Teachers and supervisors negotiating identities of experience and power in feedback talk
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Donaghue, H. (2020) 'Teachers and supervisors negotiating identities of experience and power in feedback talk', The Modern Language Journal, 104(2), pp. 401-417.
This article focuses on the identities constructed and negotiated during work-based talk between in-service English language teachers and a supervisor during dyadic post-observation feedback meetings. Meetings were recorded with participants working in a tertiary institution in a Gulf state. Microanalysis of discourse excerpts shows how both participants (i.e., supervisor and teacher) negotiate identities of power and experience. Analysis reveals that identities are fluid and co-constructed and that power can shift between interactants, regardless of institutional status. Analysis is framed within the ambiguous but influential role of feedback and aims to understand how identities shape and are shaped by the goal of the meeting. In this context, identities of experience and power are prioritized, so feedback is primarily evaluative, despite institutional requirements that a focus on teacher development should be included. This compromises the ultimate aim of improving teaching and learning within the institution. Implications of this study include practical recommendations for supervisor training and critical review of institutional observation forms as well as a call for more language teacher identity research to focus on in-service teachers and on situated work-based talk.