher candidates, through their practice with English Language Learners (ELLs) in a field-based teacher preparation program. Identity, like learning, is socially constructed and continuously negotiated by someone's engagement in a community (Wenger, 1998). Thus, sociocultural theory and specifically the theoretical construct of communities of practice (Wenger, 1998), guided the exploration of candidates' teaching identities to reveal the processes of becoming a teacher of ELLs. I conducted a qualitative case study to examine candidates' teaching practices with ELLs at a surface level and the (re)construction of their teaching identities at a deeper level. I conducted individual interviews with two graduate and three undergraduate elementary candidates, and collected archival data, including candidates' reflections and lesson plans, throughout their time in the program. My analysis involved a diligent examination of candidates' actions, values, beliefs, and D/discourses on ELLs across time, to explain how candidates' teaching identities evolved.I discovered that interactions with ELLs, cooperating teachers, teacher educators, and other educational stakeholders, allowed candidates to negotiate their teaching identities and make a shift from being elementary classroom teachers to teachers of ELLs. Toward the end of their teacher preparation program, particularly during their internship, candidates begun to change their Discourse; from using an academic Discourse during their first year to using a more teacher-like Discourse during their last year (Gee, 2014). My research holds implications for teacher preparation programs and ELLs and calls for promoting candidates' teaching identity development by balancing instruction for candidates between ESL theory and fieldwork in culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms, and by designing university courses that promote reflective and interactive activities.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.