Tell me your story: a reflection strategy for preservice teachers.
Storytelling as Teacher Reflection
Tell me your story is a phrase popularly being promoted in the business setting during recent years: Marketing companies are finding that stories better communicate with and engage people [e.g., "Forget about PowerPoint and statistics. To involve people at the deepest level, you need stories" (McKee & Fryer, 2003, p. 51; Jensen, 2003)]; management consultants find storytelling to be more effective in bringing forth change and improvement within employees (Denning, 2004, 2005); and human resource advisors find it to be an effective interview technique (Ibarra & Lineback, 2005). Lawyers are also encouraged to utilize storytelling in their practice. As James Boyd White (1985) writes, "The mind that tells a story ... finds its meaning in representations of events as they occur in time, in imagined experience ... the lawyer must recognize (this) within himself.... It should be equally evident that he must learn how to tell a story, and how to listen to one" (p. 243). Storytelling is also widely used in various forms of counseling, such as religious counseling, abuse counseling, and career counseling (Alexander, 1988; Baldwin, 2005; Brott, 2001).
Narrative can be described as the means by which people attach meaning to experience through the telling and retelling of personal stories to evaluate the past and create purpose for the future. Narrative and story can be viewed synonymously, as Polkinghorne (1988) defines both as "the fundamental scheme for linking individual human actions and events into interrelated aspects of an understandable composite" (p. 13). However, it is more than a mere chronological listing of events. While narrative does serve as a structure for organizing events and human actions as a whole, it also attributes "significance to individual actions and events according to their effect on the whole ... a symbolized account of actions that includes a temporal dimension" (Polkinghorne, p. 18).
An example of the value and power of narrative can be seen in the work of Coles (1989), whose use of literature and stories helped people overcome obstacles in human relationships. By using narrative from novels and stories with his own students, Coles found that people began to view characters as friends who could help them make choices, find direction, identify moral hazards, and better understand their own personal situations and experiences. Indeed, it seems stories can be powerful forces in directing and changing our lives (Noddings, 1991).
The notion that teachers should be reflective about their practice is not a new one, but rather one that has grown more prominent over time. It is grounded in the work of Dewey (1933), who viewed reflection as a specialized form of thinking that emancipates us from merely impulsive and merely routine activity. Put in positive terms, thinking enables us to direct our actions with foresight and to plan according to ends in view of purposes of which we are aware--"It enables us to know what we are about when we act" (p. 17).
Proponents of reflection (Crookes & Chandler, 2001; Johnson & Button, 2000; Price, 2001; Rock & Levin, 2002; Sax & Fisher, 2001; Schon, 1983, 1987; Valli, 2000; van Manen, 1990) claim that the focused and critical assessment of our own behavior enables us to make intelligent and informed decisions. By consciously examining and assessing our present situation from the perspective of our past experiences, we can take an active role in shaping our professional growth. Being reflective enables us to become empowered and informed decision-makers as well as independent learners.
As teacher educators, we recognize the link between reflection and professional development and actively search for means to encourage preservice teachers to be reflective about their student teaching experiences. Noted educational theorist and psychologist Jerome Bruner (1987) asserted that "self is a perpetually rewritten story" and that humans are all constantly engaged in "self-making narrative," as "in the end we become the autobiographical narratives by which we tell about our lives" (p. 15). When educators recognize their experiences in terms of stories, "they live stories, tell stories of those lives, retell stories with changed potential, and experience again the changed stories ... it is more than teachers' disclosing stories of specific students and actions" (Cooner & Tochterman, 2004, p. 184).
The power of storytelling can be utilized in student teacher reflection as a strategy for making connections between theory and practice in authentic classroom environments and enabling preservice teachers to actively develop plans for growth (Cooner & Tochterman, 2004). Traditional student teacher reflection strategies, such as notetaking while observing inservice teachers and journaling, entail certain disadvantages: An observation is often considered not to be a true sample of a normal day because of different teacher and student behaviors in the presence of an observer (Walsh, Glaser, & Wilcox, 2006); the practice of journaling has the potential to overlook simple events and fail to see the "big picture" (Polster, 1987). A narrative approach, or storytelling, serves as an alternative approach to reflection for student teachers to understand and make meaning of their field experiences in an unobtrusive and connective way.
Yet, while this trend has generated excitement in the education community, there is still much to learn about the nature of story and its value in teacher education. The purpose of this study was to create contexts for preservice teachers to be reflective about their practice, and the hypothesis supposed that storytelling is one potential way for encouraging this. In integrating storytelling into a university seminar in curriculum leadership taken simultaneously with students' teaching internship, the study focused on the process of generating meaningful stories that would enable thoughtful reflection and determining benefits to students and the improvement of the teacher education program. Three questions guided the systematic study of the use of storytelling for stimulating reflection on teacher practice:
1. What do preservice teachers' stories reveal about their own learning and their beliefs about the roles and responsibilities of teachers?
2. What issues/concerns emerge for the use of this strategy as a means of stimulating reflectivity?
3. How does this strategy contribute to the continuous improvement of a teacher education program?
Implementing a Storytelling Reflection Assignment
Twenty-seven preservice teachers enrolled in a curriculum leadership class were requested to tell a story about an experience that occurred during their student teaching placement. Organized as a cohort, the storytellers were graduate students in the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program at a large, urban university. All participants had an average of four years of work experience in professions and settings outside of education prior to enrolling in the MAT program. In addition, they were at the end of a year in which they had completed a year-long internship in a middle or senior high school setting under the mentorship of an inservice teacher and a university supervisor, attended classes at the university, and written a thesis based on action research of their own practice. All of the curriculum, instruction, and methods courses in the MAT program taken by the students prior to the curriculum leadership seminar required some form of reflective practice in the course syllabus (e.g., exit reflections over class lectures, journals of daily instruction, and portfolios). Consequently, this cohort of students had a common thread of experience with a variety of reflective strategies.
The choice of storytelling as the reflective strategy for the curriculum leadership seminar was based on previous research suggesting that novice teachers' stories developed from their experiences in the classroom over the course of the year were a viable means of examining their present beliefs and challenges about teaching and learning and would assist in their construction of more developed metaphors of teaching (Bullough, Knowles, & Crow 1991; Wentworth & Pinnegar, 1996). The choice was further supported when the university students met their first seminar. Those who were early for class spontaneously began sharing "stories" of their classrooms, and others enthusiastically joined in as they arrived, suggesting that telling their stories was a natural phenomenon. The topic of reflection and its benefits to learners thus became an early seminar discussion, as the instructor related what was observed as students came into the classroom. Following this discussion the instructor and the class substituted a storytelling format for the original reflection strategy outlined in the seminar's syllabus and selected the telling of one or more of their experiences as a culminating activity for the course. Each week at the beginning of the class, students were randomly grouped by fours or fives, and each member of the group took a turn telling of some event or experience that had been significant for her or him during the week. The telling of the previous week's experiences was given approximately 20 minutes of class time, with some students taking more or less time than others depending on their stories and their inclination to share that week. Each student made a dated entry into a journal of the story he or she had told on each night of the seminar; the entry was to serve only as a reminder of the weekly events they had chosen to relate to others. No structure was required for these notes.
The week prior to the last class meeting, the topic and research related to storytelling as a reflection strategy was reexamined and the structure and guidelines for the culminating story to be told during the final class meeting were reviewed. The preservice teachers were reminded that most stories, including personal narratives, have a structure of beginning (laying out the context or background), middle (exposing a dilemma or conflict), and end (resolution of the dilemma) (Hermans, 1992). The final storytelling assignment was to relate a story involving a significant event, dilemma, or situation from the student's teaching experience (events and details could be selected from their notes of their previously told stories). Guidelines for the storytelling process were provided to students, briefly discussed, and included : (1) real stories describing or explaining an incident or event, (2) inclusion of significant details related to the characters, the dilemma or motivating problem in the story, turning point, and resolution, (3) a lesson or moral learned, and (4) connection of events in the preservice teacher's life and semester's experience that were significant and related to their becoming a teacher.
On the last class meeting, the preservice teachers were paired, instructed to tell one another their story, and asked to record their stories with provided audiotape recorders. Following the oral telling of the story, the student teachers were requested to ask their partner the following story structure questions and to record their responses:
1. Who is the main character?
2. Who or what is the "hero" of the story?
3. Who or what is the "villain"?
4. What is the motivating dilemma, conflict, or central problem of the story?
5. What is the turning point?
6. Was the ending positive or negative? If the story has not yet ended, what type of ending do you think will happen? Why?
7. What is the story's moral? What would you like for the audience to learn?
The intent of the follow-up analysis questions was to assist the storytellers in being fully elaborative in their stories and foster or extend reflection about their practice so that they could benefit by or learn from the experiences related in their narratives. The storytellers were not required to match a part of their story with each story element; reflecting upon their story in comparison with such traditional story elements was encouraged to promote further analysis of characters, plot, and lesson learned (if any). All of the stories and responses to the questions were audio-taped, transcribed, and analyzed for patterns and themes.
The following story was excerpted from one student's audio recording.
Once upon a time, a young, idealistic student teacher began teaching four standard tenth grade English classes. There was one student, an over-age young man in her fifth period class, who quickly established himself as her possible nemesis. He was defiant, low-achieving, unmotivated, and worst of all, a natural leader whose bad attitude was carrying over to the other students. The teacher had looked at his previous school records, talked to the guidance counselor, conferenced with his single-parent mother, and discussed the student with her mentor teacher. There seemed to be no answer to this problem. She began losing sleep, and each day she felt she lost more control of the situation. One morning while walking through the parking lot, she saw the student sitting in a car playing the guitar and softly singing. She listened for a minute and was impressed by what she heard. Before class started that day, she took the student into the hall and told him what she had heard and how impressed she had been. She told him she was going to start a unit on poetry that day and had planned to use some music to demonstrate rhythm, rhyme, and other elements of poetry that are part of music. She asked him if he would bring his guitar to class and sing one of his songs. To her amazement, he did. This was the beginning of a complete turnaround for the student, others in the class, and for the teacher, also. Moral of my story: Never give up believing that all students (and teachers) can learn and want to be successful. Everyone has a key and the job of a teacher is to find that key and unlock the potential we all possess.
Twenty of the 27 preservice teachers (74%) saw themselves as the main characters of their stories. The majority of these 20 reported their role as a student teacher to be the pivotal person in the story. Examples of main characters other than the preservice teacher were either the mentor teacher or students they were teaching (see Figure 1). When mentor teachers were portrayed as main characters, they generally were described as or given profoundly influential roles in the stories. In the stories with students as the main characters, the preservice teachers saw themselves as a kind of counselor, describing students with special needs, such as "an unmotivated student in my third period English class," "a hearing-impaired student with my fourth period class," "a troubled, frustrated student who transferred into my art class because he was falling behind," and "a low-achieving student with an 'attitude' toward all authority figures."
As their motivating dilemma, the majority of the preservice teachers identified issues that related either to classroom discipline or lack of teaching experience. Discussing a discipline problem, one preservice teacher related that a student confronted her in a hostile manner regarding assignments and grades and that she "had to take this student into the hall on more than one occasion because she was causing quite a disturbance in class." Other stories included statements such as, "I really wanted to make learning interesting for the students, but spent most of my time disciplining difficult students," and "I had to establish myself as the authority in the classroom before I could teach English, as the students showed no respect for me when I was nice to them."
Closely connected to discipline problems was the "lack of motivation on the part of my students," as stated by a high school economics preservice teacher. Similarly, a preservice teacher who had attended an all-girls private high school said:
My expectation of what I thought I would find upon entering a large, modern public high school differed from what I found. I have had to accept the fact, frustrating as it is, that some of the kids just do not want to learn and could care less what goes on in class.
Another preservice teacher said that she was frustrated because "these students in a large high school are not interested in our world and what is happening in it today." She wanted to involve all of her students in class while "trying to show them why the information they were learning, particular about other cultures, is pertinent to their lives today."
Several of the preservice teachers viewed their preconceived ideas about teaching and their lack of experience as their dilemmas. For example, four of the preservice teachers stated the problem they encountered was "trying to live up to the ideals and expectations of myself and others." Their stories included statements such as "my lack of experience and confidence in myself was the difficulty that I had to overcome."
Others viewed their mentor teachers as embodying some of their conflict between the ideal and the real. One preservice teacher included in his story that:
I probably will have to eventually give up some of my idealism after observing my mentor teacher distance himself from the students who had no motivation or desire to learn, and even water down the material so that most of them could pass geometry. It quickly became clear how an individual can become a hardened, cynical, warhorse of a teacher.
Another related that her mentor, who had been teaching for 20 years, had become so cynical about students that his philosophy was "just to survive." The storyteller's conflict was to "overcome my inexperience, and become more confident in myself as an effective classroom manager while maintaining my rapport with the students" so that she would not experience this kind of burnout.
In response to "Who or what is the hero in the story?," 14 of the 27 preservice teachers reported someone other than themselves, while 10 considered themselves to be the hero in the story (see Figure 2). In the stories that depicted someone else as the hero, the descriptions included "my seventh grade students who really turned out to be fun to teach by the end of the year, even though I had wanted to teach older students" and "all students and teachers who succeed against the odds." Another storyteller related:
There are really two heroes in this story--the student and myself. I made the student aware of his capabilities, that he could succeed in Standard English, but he is the one who did the work and achieved his goal of passing the regular course instead of taking Resource English.
Two preservice teachers said that their mentor teachers were the heroes of their stories. One explained, "My cooperating teacher is absolutely wonderful, and in my eyes is a heroine." The other storytellers considered the heroes of their stories to be "the students," and in one case, "my family and friends who helped and supported me through the year."
The preservice teachers who saw themselves as the heroes of the stories also linked some aspect of their own learning experience in teaching as contributing to their heroism. They expressed this as "overcoming my initial anxiety as the authority figure in my class," "helping my students to build respect for different ideas while studying about other countries in history class," " resolving the conflict between my expectations and what I found to be reality in classroom teaching," and "working very hard to get students to work on their class project of running a small business." Three of the storytellers reported that there was no hero in their story because they were either unable to help a student with his/her problems to the extent they wanted, or they felt as though the system had failed to successfully meet a student's needs. They related that their experiences in the stories centered on more negative, or oppositional, forces rather than positive ones.
Four preservice teachers saw themselves, their inexperience, and lack of confidence as villains, and three gave the response that there was no villain in their story. The remaining stories either identified another person or students' low motivation as the villains (see Figure 3). The 11 stories relating another person or forces as the villain included references to "disruptive students," "the troubled student's parents," "step-parents," "the system," "parents who don't help to monitor their child's behavior or motivate their children to appreciate learning," and "stress, pressure, and getting along with the mentor teacher." One preservice teacher portrayed the villain as "teachers who are too traditional" and the "system that will not change to accommodate the needs of students."
Nine of the stories considered the villain to be the low motivation of students to learn and succeed in school. In the stories where low motivation was seen as a negative force acting on the situation, preservice teachers explained it as "laziness of students," "lack of self-esteem and, therefore, motivation," "an attitude of disrespect for teachers and education in general," and "high school students who think that drug-selling is an acceptable occupation and do not believe that education is worthwhile."
Turning points within the stories were events that caused the story to have a positive or negative ending. These were typically more difficult for the teachers to define and explain. Many reported a gradual change, such as improvement in student motivation and achievement over the course of student teaching. Others reported an increase in their own self-confidence as teachers during the year's experience of teaching, and "realizing and accepting that things are not always as you expect and want them to be." Turning points were also stated as "when I knew that I had the support of my mentor teacher and principal" and "when I saw my students cooperating and working together to learn."
Storytellers were also asked to include their opinion or prediction of the end of the story, whether it was or would be positive or negative, and why they believed this. Twenty-two of the intern teachers (80%) believed their stories had or would have positive endings. Only four believed the stories they told had negative endings, and one said that he "did not know how this story would eventually turn out." The positive endings were reflected by statements such as: "I felt good about myself by the end of the story"; "I believe my students learned something about themselves and others"; "My reluctant student is now working and his self-confidence has greatly improved"; and "I continue to benefit from my experiences." The stories with negative endings, according to the storytellers, involved students who were struggling to survive overwhelming home and family situations, or were being neglected by parents who were too involved in their own personal problems to notice that their child was suffering.
Morals and Lessons
Reponses to the final question, "What is the story's moral or lesson?" focused on having realistic goals and expectations and the need for support from family, friends, and teachers. Some specific lessons learned by the storytellers were: "Look for the positives in a bad situation"; "You learn from those you teach"; "Be prepared for anything"; "A new career is a big adjustment, and you need to be patient with yourself and your students and learn from your mistakes"; "Keep an open mind and be flexible"; "Give respect to students, use positive reinforcement, and don't ever give up on the students."
The concepts, issues, and practices that were central to these teachers' stories were similar to those of most beginning teachers. Thus, the content for analysis and reflection appropriate for student teaching seminars such as this was effectively derived through the storytelling process and demonstrated that the method was at least as efficient as reading cases or other text materials. It had the distinct advantage, however, of being more concrete and personally relevant for students who had shared the same or similar contextual environments.
Contributions of the Storytelling Strategy to the Continuous Improvement of a Teacher Education Program
In order to more fully flesh out the benefits and utility of this strategy for improving the teacher education program, two open-ended questions were added to the standard class evaluation form that students completed at the end of the last seminar class:
1. What were the benefits of the storytelling reflection strategy used this semester for you personally? For the teacher education program that you have completed?
2. What are/were your concerns about using this strategy as a process for reflecting on your own teaching and learning? For further or extended implementation in the teacher education program?
In general, the responses were positive, with almost all students responding that they enjoyed using the strategy. Examples of written responses regarding personal benefits included:
I don't often speak out in my classes and sometimes I've resented others who take away from my time in class by whining about their problems. The way we conducted the class by limiting the time that we could tell our stories and giving us the flexibility of saying a lot or a little if we chose, was good for me. As the semester went by I became a lot more comfortable talking in the small groups, and I made closer friends with some of our class than I had before this semester, mainly because I shared some of their experiences and realized they were having the same kinds of problems that I was having.
Another student indicated that the oral aspect was more comfortable for him because of his lack of writing ability and fear of being graded on what he had written.
I liked being able to talk and not having to write everything and being graded on it. At first I was afraid if I told anything about my problems I would reveal that I didn't have all of the answers or wasn't doing a good job with my classes. After awhile though, I started looking forward to hearing others talk about their classes, and I got some good ideas from others about what they were doing to make things go better for them.
The benefits to the teacher education program were addressed by two preservice teachers whose responses also pointed to some of the issues and concerns about using this strategy in other classes. One student wrote: "I don't think this strategy would work as well in other classes we have taken because we didn't have as much teaching experience and enough time for our 'stories' to develop." Another responded:
I always remember the stories my professors tell in class about their real-life experiences in the classroom, sometimes better than the content itself. Our stories, however, seemed even more relevant because they were happening now with students in our city's schools and not in the past (in some of our professors' really distant past) and I think I learned as much from some of our class as I have from some of my professors.
Other responses pointed to particular areas of the teacher education program that might benefit from knowing students' stories. One student wrote: "The most common problem/conflict I heard in our stories was how much trouble we all seemed to have with discipline and working with unmotivated students. I think the Education program needs to put more emphasis on this." Another commented on a particular teaching strategy: "We have heard a lot in our methods courses about doing more cooperative learning in our classrooms, but I never felt like I was secure enough with this strategy to make it work in my English classroom. The way we told our stories in a small group and wrote summaries of each other's stories is a cooperative type activity that I want to try in my own classroom."
Other comments about the use of this strategy were concerned more about how it was used than whether or not its use should be expanded in the teacher education program. Some examples included: "We have some people in this class who talk way too much and if you end up in their group, you will not get a chance to talk before the time is up"; "There were a couple of times I felt like I was in a group-therapy session for recovering teachers"; and "I would have liked to have had more time with just the English/language arts teachers because we have more in common than some of the other content area teachers."
Issues and Concerns
From the data, we identified two major issues related to using storytelling as a means for stimulating reflectivity about teaching. These issues may have been the result of the specific manner in which the approach was used but should be addressed in future applications.
Trust and Disclosure
Since stories may include episodes that can depict preservice students as looking "unsuccessful" in the traditional sense, they must feel safe in disclosing their actions, feelings, and experiences, as well as be free from pressures of penalty by grades or loss of respect by the instructor and/or their peers. The emphasis of this approach must be on teacher development rather than evaluation.
Depth of Reflection
The ability to self-analyze, interpret, and find meaning in "real" stories and experiences varies in a context such as this as it does in written discourse. Persons who are unaccustomed or inexperienced in structural analysis and interpretation may miss the more abstract, symbolic, and even salient points in the stories. Thus, it is of value to conduct some preliminary discussion of story elements and to practice constructing and analyzing metaphors to assist teachers in seeing the nuances, subtleties, and complexities of motives and elements of their stories.
The Value of Storytelling as a Form of Teacher Reflection
Analysis of the data revealed that the storytelling process was primarily valuable as both a reflective and a collaborative process, a culminating activity, and a generation-of- knowledge process. Each is discussed below.
(1) A reflective process. The preservice teachers indicated that the storytelling provided them a formal means of engaging in the reflection process. Recalling their thoughts, feelings, and actions regarding a significant event during their student teaching by responding to specific thought-provoking questions gave them insight regarding the importance of the event in their lives. Further, storytelling placed more emphasis on growth rather than evaluation, unlike other reflective practices (e.g., portfolios).
(2) A collaborative process. The preservice teachers told their stories to one another. There was someone there to listen to and value their stories. Sharing and describing the events with others created both an air of excitement as well as relief to hear stories that were similar to their own experiences. A sense of "being in this together" was created.
(3) A culminating activity. The preservice teachers were able to name what was most important to them about their student teaching experience. They were able to compose a self that was positive in the face of a number of less positive factors and events and conclude their university work on a positive note.
(4) A generation-of-knowledge process. The stories illustrated that most of the preservice teachers felt a great sense of accomplishment in their student teaching experience. Critical issues related to teaching emerged during the sharing of stories. A growing understanding of issues related to teaching, such as uncertainty, the need for support, and that learning to teach is a developmental process, was evident in the stories. The stories also provided university personnel insight and perspectives on teaching drawn from those recently in classrooms and those who were often not willing or active participants in more traditional seminar discussions. For example, specific curriculum and instruction areas of the university teacher education program (e.g., classroom management and cooperative learning) were identified as needing to be addressed more extensively and with more relevance to the experiences the student teachers described.
A Vision for the Future of Teacher Education
We believe storytelling can serve two important purposes for teacher preparation: a promotion of reflective teaching and a substantive conclusion of a teacher education program. The findings of this initial study seem to imply a need for increased use of storytelling in teacher preparation programs as a means to promote teacher reflection. Although this study is limited to one student teaching program, we believe, through increased practice in more student teaching programs, this strategy could contribute to the continuous improvement of a teacher education. Although most teacher educators agree that teacher reflection is an important process, it still remains an often misunderstood and under-practiced aspect of the educational process: "It is paradoxical that, although teachers spend most of their time facilitating student learning, they themselves have few people facilitating for them and understanding their need to be recognized, encouraged, helped, supported, and engaged in professional learning" (Liberman, Saxl, & Miles, 2000, p. 352). While instilling this type of reflection in preservice teachers can be difficult for teacher educators, storytelling employs the use of critical thought, self-direction, and problem solving, as well as nourishing personal knowledge and self awareness that Chant, Heafner, and Bennett (2004) discuss as critical components of effective teacher reflection.
It is not so important that we are able to anticipate and have a ready answer for all of the perplexing questions and issues that teachers pose through their stories, but more that we engage and share in the dialogue that brings to life and focuses the messy, complicated, real world of the classroom. The dialogue gives meaning to simple events that might have otherwise slipped by (Polster, 1987). Similar to the use of storytelling in business and counseling, the connecting of meaningful events better enables student teachers to remember their experiences, make sense of them, and grow. Just as we rely on reading literature for arousing passions, discovering values, and understanding the human condition outside the narrow confines of our own experience, hearing our own and others' stories has a place in the education of teachers. Storytelling offers "the potential to animate the idea of teaching as reflection, generate knowledge about reflective practice, model an inquiry-based approach to pedagogy, provide opportunities for beginning teachers to reflect on learning to teach, and generate rich understandings" that can be used to facilitate growth and improvement (Dinkelman, 2003, p. 16). Jon Meacham (2008) recently wrote "We are the sum of the stories we tell ourselves, and those stories are necessarily rooted in our experience, and by how we choose to interpret the experiences of others. These mechanics of memory create a new, present reality that then determines the future" (p. 27). Storytelling, the oldest of form of communication, provides us a means for reconstructing our experiences as well as constructing our inquiry into future professional practice. Thus, it would seem that this approach (storytelling) could serve as an improvement, or an effective supplement, to other techniques used by researchers and teacher educators in promoting reflection on teaching and ultimate teacher development.
Alexander, I. E. (1988). Personality, psychological assessment, and psychobiography. Journal of Personality, 56, 265-294.
Baldwin, C. (2005). Storycatcher: Making sense of our lives through the power and practice of story. Novato, CA: New World Library.
Brott, P. E. (2001). The storied approach: A Postmodern perspective for career counseling. The Career Development Quarterly, 49, 304-313.
Bruner, J. (1987). Life as narrative. Social Research, 54, 13-32.
Bullough, R. V., Knowles, J. G., & Crow, N. A. (1991). Emerging as a teacher. London, UK: Routledge.
Chant, R. H., Heafner, T. L., & Bennett, K. R. (2004). Connecting personal theorizing and action research in preservice teacher development. Teacher Education Quarterly, 30, 25-40.
Coles, R. (1989). The call of stories: Teaching and the moral imagination. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Cooner, D. D., & Tochterman, S. M. (2004). Life inside a professional development school: What experienced teachers learn. The Teacher Educator, 39, 184-195.
Crookes, G., & Chandler, P. M. (2001). Introducing action research into the education of post-secondary foreign language teachers. Foreign Language Annals, 34, 131-140.
Denning, S. (2004). Telling tales. Harvard Business Review, 82, 122-129.
Denning, S. (2005). The leader's guide to storytelling: Mastering the art and discipline of business narrative. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Dewey, J. (1933). How we think: A restatement of the relation of reflective thinking to the educative process. Boston: Heath.
Dinkelman, T. (2003). Self-study in teacher education: A means and ends tool for promoting reflective teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 54, 6-18.
Hermans, H. J. M. (1992). Telling and retelling one's self-narrative: A contextual approach to life-span development. Human Development, 35, 361-375.
Ibarra, H., & Lineback, K. (2005). What's your story? Harvard Business Review, 83, 64-71.
Jensen, R. (2003). Heartstorm, The dream society 2. Kopenhagen, Denmark: Jyllands-Postens Erhvervsbogklub.
Johnson, M., & Button, K. (2000). Connecting graduate education in language arts with teaching contexts: The power of action research. English Education, 32, 107-126.
Lieberman, A., Saxl, E. R., & Miles, M. B. (2000). Teacher leadership: Ideology and practice. In M. G. Fullan (Ed.), Educational leadership (pp. 348-365). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
McKee, R., & Fryer, B. (2003). Storytelling that moves people. Harvard Business Review, 81, 51-55.
Meacham, J. (2008, July 7/July 14). The stories we tell ourselves. Newsweek, 27-28.
Noddings, N. (1991). Stories in dialogue: Caring and interpersonal reasoning. In C. Witherell & N. Noddings (Eds.), Stories lives tell: Narrative and dialogue in education (pp. 157-170). New York: Teachers College Press.
Polkinghorne, D. E. (1988). Narrative knowing and the human sciences. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Polster, E. (1987). Every person's life is worth a novel. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
Price, J. N. (2001). Action research, pedagogy and change: The transformative potential of action research in preservice teacher education. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 33, 43-74.
Rock, T. C., & Levin, B. B. (2002). Collaborative action research projects: Enhancing preservice teacher development in professional development schools. Teacher Education Quarterly, 29, 7-21.
Sax, C., & Fisher, D. (2001). Using qualitative action research to effect change: Implications for professional education. Teacher Education Quarterly, 28, 71-80.
Schon, D. A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books.
Schon, D. A. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner: Towards a new design for teaching and learning in the professions. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Valli, L. (2000). Connecting teacher development and school improvement: Ironic consequences of a preservice action research course. Teaching and Teacher Education, 16, 715-730.
van Manen, M. (1990). Researching lived experience: Human science for an action sensitive pedagogy. London, UK: Althouse Press.
Walsh, K., Glaser, D., & Wilcox, D. D. (2006). What education schools aren't teaching about reading and what elementary teachers aren't learning. National Council on Teacher Quality. Retrieved July, 25, 2006, from http://nctq.org
Wentworth, N. M. & Pennegar, S. (1996). Stories of learning and schooling: Capturing preservice teachers' beliefs about teaching and learning. The Professional Educator, 19, 1-11.
White, J. B. (1985). The legal imagination. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Emily Binks is a lecturer and research coordinator at the Scarborough School of Education of the University of Hull, United Kingdom; Dennie L. Smith and R. Malatesha Joshi are professors in the College of Education and Human Development at Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas; and Lana J. Smith is professor emeritus with the College of Education at the University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee.
Figure 1. Main Character (n=27). Self = 74% Mentor Teacher = 11% Student(s) = 15% Note: Table made from pie chart. Figure 2. Hero (n=27). Self= 37% Student(s) = 41% Mentor Teacher = 7% Other = 4% Note: Table made from pie chart. Figure 3. Villian (n=27). Self= 15% Student(s) = 33% Mentor Teacher = 26% Other = 26% Note: Table made from pie chart.