This paper presents four teacher educators’ stories that explore their scholarly identity development through an Academic Sandbox metaphor where Play, Tantrums, Building Castles, and Rebuffing Backyard Bullies, serve as creative constructs for describing their experiences of triumphs and challenges in academia. The authors share how a professional learning community (Faculty Academy) functioned as the safe space for “participatory sense-making” (See De Jaegher & Di Paolo, 2007) where situated agency emerged and became strengthened through the telling of the teachers’ stories (Archer, 2003; Clandinin & Connelly, 2000; Kligyte, 2011; McGann, 2014; McLean, Pasupathi, & Pals, 2007). Stories representative of each metaphorical construct are presented and discussed. Narrative inquiry served as the methodological means in which the authors examined their stories as representative events in identity formation.


Scholarly Identity, Situated Agency, Storytelling, Metaphorical Thinking, Professional Knowledge Communities, Narrative Inquiry

Author Bio(s)

Denise McDonald, EdD, is an Associate Professor and Program Coordinator of Teacher Education at the University of Houston – Clear Lake. She teaches pre-service and in-service teachers, as well as doctoral candidates, in courses on curriculum, instructional strategies, critical issues, professional development, and classroom management. She currently serves as chair or methodologist on dissertations of myriad topics, as reviewer for several journals, and as Program Chair for the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Special Interest Group (SIG) Portfolios and Reflection in Teaching and Teacher Education. Her qualitative research methods include narrative, self-study, and ethnography. Her research interests explore teacher identity formation, exemplary teaching practices, reflective and relational pedagogy. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: mcdonald@uhcl.edu.

Cheryl J. Craig, PhD, is a Professor at the University of Houston where she coordinates the teaching and teacher education program. Her research interests are situated at the intersection where teaching and curriculum meet. She is an American Educational Research Association (AERA) Fellow and has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from AERA's Division B (Curriculum). She currently serves as the Executive Editor of Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice and is on the editorial review board of Reflective Practice. She is presently the Secretary of the International Study Association on Teachers and Teaching (ISATT). Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: ccraig@central.uh.edu.

Carrie Markello, EdD, is a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Houston where she teaches art education classes to pre-service generalist teachers and art educators. She is an active member of the Houston art community and founding member of Grassroots: Art in Action, a nonprofit organization encouraging connections between artists and art educators. In addition to her teaching, Markello creates mixed media artworks and holds an extensive exhibition history. Markello’s artmaking, teaching, and community involvement foster her research interests. Her primary interest is in artmaking as a way of knowing. Markello’s research interests also include the professional identity development of pre-service and beginning art educators, and the teaching, community, and artistic practices of art educators. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: cmarkell@central.uh.edu.

Michele Kahn, PhD, is a former Spanish teacher and currently Associate Professor in the Studies in Language and Culture department at the University of Houston-Clear Lake where she teaches courses in intercultural education, language, and communication. She is a frequent presenter on a broad range of issues including gender, sexual orientation, and social justice. Her interests are presently focused on intercultural teacher education, specifically the mind-body connection in teacher beliefs and attitudes. In addition to serving as Vice-President of the International Association for Intercultural Education, she also serves an Associate Editor for the Intercultural Education journal. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: KahnMM@uhcl.edu.

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