Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

An Autoethnography of a Language Teacher Educator: Wrestling with Ideologies and Identity Positions

Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

An Autoethnography of a Language Teacher Educator: Wrestling with Ideologies and Identity Positions

Article excerpt

Introduction

It is in our incompleteness, of which we are aware, that education as a permanent process is grounded. Women and men are capable of being educated only to the extent that they are capable of seeing themselves as unfinished. Education does not make us educable. It is our awareness of being unfinished that makes us educable. And the same awareness in which we are inserted makes us eternal seekers. (Freire, 1998, p. 58)

Situated in my incompleteness, this autoethnography has been an organic part of my efforts to inquire into my teacher education practices. The literature on the development of teacher educators (TEs) maintains that teacher education requires "purposeful commitment to a professional life," which includes an enduring focus on understanding the preparation of teachers and an active engagement in research that investigates and orients the pedagogies of teacher education (Goodwin et al., 2014, p. 285). Although there is no formal preparation for TEs and pedagogy of teacher education, TEs are usually required to have prior experience as school teachers, a graduate education, and "a knowledge of teaching about teaching and a knowledge of learning about teaching and how the two influence one another" (Loughran, 2008, p. 1180). My research interest in teacher education has been influential in constructing this knowledge and made me conceptualize my practices as a TE inseparable from my research. Understanding the unique challenges of teaching teachers, I view investigating my own practices as an essential part of my development as a TE.

My interest in writing an autoethnography goes back to the time when I was searching for a teacher-learning tool that provides teacher candidates (TCs) the discursive and experiential space to understand, negotiate, and construct their teacher identities. This search relies on my exposure to earlier research on teacher identity, which implicated the need for including identity as an explicit focus in teacher education (Hoffman-Kipp, 2008; Hsieh, 2016; Olsen, 2008). Later on, when I was introduced to the methodology of autoethnography (Anderson, 2006; Canagarajah, 2012; Hughes, 2008; Hughes, Pennington, & Makris, 2012), I experimented with the idea of using it as a teacher-learning activity when I contributed to a volume on teaching English as an international language with a course assignment (Yazan, 2017). Language learning or literacy autobiographies have been established in the field already (Canagarajah, 2013a; Selvi & Martin-Beltran, 2016), but I believe autoethnography can provide a novel lens for TCs and TEs to understand language teacher learning with a critical and social justice focus. The following year, I attempted to theorize and expand this idea as a programmatic component for TCs and called it critical autoethnographic narrative (Yazan, 2018c). In spring 2018, I changed all the assignments in my linguistics course and designed one semester-long assignment instead, to pilot the integration of autoethnography into my students' teacher-learning experiences (Yazan, 2018b). As I read my students' four installments of autoethnographic narratives and provided them with feedback, I was outlining the current autoethnography by taking notes about what my story would look like and how I would analyze my experiences.

Framing My Story in Prior Research

Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices

I frame this autoethnography within the burgeoning strand of self-studies of language teacher education (Sharkey & Peercy, 2018), which specifically examine TEs' identities. Earlier work has highlighted the ongoing interaction between external (social, cultural, institutional) forces and individual meaning making and agency in constructing TE identities (Lunenberg & Hamilton, 2008). Therefore, as a multifaceted, subjective, and context-bound process, this construction involves a "constant interplay of constraint and enablement" (Trent, 2013, p. …

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