Using Drawing to Explore Beginning Pre-Service Teacher Identity

Year: 2015

Author: Glass, Chris, Beltman, Sue

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Developing an identity as a teacher can be a complex process. It has been argued that “clear self-image and ownership of an emerging professional identity” are necessary conditions that help pre-service teachers effectively apply knowledge acquired from teacher education programs into workplace situations in the future (Bennett, 2013, p. 55). Moreover, the examination of pre-service teachers’ perceptions of their future selves may reveal doubts and unrealistic expectations, as well as provide a road map for developing the skills or dispositions required to become the teacher they aspire to be (Brand & Doloff, 2002).

Utilising arts based methods to develop understandings about pre-service teachers’ developing identity is an innovative approach to exploring beliefs about teaching and teachers work. Some studies have used drawings to ascertain whether a pre-service teacher is teacher-centred or student-centred, or to describe what is thought of as a ‘good’ teacher. This study aims to tap into the early thinking of prospective teachers about how they envision themselves as the teacher prior to their first professional (field) experience. This study examines the drawings of a group of first year (n=124) pre-service teachers enrolled in Bachelor of Education programs in an Australian University. Based on the presence of key elements (teacher, students, and artefacts) drawings were coded and grouped into eight categories.

While drawings varied in their complexity, participants with more complex drawings pictured their teacher-self as an active agent engaged in some aspect of their daily work. The pre-service teachers’ drawings indicated a confidence in their capacity to become the teacher and to do the work of teaching in an engaging, caring and enjoyable manner. Much of what is relevant to teaching, however, was not addressed in the drawings. For example, the pre-service teachers never represented themselves as working with colleagues or any other adults such as education assistants or parents.

Drawings may be easily incorporated into workshops or online activities to promote reflection and discussion relating to various aspects of teachers’ work as well as to pre-service teachers’ developing identity. Teacher educators have been challenged “to recreate the space for construction of an individual, meaningful, resilient professional identity underpinned by strong beliefs and values” (Smethem, 2007, p. 478). Using drawings as a tool can enable teacher educators to facilitate the development of pre-service teachers’ professional identity and eventually the development of effective teachers who thrive in the profession.