Date of Award

Summer 8-11-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Laurie Brantley-Dias

Second Advisor

Dr. Mary B. Shoffner

Third Advisor

Dr. Deron R. Boyles

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Ewa McGrail

Abstract

This narrative research study investigated the identity development process of a group of beginning teachers participating in Teach For America (TFA). The participants (n=3) were middle or high school teachers who had taught in high needs, low income urban school settings. They had also blogged on the “Teach For Us” blog hosting site about their experiences in the classroom as beginning teachers. Through the lenses of Sfard and Prusak’s (2005) narrative theory of identity and Mead’s (1934) social theory of identity and the role of the “Generalized Other”, narrative research techniques were used to analyze the stories found in their blog postings. Their stories show that these teachers were ill prepared for the realities they would face and that teaching in a challenging, high poverty, urban school setting was at times overwhelming. The duality and struggle between their Generalized Other concepts of a TFA corps member and who they were becoming as a teacher was found throughout their stories. The stories also show that over time, each became more confident in their abilities and in who they were becoming as a teacher. With this growth came more job satisfaction, yet each decided to leave their TFA placement schools after their second year to pursue other options. Themes include the struggles the teachers faced their first year, the transformation that occurred during their second year, the conflicts between their TFA identity and their teacher identity, the impact of high stakes testing and racial issues, and the cathartic nature of blogging.

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