School of Education

Research Explores Power of Storytelling about Past Experiences in Early-Career Teachers’ Identity Development

Ms Sonam Maharaj
Ms Sonam Maharaj

Interested in enhancing her professional knowledge and learning, teacher, Ms Sonam Maharaj graduatedcum laude with her Master’s in Education for her research which explores the power of storytelling about past experiences in early-career teachers’ identity development.

Her narrative inquiry focused on four early-career teachers, including herself, who shared their stories. ‘Teachers’ identities are actively being constructed and reconstructed through exposure to life experiences and our interpretations of them. The data generation methods of memory drawing, collage making, interviewing, and journaling allowed me to witness the early-career teachers’ stories,’ said Maharaj.

She drew on the generated data to compose creative nonfiction pieces. ‘Developing an interpretive memory drawing and collage enabled me to recognise and make visible connections across participants’ drawings and collages. These creative analytical practices assisted me in understanding and perceiving aspects of the research that I would not be able to otherwise,’ she explained. Maharaj developed insights into participants’ thoughts, feelings, and experiences, and identified similarities and differences.

She created themes to highlight the stories shared and to recognise the identity shifts. These were Stories of Hardships, Stories of Appreciation and the Desire to Improve, as well as Stories of Excitement and Clarity. These themes represent stories as told by early-career teachers about their lived experiences, what shaped their professional identities, and their recognition of the shifts in their identities.

Maharaj’s research highlights significant links between past experiences, storytelling and early-career teacher identity development. It invites readers to become aware of our stories’ power to influence who we are and potentially positively impact who we will become.

Maharaj is grateful for the support received from her family, friends and supervisor, Professor Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan. She plans to pursue her PhD and is keen to make a difference in her classroom.

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