This research addressed the complexities of identity development in the lives of seven elementary and middle school preservice literacy teachers during their graduate teacher education program at a private western university using a poststructural feminism theoretical lens. This research investigated two questions: 1) How do preservice teachers develop their identity as teachers of literacy in the midst of authoritative discourses? 2) What kinds of strategies and discourses do preservice literacy teachers use to negotiate the competing discourses of literacy during student teaching?
Data for this research were collected over nine months and were taken from five main sources: course documents, the researcher’s teaching notebook and journal, focus groups, and individual student interviews. Discourse analysis using poststructural feminism concepts of discourse, subjectivity, and agency were used to interpret the data. The validity of this research was re-framed using poststructural feminist concepts of reflexivity; ethical considerations; multiple perspectives; praxis-focused research; and partial, situated knowing.
The results indicated that the identities of the preservice literacy teachers were in formation during their graduate teacher education program and authoritative discourses were at work constituting their subjectivities throughout this process. These discourses were heard as the preservice literacy teachers used deconstructive and reconstructive literacy discourses and strategies from their personal literacy biographies, literacy coursework, and student teaching practices. Their agency as literacy teachers was demonstrated through the strategies they used to negotiate and perform their identities during student teaching—working within and outside of the literacy structures of their cooperating teachers’ classrooms. The research also indicated the power of time and space both in relation with others, as a means for continued identity transformation.
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