The Thread that Makes the Cloth: Narrative as the Fabric of our Teaching Selves

2018-07-27T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Kate Sjostrom
Students enter teacher preparation programs with internalized narratives of who they will be as teachers only to encounter many more narratives of teacher identity in their education programs, in their field experiences, and in public conversations on education. For some students, these narratives are ultimately reconcilable and the transition from student to teacher is a relatively smooth one. For others, tensions between the narratives prove a source of stress or are even insurmountable, resulting in exit from the profession. This dissertation reports on a research study aimed at describing how writing teacher identity narratives are constructed and how such narratives become entrenched or revised after teachers engage in analysis of their own narratives. In an effort to further explore and illustrate the nature of research participants’ writing teacher identity development, the author has breached the canonical state of academic writing. Resisting a simplifying through-line, she lingers in and responds to the many identity narratives she and her research participants carry. In doing so, she tries to practice narrative inquiry in its purest form; she tells stories about the participants and about herself, for her and her students’ stories have become inevitably knitted together. Findings include the interconnectedness of identity and language; the interdependence of writing and writing teacher identity construction, as well as the interdependence of teaching writing pedagogy and writing teacher identity construction; the collaborative nature of learning experiences; and the potential for teacher-writing to build, over time, teachers’ professional advocacy.