This study of a group of first year undergraduate student teachers seeks to explore the development of their professional identity as beginner teachers during the initial stages of their three-year programme. The stimulus for the study was an apparent struggle students experienced with their development of a learner identity in Higher Education, alongside visualising themselves as teachers operating in the classroom. Questionnaires and naturally occurring data linked to a module involving reflection and developing agency as a learner, were collated and analysed using a grounded theory approach. Interviews were analysed using Atlas ti and codes used to identify emerging themes. Findings indicated that it is important to discuss teacher identity in the context of existing identities students demonstrate as these are challenged on the journey to becoming a teacher. Initially, students focus on their outward appearance, hence the title ‘choosing some teacher cardigans’, as they emphasise the importance of looking like a teacher, at this stage of their identity development. The complexity of this journey is apparent, as is the need to examine identity development as an integral part of Initial Teacher Education.
Identity; student teacher; placement; school; concept builder.