The “Intimate Outsider”? Reflections on Researching Teacher Communities, by an Ex-Teacher

In 2019, I spent about nine months visiting urban secondary schools in Malaysia, spending most of my time at two schools. There, I observed and recorded teachers’ meetings, hung around in the staffroom, watched significant school events and interviewed the teachers before I left the field.
Like Sophia, I too had to prepare myself to navigate the insider-outsider tension. Like my participants, I was an English teacher and a Malaysian. Like them, I had done my first degree locally. But unlike them, I am currently a doctoral student at Cambridge, and I had also studied in Singapore, both of which, are generally perceived as markers of “eliteness.”

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