A NARRATIVE INQUIRY INTO THE IDENTITY MAKING OF TWO EARLY-CAREER TEACHERS: UNDERSTANDING THE PERSONAL IN PERSONAL PRACTICAL KNOWLEDGE
This narrative inquiry began with queries into the identity-making experiences of two teachers, Anna and Penny, at the beginning of their careers. Through weekly research conversations over 2 years, they told stories of their experiences in school. Over time, it became clear that their personal experiences with their families outside school shaped who they were in their classrooms with children. Their professional identities—their stories to live by—began on personal knowledge landscapes and then were recomposed into professional knowledge landscapes. They experienced tension when their familial stories of what it meant to be a teacher were interrupted or challenged. From the midst of teachers’, children’s, and families’ lives together in schools, Anna and Penny worked to make sense of these tension-filled experiences. Travelling between each others’ worlds was complex. Their personal experiences helped them make sense of difficult situations in their classrooms and contributed to their teacher knowledge. Connelly and Clandinin refer to this form of teacher knowledge as “personal practical knowledge” (1988, p. 25). The research presented in this dissertation attends to the personal practical knowledge, the intellectual work, that Anna and Penny used as beginning teachers. This research contributes to the larger practical and social aspects of beginning teachers. Stories of attrition and retention, struggle and survival, have iii shaped previous research literature as well as the professional practical landscape where beginning teachers work. Attending to ways beginning teachers make sense of these stories around them, and the stories of tension in their first classrooms, opens possibilities for teacher educators, administrators, policy makers, colleagues, families, and students to create spaces for new stories to be told. In any new situation uncertainty will occur. This research acknowledges that tension is inherent in any new situation and emphasizes the possibility of sustaining beginning teachers in their stories of themselves as teachers in the midst of that tension. This inquiry makes openings for conversations about the importance of acknowledging familial and personal stories as part of what sustains a person at the beginning of a teaching career.
teacher identity, narrative inquiry, early career teachers, teacher education, sustaining teachers, teachers as curriculum makers
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)