Poetry in TESOL Teacher Education: A Chinese Teacher’s Identity Negotiation and Reconstruction Before and During the Pandemic
This case study explores how Meili (pseudonym), a pre-service teacher in a TESOL and World Language Education program, negotiated and reconstructed her identity as a multilingual graduate student in her emergent bilingual poems through two poetry classes offered in spring 2018 and summer 2019. Her reflections and stories in the interviews are analyzed under the framework of arts-based research. The findings point out that this non-English native multilingual teacher negotiated and reconstructed her emerging teacher-poet identity through bilingual poetry in three main ways: (a) she challenged the long-existing norms and judgments set by her English monolingual peers by bringing her multilingual voice in her English poems, (b) she combined her personal experiences as a multilingual international student in the U.S. to reconstruct an ideal identity that she aspires to as a pre-service teacher, and (c) she used translingual creative writing to exhibit and expand her linguistic and cultural repertoires which contribute to the ongoing construction of her teacher-poet identity. This analysis has implications for poetry and other arts-based approaches to be included in TESOL teacher education to help pre-service and in-service teachers from diverse backgrounds disrupt problematic norms in the field during and after the pandemic. The affordance of poetry also enables multilingual teachers to mediate and reshape their desired teacher identity through their poem writing combined with their life experiences.
Keywords: TESOL, teacher education, multilingual teachers, pre-service teachers, poetry