Elementary preservice teachers' constructions of themselves as students and as teachers: A collaborative narrative autobiographical approach

2007 2007

Other formats: Order a copy

Abstract (summary)

Elementary preservice teachers often struggle with their relationships with their students. Research suggests that they have internalized robust teaching scripts that limit their learning of progressive pedagogical methods. As a result of these scripts and relational patterns learned in their family of origin they become progressively more authoritarian and controlling under the situational pressures of traditional classrooms.

From the perspective of narrative psychology our sense of self is constructed from meanings that we attach to critical early childhood events, the stories we tell about ourselves, and the way we habitually position ourselves towards others. This critical phenomenological study explored with preservice teachers the ways in which the meanings they attached to early childhood events influence who they become as teachers and how they relate to students.

Fourteen preservice elementary school teachers selected from a teacher education program shared their life stories during an interview prior to a two-day orientation circle meeting at the beginning of their prepracticum semester. Participants met in two support circles meeting four times during the semester. The interviews and circle meetings were tape-recorded.

The data were analyzed to identify their stories and the way they navigated the discourses of power in their narratives and any emerging cultural themes. The data from five of the participants were analyzed in detail using Stanton Wortham's tools to determine how they were positioning themselves within their narratives and in the storytelling event.

All the participants identified critical early childhood events that influence how they construct themselves as students and teachers. They employed the same discipline practices that they experienced in early childhood. Binary opposites of culturally valued concepts were used in self-construction. Their narratives revealed multiple, interwoven, mutually supportive, conflicted and contradictory stories and clashing societal discourses as they struggled to become teachers in relation to students.

Implications for teacher education included using circles along with written collaborative autobiographies and case studies of young students to identify and critically analyze the discourses that interpellate themselves and their students. Further research is required to follow students through two years of teaching. More diverse groups should be studied.

Indexing (details)

Preschool education;
Elementary education;
Teacher education
0518: Preschool education
0524: Elementary education
0530: Teacher education
Identifier / keyword
Education; Classroom relationships; Critical early childhood events; Discursive production of students & teachers; Elementary preservice teachers; Narrative self-construct; Preservice teachers; Student teachers
Elementary preservice teachers' constructions of themselves as students and as teachers: A collaborative narrative autobiographical approach
Burnett, Josephine
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 69/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Craig, Grace
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
Access the complete full text

You can get the full text of this document if it is part of your institution's ProQuest subscription.

Try one of the following:

  • Connect to ProQuest through your library network and search for the document from there.
  • Request the document from your library.
  • Go to the ProQuest login page and enter a ProQuest or My Research username / password.