Our identities have changed somewhat as a result of the many changes to our professional routines, norms and practices coupled with changes and adjustments in our personal routines. Our omni-presence at home means we ‘wear many different hats’ at home while we work or just be at home and it can be difficult to switch hats or switch identities when we don’t physically leave our homes to ‘go to work’. The lines have been blurred on more than one occasion over the past number of months on who is who and in what context we are operating. Family roles, relationships and responsibilities sometimes overtake the professional role and responsibilities or vice versa and the juggling and tight-rope walking can be challenging.
Culturally, much has changed for many of us. In many ways our teacher educator cultural capital has been stripped back and reshaped into another format. Much of the objectified capital and institutionalised capital we normally recognised and identified with as teacher educators has been temporarily amended while the embodied capital evident in our long-lasting dispositions and viewpoints has changed a little but remains as the foundation and the scaffold for who we are and supports our positionality. While we are of course still teacher educators we ‘look’ and ‘feel different’ because our anchors to physical campuses have been pulled up and we have drifted away from the familiarity of the physical spaces and interactions that we knew and were comfortable in and that defined our professional identities to different spaces where definitions are more obscure or sometimes don’t exist at all. It does feel sometimes that the different spaces are not really anchored anywhere as such and sometimes it feels as if we have been cast adrift into the great unknown of a virtual world where we may float aimlessly for hours trying to put some shape on our days, be productive and account for ourselves. At other times it feels as if
"we are in a pedal boat pedalling furiously as we meet for the umpteenth time on Teams or whatever platform we use, teach, assess, plan for different delivery, edit content etc until fatigue sets in that reduces our pedalling to a laboured limp as we drag our exhausted and fuzzy brains away from the blue lights of the screens".
We must lay down some boundaries as we face into the next academic year if we are to continue to survive in these new identities. Our agency as teacher educators is a bit different too. There are many restrictions on us now that limit and constrain the agency we previously had or influenced how we acted and we may have to be creative and think things out a little differently before we act or make professional teacher educator decisions into the future. Teacher educators like teachers rely a lot on face to face interaction and on teacher-educator-student relationships to inform our work and support our thinking and actions. Sociologically the concept of habitus (Bourdieu, 1977) is somewhat contested, possibly enigmatic, latent and invisible. Sweetman (2009) describes it as being an individual’s orientation to or way of being in the world, predisposed ways of thinking, acting and moving in and out of a social environment. Now, more than ever, as we look ahead it is incumbent on us as teacher educators to think about our habitus, to take responsibility for it in all its forms, new and not new and to own it. While our compass needle may not be pointing in exactly the same direction as it was four months ago it will be pointed in some direction in September and we will have to move in that direction. New semester, new habitus, new us, here we come.
Bourdieu, P. (1977). Outline of a theory of practice. Cambridge: University Press.