Using narrative inquiry (Chase, 2011; Clandinin & Connelly, 2000), this dissertation investigates the stories new teachers encounter during their licensure program and first years of teaching, how those stories work on the identities of new teachers, and the ways these teachers engage with those stories as they construct, revise, and/or smooth their teacher identities. This exploration is framed by key concepts from sociocultural theory: figured worlds (Holland, Skinner, Lachicotte Jr., & Cain, 1998), communities of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Tustig, 2005), and signs (Bakhtin & Holquist, 1983; Vygotsky, 1978). I also utilize critical sociocultural theory (Lewis, Enciso, & Moje, 2007) in recognition of the way broader systems of hierarchy, hegemony, and power intersect with identity and agency. Fifteen early career teachers educated in the same licensure program participated in one-on-one interviews where they shared stories from student teaching and their first years as a teacher. Nine of the fifteen teachers then participated in a series of workshops that utilized story circles (Cohen-Cruz, 2010; O’Neal, 2011) and Theatre of the Oppressed games (Boal, 1993; 2002) to collectively explore stories around specific themes including caring, relationships, power, and race. Analysis includes the use of ethnodrama (Denzin, 2015; Mienczakowski, 2003; Saldaña, 2005) as an arts-based method to explore aesthetic, embodied constructions of understanding in recognition that knowledge is always contextual, experienced, and mediated (Bresler, 2004; Dewey, 1934; hooks, 1994). I argue that the stories new teachers tell have practical and material consequences that contribute to a new teacher’s sense of belonging and capability for success. Further, new teachers should be aware of the ideological positioning that occurs in storytelling and the agentic moves they can make during storytelling. More specifically, these stories show how teachers of color must work within the cultural world of teaching and are unequally put in a position to use their limited cultural capital as new teachers to critique what it means to be seen and valued within a system that was built upon and furthers white supremacy (Ladson-Billings, 2014; Thandeka, 1999). It is the perspectives of new teachers engaging in an induction process that will help the teaching profession and educational researchers understand the cultural world of teaching, the cultural ideologies that are enacted in the practice of teaching, and the stories that get told about that practice. The sociocultural landscape that new teachers navigate as inductees reveals the importance of storying their own identities in efforts to address power and declare agency that supports professional growth within local and grand narratives of teachers and teaching.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2019. Major: Education, Curriculum and Instruction. Advisor: Cynthia Lewis. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 288 pages.
The Storied Lives of New Teachers: Sociocultural Enactments of Professional Identities During New Teacher Induction.
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