Teaching, A Love Story: Narrative Life Histories of Five English Teachers

Taylor A Norman, Purdue University


Past research about teacher identity has provided a wealth of well-informed and interesting narratives about early career teachers (Beijaard, Meijer, & Verloop, 2004). Feelings of tension and transition experienced while a student becomes teacher have the possibility to inform a pre-service teacher’s decision to either acquire the teacher identity fully or renounce its expectations immediately (Alsup, 2006; Danielewicz, 2001). By collecting the narratives of later career teachers, this work asks five English teachers with fifteen or more years of teaching experience to narrate their professional life stories, detailing what it was about the teacher's identity that informed their decisions to return to, rather than resign from, their classrooms year after year. Because the stories we tell of our experiences matter, because they narrate our identities, they give our lives purpose, intention, and conviction, narrative inquiry as a research methodology seemed only appropriate (Barone, 2001; Burner, 1990; McAdams & McLean, 2013; Polkinghorne, 1988). This methodology allowed the participants to tell a story of their lives as teachers, referred to as teaching life stories in this work (Atkinson, 2007). The common teaching life story found across the five teachers was an emotional narrative of endurance, as each explained what experiences he/she had while coming to call his/herself teacher and coming to fall in love with her/his teacher self. This dissertation recounts and interprets these stories, ending by summarizing how what was learned from them might inform teacher educators, pre-service, and in-service English teachers.




Alsup, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Teacher education|Secondary education

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