Between the hedges: stories music cooperating teachers tell of their identities as teacher educators
Stanley, Laura Catherine Moates
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A plethora of literature on cooperating teachers exists, but it is written from university researchers’ perspectives, leaving cooperating teachers’ voices silenced. Most researchers discuss what cooperating teachers do rather than who cooperating teachers say they are, particularly when they speak of themselves as teacher educators. The focus of this study was specifically on music cooperating teachers, and its purpose was to investigate their identities as narrative constructions. I employed Connelly and Clandinin’s (1999) stories to live by, Bruner’s (1987; 1991; 2002) self-making, and Ricoeur’s ipse-identity and idem-identity to suggest that identity stories were multiple, mobile, and contingent. Still, human beings sought continuity in their identity stories over time, and such stories were shaped in social and institutional contexts. Using touchstones of narrative inquiry (see Clandinin & Caine, 2013), I held six planned conversations with two other music cooperating teachers, which first generated field texts, and then, led to many follow-up conversations. The participants and I engaged in an eight-month process of co-constructing interim research texts. Clandinin acknowledged that, because identity stories were works in progress, standard research texts often were ineffective vehicles used to convey narrative identity. Therefore, I implemented a novella, an emotional story relying on character development, to present the final research text, and I entitled it “Between the Hedges.” Within my interpretations and reflections on “Between the Hedges,” I discussed how, when considering ourselves as music teacher educators, we told public and private stories of family and school, further situated as children, students, and parents. Parents and music teachers were highly influential figures, and not always in positive ways. Although the situated identity stories were multiple, each cooperating teacher wove a thread of sameness between his or her stories as they were retold and relived. I concluded that the sameness in each story was key to understanding rationales for cooperating teachers’ practices of mentoring student teachers.