Term of Award

Spring 2006

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 1

Mary Ellen Cosgrove

Committee Member 2

William M. Reynolds

Committee Member 3

Rosemarie Stallworth-Clark

Abstract

This is a study of elementary teachers' identity development, personal and professional knowledge, and love of teaching. The participants of this inquiry are six teachers who teach at Hesse Elementary School in Savannah, Georgia. Diane, Julie, Mary, Susan, Uticia, and Yolanda provide viable insights about their journey as teachers. Their stories offer narrative truisms concerning their identity evolution and the transformation of their professional personality as they live their lives in the classroom. William Ayres' (1989, 2001, 2004, 2004) work on teacher identity and teacher knowledge development provides a framework for this study. Robert Fried's (2001) devotion to passion for teaching also informs this inquiry. Amid the overwhelming obstacles teachers face each day, the nuances of these teachers' experiences of developing passion for teaching or becoming dispassionate about teaching are found in the stories of my teacher participants. From the desire to become teachers at their early ages to the joys and sorrows they have experienced or are experiencing, my participants divulge what it takes to be a teacher today. Sonia Nieto's (2003) lament that, Even under the best of circumstances, teaching is a demanding job, and most teachers do not work under the best of circumstances. The enthusiasm and idealism that bring them to teaching quickly dissipate for many (p. 3), supports the need for more research in the area of teacher burnout and attrition. Found within the lived experiences of Susan, Mary, Uticia, Diane, and Yolanda are antidotes for addressing the demands of teaching. In order to present viable narratives, I utilize Jean Clandinin and Michael Connelly's (2000) narrative inquiry methods to collect the stories of my participants. Participant profiles, autobiographical writings, and reflective journals, are presented in this study. This inquiry also includes interviews, informal conversations and participant observations. Common pedagogical beliefs or disbeliefs are revealed in this study. This study is significant for pre-service and in-service teachers, educators, administrators, and policy makers. For pre-service teachers, this study helps prepare them to develop courage, knowledge, and passion to meet the challenge in the teaching profession. For in-service teachers, the experiences of my teacher participants reveal how passionate veteran teachers go against the grain (Hooks, 1994, p. 203) and fight oppressive mandates with silent opposition. For educators, narrative texts offer additional information about what keeps teachers going (Nieto, 2003). For administrators, my participants' stories provide a much needed megaphone for teachers' voices that are often silenced in fear. These important axioms give administrators guidance for encouraging, supporting, and sometimes defending their teachers. For policy makers, critical nuances concerning teacher identity and professional development reveal what works in my participants' classrooms and provide viable information for curriculum reform. In a time when teacher shortages plague our nations' schools, passionate teachers hold viable information for strengthening teacher commitment to the teaching profession. This narrative inquiry provides keys, often overlooked, for unlocking a treasure chest of encouragement for pre-service and in-service teachers who aspire to make a difference in the world.

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