Embracing the evolution of teaching identity through reflection beyond Covid-19

Kennelly, Ita and Schalk, Ana (2021) Embracing the evolution of teaching identity through reflection beyond Covid-19.


The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the higher education landscape has been momentous and its reach continues to be felt as academic institutions and staff continue to adapt to changes to the student experience, to teaching, to learning and assessment among other areas. As events unfolded, the emphasis on the nature of the change and requirements on lecturers shifted from an emergency remote teaching (ERT) to a more long-term view (online pivot) of how to teach more effectively in the online environment.

Beyond the development of new teaching, learning and assessment practices, the move to online learning has presented more fundamental changes to lecturer identity (Quigley, 2011; Glover, 2018) and well-being due to an intensification of work and continued uncertainty and change. This paper argues that there is a need now for considered practitioner reflection as part of the transition to online teaching and any future transitions back to classroom delivery (Avidov-Ungar, 2018). We argue that reflection offers an important opportunity for lecturers to revisit their teaching practice, their teaching values, and teaching identity and that it is important to take time out to consider how they have evolved their teaching within this new context. This is about seeing the implications of Covid-19 as an opportunity to reconceptualise practice and as a key opportunity to learn (Englund et al,2017). It is about moving beyond a phase of initial adaptation to embracing new skills and considering how and where they sit within the lecturer role.

We also argue that practitioner reflection has a role in supporting resilience and well-being particularly in helping to adjust to the changes, increased ambiguity, and additional workload. A key outcome of practitioner reflection is the ability to acknowledge challenges, individual responses to these challenges (including emotions) and finally to consider actions that can be taken to support practice. Through this process there is an opportunity therefore to plan more effectively and to manage further changes and uncertainty with more agency and self-efficacy (Forum, 2020). This can help support overall well-being and build resilience.

This paper discusses models of reflective practice and suggests an approach to reflection tailored to current events which, it is hoped, will support lecturers to come out the other side of this experience with a greater sense of achievement, positivity and hope.


Avidov-Ungar, O., & Forkosh-Baruch, A. (2018). Professional identity of teacher educators in the digital era in light of demands of pedagogical innovation. Teaching and Teacher Education, 73, 183-191.

Englund, C., Olofsson, A., & Price, L. (2017). Teaching with technology in higher education: understanding conceptual change and development in practice. Higher Education Research & Development, 36, 73-87.

Forum, T. N. (2020). Reflecting and Learning: The move to remote/online teaching and learning in Irish higher education.

Glover, H., Myers, F., & Collins, H. (2018). Academic Identities and The Digital Self? A Cross Cultural Study of Digitisation in Higher Education Teaching. 12th International Conference on e-Learning, Madrid.

Quigley, S. (2011). Academic Identity: A modern perspective. Educate Journal, 11, 20-30.

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