Exploring Ethical Tensions on the Path to Becoming a Teacher

Sep. 01, 2011

Source: Teacher Education Quarterly, Vol. 38, No. 4, Fall 2011
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The article explores the authors', two teacher educators’ and a pre-service teacher’s, understanding of the ethical dilemmas, obligations, and plotlines that emerged in the experiences of a pre-service teacher as she began to develop her identity as a teacher.

The inquiry, based in narrative inquiry (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000), used the analysis of narratives from a preservice teacher candidate, Eliza, and responses to them by teacher educators, Stefinee and Shaun, to explore the intertwining issues of identity and ethics.
These responses take the form of further narrative on the part of the teacher researchers and responses attending to the blogs Eliza posted.
The participants are Eliza, a preservice teacher who is being educated in teacher education at a small college in a medium sized community in the Western United States.
Shaun is a beginning mathematics teacher educator in an elementary teacher education program in Western Canada. Stefinee has been a faculty member in teacher education at a large private faith-based institution.


This inquiry highlights the authors tensions and understandings of ethics and relationship on our paths to being and becoming teacher educators.
These spaces of ethical tensions were illuminated first, as they laid Eliza’s narratives alongside Shaun’s. Shaun’s story reminded the authors of the need to create safe spaces for children. Stefinee’s story reminds them of the tensions that programmatic constraints cause in the relational lives of preservice teachers and teacher educators.

Eliza’s question about her own negative feelings toward a teacher and its impact on her learning content in teacher education raises an ethical dilemma for the authors as teacher educators. As teacher educators they desire preservice teachers to create classrooms that support ethical relationships with children.
Eliza’ s surprise at her English as a Second Language (ESL) students’ performance uncovers the ethical tension concerning whether teacher educators provide safe spaces for teacher candidates to reveal themselves.
For without ethical spaces where preservice teachers feel accepted and acceptable, misunderstanding of content and experience flourish and ultimately impact the future practice of perservice teachers.

Finally, the third interruption reminds the authors of the ethical obligations that they owe each other as teacher and teacher educators in meeting their obligations to children. It reminds teacher educators that they may often need teacher candidates to forgive them.
The authors believe that by engaging in experience, those in this paper and the reader’s own, and by engaging in retellings such as this one, teacher educators might shape a possibility in their own experience for reliving and developing ethical relationships with preservice teachers.

Updated: Feb. 28, 2017