How and why did I get here? A narrative inquiry into the paths to teaching of a group of EFL teachers in Hong Kong
thesisposted on 2010-05-19, 11:01 authored by Betty Jean Gran
The genesis for this exploratory narrative inquiry was high teacher attrition in a new vocational English programme in Hong Kong. The study sought to discover whether the paths to teaching of the remaining, successful teachers, as construed in their own accounts, might include commonalities acting as contributors to success. An understanding of such contributors could inform and enhance the teacher selection process. Seven non-native English speaking teachers of English participated in the study, in which they were interviewed and observed in their classrooms. Polkinghorne’s (1995) framework comprising ‘analysis of narratives’ (thematic analysis) and ‘narrative (storied) analysis’ was adopted to respond to the research aim and questions. Thematic analysis of narratives across participants revealed four pertinent themes: (1) perception of a good fit between person and profession, (2) centrality of the student in the teachers’ accounts (3) perception of teaching as an enjoyable and satisfying ‘virtuous cycle’ related to student achievement and (4) a high level of comfort with English as the medium of communication in the classroom. It was suggested that questions crafted to probe for these characteristics could enhance results in teacher recruitment interviews. Analysis of individual participant narratives using structural and literary techniques buttressed by observation data produced nuanced interpretations of the teachers set against the conceptual template of teacher motivation, career and identity derived from the literature and taking into account their cultural context. Portraits of these teachers add to the very limited literature to date on non-native English speaking teachers of English working in their home countries with students sharing their first language. The teachers’ stories and stories of teachers produced in this study illuminate the lives of these members of the teaching profession. Finally, it is suggested that interrogating success is an appealing approach to uncovering knowledge about teachers and addressing educational problems.