High School Teachers’ Identities: Constructing Civic Selves

Kathryn M. Obenhain, Asta Balkutė, Erin Vaughn, Shannon White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Research suggests that teachers play a role in the type of citizenship education implemented in schools. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore how two high school teachers understood and enacted their civic identities as a dimension of their teacher identities. Findings suggest that factors contributing to an individual’s civic identity take on a unique perspective when filtered through the development and enactment of teacher professional identity. Participants’ civic identities are discussed through the two dimensions of belonging and responsibility to the community. They ground their civic identities in the local community, encouraging their students to fit into and serve the local community. Participants supported democratic ideals including justice and diversity, but rejected an American identity that they equated with negativity, consumerism, and inhospitable to those who are unfamiliar. In-service teacher education would benefit from building on and reframing teachers’ existing community connections to incorporate participatory action research (PAR) and critical service-learning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-278
JournalThe High School Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes



  • Civic education
  • high school
  • civic identity
  • teacher identity

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