Harmonic Convergence: Parallel Stories of Novice Teacher and Novice Researcher



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In the United States, the issue of teacher attrition and retention is particularly critical among early-career teachers. While the overall teacher attrition rate is at 8.0 percent (Keigher, 2010, p. 3), an estimated 46 percent (Ingersoll, 2003) of teachers leave education within the first five years of entering the profession. Over 10 percent of new teachers leave the profession after only one year of teaching and another 12 percent after the second (Kaiser, 2011, p. 3). High teacher attrition carries with it substantial financial and instructional costs as schools are forced to continuously hire new staff (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2005), and students potentially suffer a learning deficit from receiving instruction from inexperienced teachers year after year (Hanushek, Kain, & Rivkin, 2004).

This narrative inquiry centers on the first- and third-year experiences of a high-school history teacher in an inner-city school serving a high-minority, high-poverty student population. It explores the ways in which her situated experiences, personal motivations, beliefs on education, personal practical knowledge (Connelly & Clandinin, 1988), relationships, and support systems contributed to her persistence in education. Novice teacher stories were paired with novice researcher reflections to provide insights into the processes of narrative inquiry (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000; Clandinin, Pushor, &Murray Orr, 2007) as teacher and researcher moved together through the inquiry. Utilizing the narrative representational forms of telling stories (Craig, 1997) and parallel stories (Craig, 1999), teacher and researcher concurrent experiences were presented in two collections of stories, like two movements in a musical composition. The metaphor of harmonic convergence provided a way of talking about the concurrent teacher and researcher narratives paired in a single inquiry, while allowing consonance and dissonant resonances (Conle, 1996, 2000) to emerge. The parallel stories revealed challenges, growth, transformation, and the “intentionality and concreteness of everyday life” (Greene, 1995, p. 10) as educators and researchers.



Beginning teachers, Narrative inquiry, Accountability, Reflection, Emotions in teaching