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Key experiences in student teachers' development

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This study focuses on the question of why student teachers stay in teaching even after a profound 'practice shock,' i.e., a shock that in itself seems to characterize the complex and emotionally challenging first year of student teaching. Using a line drawing technique, the study investigates student teachers' views of their first year of teaching by examining how they picture their development, their key experiences during that development, and the ways in which they coped with these experiences. The results suggest that most student teachers perceive their own development not as a steadily ascending line as is often suggested by research on the development of teachers' professional identity. Instead, we now surmise that most student teachers view their development as a path with highs and lows that include transformative moments or periods. This relates to the idea of transformative learning and to theories on identity development that suggest people need a crisis for identity development to occur. During such a crisis, we saw that student teachers explicitly reconsidered their connections to teaching and that this reconsideration led to a regained motivation for teaching. It appeared that supervisors or mentor teachers played a significant role in first-year (student) teachers' regaining motivation for teaching.

Keywords: identity development; key experiences; student teachers; teacher professional identity; transformative learning

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Education, Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands 2: ICLON Leiden University Graduate School of Teaching, AX Leiden, The Netherlands

Publication date: 2011-02-01

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