Narratives of novice teachers in a private Catholic school.
This thesis presents an understanding of the personal-professional selves of Novice Teachers (NTs) teaching in a Private Catholic School in Durban. This study documents the lived lives of NT’s. By reconstructing the narratives of three NT participants, I was able to get glimpses into their meaning-making of selves, what they do, think, feel and act within the context of a Private Catholic School. Looking at NTs meaning-making of self through an identity lens, I present an understanding of the negotiations that occur within the NTs’ personal-professional lives. For each participant there are certain forces at play that push and pull the NT. This research study is located within the interpretative paradigm. Multiple methods were used to generate the data. I used the mediums of collage, artefact and unstructured interviews to obtain my data on the personal-professional lives of Kerusha, Sarah and Elizabeth. The process of gathering and interpreting the data went through various stages until I was able to reconstruct three narratives of the participants’ lived lives. One’s personal-professional self within this distinctive educational environment is negotiated through critical relationships, routines, practices and the rigorous curriculum. NT’s experience many challenges when they enter the profession. This study offers an in-depth experience of NT’s negotiations. This unique contribution to the field of education, adds further understanding and impetus to the growing body of work, that seeks to explore NT selves and NT’s teaching in Private Religious Schools in South Africa. Within the broader, fixed religious schooling environment NT’s cannot exercise agency. My study shows how Kerusha, Sarah and Elizabeth negotiate the challenges they experience within the classroom space by adopting certain practices to be powerful, agentic teachers. A unique, flexible self, creative, non-traditional self and activist, reflective self is how these NTs sustain themselves, through exercising agency in the classroom and with learners. In the absence of induction and mentoring, NT’s in this study formed informal collective learning relationships and individual learning relationships to discuss, manage and cope with the everyday challenges. Through improvising and working spontaneously NTs are able to rethink and rework their meanings and are therefore able to reconstruct their identities.