Repository logo

A narrative inquiry into the power of storytelling about past experiences in early-career teachers’ identity development.

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



I am a newly qualified teacher, interested in enhancing my professional knowledge and learning. I wanted to understand the power that storytelling about past experiences could have on developing early-career teacher identities. My narrative inquiry focused on four early-career teachers, including myself, who shared our stories. This study was framed by a constructivist approach, which helped me identify that identity is contextual, and always being formed and re-formed through experiences and interactions with others. Teachers’ identities are actively being constructed and reconstructed through exposure to life experiences and our interpretations of them. The main research question was: How can the power of storytelling influence the identity development of early-career teachers? This was divided into two sub-questions. The first was: What stories do early-career teachers draw on and tell when asked how their past experiences, to identify what might have shaped their professional identities? The second sub-question was: How do early-career teachers’ identities shift when they are invited to re-tell their past experiences through storytelling? The data generation methods of memory drawing, collage making, interviewing, and journalling allowed me to witness the early-career teachers’ stories. I drew on the generated data to compose creative nonfiction pieces. After that, developing an interpretive memory drawing and collage enabled me to recognise and make visible connections across participants’ drawings and collages. These creative analytical practices assisted me in understanding and perceiving aspects of the research that I would not be able to otherwise. I developed insights into participants’ thoughts, feelings, and experiences, and identified similarities and differences. I created themes to highlight the stories shared and to recognise the identity shifts. These were Stories of Hardships, Stories of Appreciation and the Desire to Improve, and Stories of Excitement and Clarity. These themes represent stories which early-career teachers told about their lived experiences, what shaped their professional identities, and their recognition of the shifts in their identities. This research highlights significant links between past experiences, storytelling and early-career teacher identity development. It invites readers to become aware of our stories’ power to influence who we are and potentially positively impact who we will become.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.