Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version

May 2006


Published in Studying Teacher Education, 2:1 (May 2006), pp. 77–90; DOI: 10.1080/174259606005 57496 Copyright © 2006 Taylor & Francis/Routledge. Used by permission. Available online at URL:


A middle school is a complex setting in which to develop a sense of self. The following accounts of three young women reveal ways that identity is confronted, offering insights for all learners. The intent is to show how prospective and practicing teachers can gain greater access to fostering identities in the making. The language of Bakhtin gives expression to the necessary teaching and learning conditions for students to look at the sense and selves being made on a continual basis. We conclude that valuing and validating identities in the making require that learning spaces be created, sustained, and nurtured as living, evolving encounters for negotiating ideas, making connections, and seeing possibilities, gaining insights into self and other. Educators must appreciate the student risking of self entailed in such learning encounters. Just as greater self-understanding should be at the core of all learning, and must be known in order to foster such understandings in others, so the tradition of self-study research needs to be at the core of teacher education programs.