‘My mom says you’re not really a teacher’: Rhizomatic explorations of ever-shifting student teacher identities and experiences

Document Type



Institute for Educational Development, East Africa


Current teacher preparation programmes in the USA are required to report to state agencies on how their students are attaining professional preparation standards in order to fully become named as a ‘teacher’.

As teacher educators immersed in these neo-liberal policies and expectations, the authors sought a way for their students to work through these expectations by having them write personal narratives of their experiences in university courses and early childhood practicums.

The authors found the results from their initial analysis troubling and sought further meaning from the students’ and other texts. Only when the authors returned to literature that was closer to their own feminist, post-structural core did they find some (un)comfort. They had become distracted by institutionalized, modernist and neo-liberal notions of linear teacher development. They had nearly overlooked the majority of their data illustrating student teachers’ often clandestine classroom experiences, leading to a non-linear ‘messiness’ of constantly shifting, vacillating, variable and ever-flowing multiple identity enactments in the narratives.

Drawing on student teachers’ narratives in order to challenge and rupture the neo-liberal truth(s) of linear teacher development, the authors argue that teachers’ identities are not built on the dissemination of discrete knowledges and specified skills and dispositions articulated in standards, but rather are under ever-evolving, messy, multifaceted, multilayered construction through their experiences with children, families and fellow teachers.

Finally, the authors explore possible implications for teacher educators and teacher education.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.