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More Than Generalists: Towards an Identity as a Beginning Elementary Literacy Teacher Open Access


Other title
theory and practice
language arts
constructivist teaching
literacy teacher identity
teacher identity
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Teske, Julie M
Supervisor and department
Wiltse, Lynne (Elementary Education)
Examining committee member and department
Eppert, Claudia (Secondary Education)
McClay, Jill (Elementary Education)
Department of Elementary Education

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Education
Degree level
Elementary teachers are known to be primarily responsible for the literacy of children, being termed “custodians” of literacy. However, this responsibility can be associated with serious doubts as to one’s competency and ability to teach this subject. Such doubts are common among pre-service and beginning teachers. Framed in a sociocultural perspective, and using a case study research design, the purpose of this study was to develop an understanding of what it means to be a beginning elementary literacy teacher. This research draws attention to the way identity is socially constructed both through interactions with others and through teachers’ narratives of their teaching practice. Data collection included one semi-structured interview with each of six beginning teachers. Data analysis provided insight into five broad themes: teacher identity; the subject of language arts; literacy; literacy teacher identity; and constructivist teaching. Study findings included the role of a positive school context in establishing a strong sense of teacher identity, the role of mentorship as a way to support beginning teachers in their literacy teaching, and the implicit connection between theory and practice in the narratives of beginning teachers’ literacy teaching practices. Suggestions for changes in teacher education, and insights into the importance of mentorship are provided.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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