UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Looking beyond the whiteboard : investigating first year teaching and the beginning teacher through transdisciplinary inquiry Mei, Linda Yu Hui


The beginning teacher’s story is one that is rarely told. Amidst the theory-versus-practice dilemmas and judgement by self and others, a beginning teacher can easily lose his or her sense of self. The beginning teacher often naïvely believes that expert colleagues’ teaching styles and techniques can and should be imitated. However, employing others’ techniques and teaching as someone else does not always produce satisfactory results, and often, these sometimes desperate measures can also make the novice practitioner disillusioned about his or her identity, as well as the reasons for choosing this profession. This thesis explores the possibilities of how a reflection guided by the principles of transdisciplinary inquiry can help the beginning teacher understand the complexities of teaching and the teacher identity. Transdisciplinary inquiry acts as a set of lenses that transcend existing ways of investigation. In essence, transdisciplinary inquiry encompasses elements of self-reflexivity, plurality, and complexity, which enable a more insightful approach to reflection in real life settings. In this thesis, I reflected on my first year of teaching by analyzing and examining six anecdotes written in the form of narratives. Borrowing from Schön’s (1983, 1987) model of reflective practice, I approached the narratives by first identifying a trigger, followed by framing, then reframing the questions or key ideas, before eventually determining the most suitable future action. Knowledge of one’s identity through reflection is essential in this profession, for it is not merely teaching techniques that create a good teacher, but an awareness of oneself. I argue that good teaching emerges from one’s identity because our personalities, values, and experiences influence how we teach and why we teach. This thesis is an attempt to trace and document that process for my own practice as a beginning teacher.

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