Source: Studying Teacher Education, Vol. 7, No. 2, August 2011, 219–233
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
The purpose of this study was to examine the various representations of the author's development as a beginning teacher educator offered through his methodology of self-study through narrative inquiry.
The author is an high school social studies teacher, who returned to the university on a full-time basis in the fall of 2004 to work on his doctorate as a graduate student and teaching assistant.
This article reports on the affective challenges the author experienced while attempting to develop a pedagogy of teacher education during his first three years in teacher preparation.
The following three research questions guided his longitudinal inquiry, ultimately culminating in his dissertation:
(1) How has his vision for teacher education developed?
(2) How has the relationship between his practices and his beliefs evolved?
(3) What representations of his development as a teacher educator does self-study through narrative inquiry yield?
The data for this self-study consisted of written interpretive accounts of the author's experiences which were collected systematically over the course of the study.
Analysis of these accounts revealed how certain ongoing, and at times paradoxical, tensions influenced the author's thinking about his initial practices as a teacher educator.
The author more fully captured the complexity of his transition from classroom teacher to teacher educator, and highlighted some of the affective challenges involved in attempting to align his teaching intents with his teaching practices.
At the same time as he was refining his vision for social studies and coming to understand the potential significance of his teaching, he was also, sometimes paradoxically, exhibiting fear of regression in his work, displaying apathy or exhaustion, exhibiting frustration and restlessness, and struggling to navigate interpersonal relationships with his students.
Fear of Regression
Under the pressure of a more established sense of mission for his work, the author often found himself gripped by fear that he might somehow regress to some of the less favorable vestiges of his former teaching self.
On the one hand, the fear of regression represented a way for him to stay vigilant and cautious as he attempted to resolve the contradictions of his practice.
On the other, he realized the risk of overcompensating.
His fears raise questions about how teacher educators handle the burden of a view of teacher education that sets such high standards, that runs counter to what many preservice teachers expect of teacher education.
Apathy or Exhaustion
The author argued that there were times when he seriously questioned what he accomplished with his student and preservice teachers as a result of his work with them.
As he struggled with these questions, he occasionally displayed signs of apathy and/or exhaustion in his thinking and practices as a teacher educator.
When he did not feel he was making progress or when he felt those under his charge were not fully invested in their work together, he discovered that he sometimes engaged in practices that did not match his vision.
Frustration and Restlessness
Another representation of his development as a beginning teacher educator captured through the methodology he employed for this study centers on the feelings of frustration and restlessness that he exhibited regarding his work.
More specifically, the feelings of frustration seemed to indicate that he did in fact care, while the feelings of restlessness indicated that he sometimes had so much energy that he actually grew impatient to effect change.
A final and related aspect of his development revealed in this inquiry concerns his emotional struggle to navigate interpersonal relationships with his student and preservice teachers.
The dynamics of these relationships were framed, at least in part, by his feelings of fear, apathy or exhaustion, and frustration and restlessness.
Much of his struggle to navigate such interpersonal relationships with his student and preservice teachers was related to the inherent tension he felt in his role as both an advocate and an evaluator.
Some of his difficulty in serving effectively as an advocate and an evaluator was related to his own evolving expectations.
His ideas about what it meant to work with beginning teachers were intimately tied to shifts in his thinking about the purpose of social studies.
The pedagogy the author brought to his work as a teacher educator was predicated on shifting expectations that caused him to interrogate his sense of what to expect from preservice teachers, most of whom were not students teaching in school environments supportive of calls for social reconstruction.
Implications of Findings
The author conclude that awareness of these challenges is important because feelings and emotions constitute filters through which one’s understanding of content and pedagogy is actually mediated with students.
The author found self-study as an especially powerful method to identify and deal with his problems of practice; however, not all beginners engage in such systematic inquiries of their development.
Indeed, it seems that our knowledge of effective teacher education can only be enhanced through additional studies into how the relationships between teacher educators and their student and preservice teachers influence what is learned, and how that learning is understood and enacted.