Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Bill McGinley

Second Advisor

Andy Cowell

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Dutro

Fourth Advisor

Kris Gutierrez

Fifth Advisor

Jennie Whitcomb


This study examines the role of storytelling in learning to teach, exploring the stories one student teacher composed and used to make sense of daily experiences in the classroom and the ways they contributed to developing understandings of teaching. In it, I analyze how learning to teach involves storytelling, and the ways story modes and forms help create teaching lives rife with particular commitments. I asked: What stories of teaching, learning, and students emerge as student teachers make sense of daily events in a variety of discursive settings? What, and who, influences the construction of student teacher stories? And what consequences do novice teachers’ constructions of teaching stories have for their work and interactions with students, especially with regard to stories of culturally and linguistically diverse students?

Drawing on narrative theory and post structural, feminist theories, I conducted a case study using narrative inquiry and ethnographic methods to examine the moment-to-moment storytelling of one student teacher across a range of informal and formal teaching and learning contexts. Data included participant observation, audio-video recording of seminars, teaching observations, teaching debriefs, triad meetings, the focal student teacher’s written blog, and artifacts collected from the student teaching classroom and university coursework. Using an analytic framework that looked at story themes; discourse styles; storytelling moves; and the role of co-authors, analysis focused on narrative themes and contradictions across time and settings.

For the focal student teacher, initial story themes of agency, a desire to be open to learning in the experience, and a tendency to trouble success/failure binaries made way for conversational sense-making that often linked difficulties to a variety of possible solutions early in the semester, and a teaching story focused on instructional adaptation by mid-semester, which continued to evolve. The conceptual and practical tools available in the setting and the ways she positioned herself and was positioned by her mentors influenced the student teacher’s stories. Findings also include the ways common stories and storytelling moves influenced teaching decisions and perceptions of students. Implications for teacher education are discussed.