Rachel’s Literacy Stories: Unpacking One Preservice Teacher’s Moral Perspectives on Literacy Teaching

From Section:
Preservice Teachers
Feb. 28, 2010

Source: Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, Vol. 16, No. 1, (February 2010), 97–109.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

While teacher educators agree that teaching is a profoundly moral activity, little attention has been placed on the moral perspectives about teaching and learning of those entering the teaching workforce.

As a way of illustrating the importance of helping both future teachers become aware of their own moral compasses and teacher educators to understand ways in which such knowledge can support their students, the author uses methods of qualitative inquiry to explore the life history of one European American preservice elementary teacher in the USA.

In examining Rachel’s life story, the author asks:
● How are moral perspectives on literacy teaching and learning embedded within Rachel’s life story?
● What implications for teacher educators are presented by looking closely at the moral perspectives embedded in a preservice teacher’s life story?


A life history interview was the primary means of collecting data. To facilitate interviews, the author developed a life history interview protocol drawing from Paul Thompson’s (2000) ‘Oral History’ protocol. The protocol, used in a semi-structured manner to guide the conversations, was developed around eight categories: demographic information, home life, family activities, childhood activities, school life, work experiences, college and teaching.

In recounting the events of her life, Rachel Rosenberg demonstrates how she uses her own life experiences to frame the moral aspects of her future role as a teacher and especially her perspectives on literacy teaching and learning.


The interpretations offered in this article suggest how stories can be used to explore the moral dimensions of teaching. While this study was situated within the USA, the methods of inquiry and interpretation can be applied and modified to various other teacher education contexts in order to prompt preservice and in-service teachers in more critical forms of engagement with the moral aspects of teaching.

Thompson, P. (2000). The voice of the past: Oral history (3rd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.

Updated: Nov. 14, 2019
Biographies | Literacy | Moral values | Preservice teachers | Student teacher attitudes | Teaching styles