Date of Award

Summer 2022

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Judy Sharkey

Second Advisor

Kathryn McCurdy

Third Advisor

Katherine Richardson Bruna


Teacher education programs are predominantly White spaces with their faculty, teacher candidates, curriculum, and practices. In these spaces, the experiences of teacher candidates from minoritized backgrounds can be alienating and their voices can be overlooked or silenced. In three interrelated but distinct studies, this research aims to highlight the experiences and perspectives of educators from minoritized racial, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds as they are conceptualizing their professional identities as educators. These three studies are narratives of becoming as they explore conceptualization of teacher identity through three different narrative methods namely autoethnography, counterstories, and narrative inquiry. Although each study has its unique focus and specific research questions, the overarching questions this project answers are (1) How do the social and cultural contexts in which teaching, and learning occur empower/disempower minoritized identities? (2) How can the experiences of teacher candidates and novice teachers from minoritized racial, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds inform teacher education programs to create spaces that can support them to conceptualize their professional identities as teachers? The first study responds to these questions through an autoethnographic account of my own identity conceptualization as a novice teacher educator, a former language teacher, and an international doctoral student who identifies as a Turkish immigrant, a translingual and a transnational woman. The second study is a critical dialogue that I conducted with a colleague, who is a former student, as we explored how our linguistic identities influenced our pedagogies and approaches to language learning. In this smaller study, my collaborator discussed how she refrained from tapping into her African American Vernacular Dialect while teaching, whereas I talked about my insecurities with being positioned as a “non-native” English speaker. We discussed the ideologies we had internalized and analyzed how this affected the decisions we made when we first started teaching. Finally, the third study is a narrative inquiry following three novice teachers of color as they talk about their early schooling, teacher education programs, and their interactions with their students and colleagues in order to understand how they conceptualize their emergent teacher identities. Theoretical frameworks used throughout the studies are intersectionality, raciolinguistics, and teacher identity. Teacher identity in this work is theorized as multiple, and changes based on social interactions with other teachers, students, teacher educators, administrators, and the broader community (Barkhuizen, 2016) and is conceptualized in conjunction with teachers’ own social and cultural identities. Intersectionality helps analyze the conceptualization of teacher identity across the smaller studies through the complex ways that marginalization and privilege operate and it accounts for complexity and diversity within various identities and communities a person becomes a part of (Tefera et al., 2018). Thus, intersectionality was critical in analyzing how the social, cultural, and political contexts of participants, as well as their multiple identities, influenced their pedagogies and narratives of becoming. Completing my analytical lens was raciolinguistics, which explains how certain bodies are racialized and positioned as inferior and their linguistic practices are perceived as deficient (Rosa & Flores, 2017). As racial and linguistic identities were centers of discussions throughout the smaller studies, raciolinguistics helped frame participants’ experiences within the power dynamics that privilege whiteness and standard American English. Overall, the aim of this overarching project is to highlight the voices and experiences of educators from minoritized racial, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds in order to inform teacher education programs to better meet the needs of teacher candidates from non-dominant backgrounds. Moreover, this project contributes to the conversation about “who has power and what counts as “expertise” in teacher education (Pham, 2018). Synthesis of all three studies show that the participants, who are educators from minoritized racial, ethnic, linguistic, and cultural backgrounds, experience in-betweenness in one shape or form such as in-between two races, two cultures, or two communities, feel hesitant to take space in critical conversations around race and identity, and strive to claim agency over one or more aspects of their identities. Furthermore, participants across the three studies were using their own stories and experiences to empower their students. Overall, these narratives of becoming can be used to inform teacher education programs into more inclusive spaces. First of all, autoethnography, which is the methodology for the first study, can be used in teacher education curriculum as a self-reflexivity tool for teacher candidates and teacher educators to examine how their experiences influence their pedagogies and how these experiences are situated and influenced by the larger socio-political contexts. Secondly, exposure was a recurring concept that shaped the participants’ experiences in their programs. This includes exposure to diverse voices in the curriculum and exposure to diverse student populations within student teaching. This was particularly important for educators of Color in these studies because teachers of Color are assumed to inherently know how to work with diverse student populations simply on the basis of their race and ethnicity (Jackson et al., 2015). However, the narratives of participants demonstrate that although they were eager to have critical conversations with their students, they sometimes struggled or felt hesitant to do that. All in all, studies in this dissertation are limited in their scope to the experiences of a few participants but they provide valuable insight into the conceptualization of teacher identity at the intersections of race, ethnicity, language, and culture.