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UBC Theses and Dissertations

(Un)Becoming teacher of school-based Aboriginal education : early career teachers, teacher identity, and Aboriginal education across institutions Madden, Brooke


This research explores the experiences and perceptions of nine Aboriginal and ally early career teachers (1-5 years experience) who have completed university coursework and/or extended professional development on the topic of Aboriginal education. The inquiry places focus on how targeted teacher education, and transitions into educational work settings, shape teacher identity and practice. Over an eight-month period, teachers participated in a series of three or four individual, semi-structured interviews on topics related to professional identity and engagement in Aboriginal education across institutions. Data fragments elicited from the research reveal ongoing, relational processes of momentarily occupying, exceeding, resisting, and/or reforming subject positions of teacher made available through discourse. The fragments are used to identify and trace significant forces that direct how participants become, and become undone as, teachers of school-based Aboriginal education. Analysis concentrates on four key relationships between teachers and sources of knowledge about Aboriginal education that formed, reinforced, and challenged teachers’ emerging professional identities and associated practices as they navigated Faculties of Education, schools, and areas between (e.g., teaching practicum). They include: (un)becoming teacher and a) school-based sources of Aboriginality, b) pedagogical pathways for Aboriginal education with/in teacher education, c) significant place, and d) supports used for engaging Aboriginal education. Contributions are made to the fields of teacher education, Aboriginal education, and decolonizing education and research. The research reveals the benefits and difficulties that coursework and professional development afford in preparing, and providing ongoing assistance to, teachers who foreground Aboriginal content and approaches. Learning from teachers’ processes, preparedness, and priorities enhances understanding about identity negotiation and movement of knowledge-practice across institutions. Further, theory building presents a decolonizing methodology for analyzing the construction of teacher identity that accounts for teachers’ complex and shifting positions beyond the binary opposition Aboriginal/non-Aboriginal. A decolonizing theory of (un)becoming teacher of Aboriginal education, alongside early career teachers’ recommendations to improve university and school-based Aboriginal education, hold potential to shift Aboriginal education research beyond a discourse of transformation/resistance. This opens space to reconfigure Aboriginal education and teacher education, as well as subject positions therein, to support the needs and prerogatives of Aboriginal students and communities.

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