Becoming Stories: Creating narrative spaces in initial teacher education

Alison Strangeways

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    Initial Teacher Education (ITE) occurs in a predominantly analytic space, in common with most higher education provision. Creating and legitimising narrative learning community spaces would result in the foregrounding of professional identity formation across the ITE curriculum. The resulting systematic attention to the impact of teacher identity on professional practice will develop teachers who are more resilient and better able to negotiate the theory-to-practice shifts required of classroom-ready teachers (Johnson, Down, Le Cornu, Peters, Sullivan, Pearce & Hunter, 2010; Hooley, 2007). I present this case for narrative pedagogies by offering two stories from my own journey of increasing commitment to narrative pedagogies. Each story is paired with a preservice teacher narrative from a significant stage in their identity development. And each pair is followed by an analytic interlude that frames the accounts in the literature on narrative ways of knowing and professional identity development. I contend that three things need to occur to establish effective and sustainable narrative learning community spaces. First, teacher educators need to embrace the use of narrative ways of knowing in our pedagogical practice. Second, we need to recognise the embodied complexity of the teaching context, and how narrative can be used to develop preservice teachers’ capacity to navigate these ‘swampy lowlands’ of practice (Schon, 1983, p. 42). Third, we need to teach the skills of narrative writing and interpretation across the ITE curriculum to equip preservice teachers to negotiate their teacher identity and become resilient and creative practitioners. In presenting this series of vignettes about storying in teacher learning, I intend to offer new insights and raise new questions about how narrative can respond to the current needs of initial teacher education (Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group, 2014; Sellars, 2014).
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)66-78
    Number of pages13
    JournalLearning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social contexts
    Issue numberSpecial Issue: Narrative Inquiry
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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