Constructing voices through lived-experiences: a phenomenological study of novice reading teachers' personal understanding of pedagogical ownership and professional identity




Durham, Patricia


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It is in the best interest of the American educational system that novice reading teachers be provided with the opportunity for ownership of their pedagogy and be enabled to forge an identity that legitimatize them as an integral part of the educational arena. Nurturing a teacher's critical self and critical pedagogy will address the needs of the novice reading teacher and increase our understanding of a reading teacher in the 21st century. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the ways in which five South, Southeast and West Texas reading teachers constructed personal understanding of their pedagogical development and professional identity from their experiences during their novice years of teaching. Findings from the rich and compelling stories of the participants uncovered six core themes commonly shared by the participants. Novice reading teachers experienced: (a) using prior lived-experiences to impact reading pedagogy, (b) concern for students' social, cultural, and academic well-being, (c) active reflection, (d) making pedagogical and professional connections through specific reading support systems which developed their philosophy for reading, (e) awareness of growth as a result of these systems, and (f) recognition of strengths attributing to their professional and pedagogical identity. The six themes have implications for the novice teacher, teacher education programs, and professional trainings and trainers. To aid in forming their reading teacher identity, novice reading teachers need to look inward at their biographical stories to first know themselves and the critical incidents that have made a positive or negative impact on their literacy lives. Teacher educators should continue to evolve reading teacher coursework by weaving in current components of teacher development theory into its curriculum to aid preservice teachers in becoming self aware of their growth and development. Professional training should be professional, not just something to attend arbitrarily. Professional trainers can learn from this study that training needs to be redesigned to treat the audience as active-thinking participants rather than passive receivers of knowledge. Suggestions for further research are included to help deepen the understanding of the 21st century reading teacher.


"A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Literacy Studies."


identity, lived experiences, novice reading teachers, pedagogical ownership, phenomenology, professional growth



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