This article is based upon a qualitative research study that examined 95 school stories written by Jewish female teacher candidates in an undergraduate education course. Many candidates wrote inspirational or humorous stories about growth and development or a special teacher. However, over one third of the narratives described painful Jewish day schooling episodes with insensitive teachers, stinging rebukes, or public shaming. The findings argue for the enhancement of Jewish educator preparation with attention to professionalization of classroom management and interrogation of assumptions from schooling biographies. This study challenges teacher educators in the liminal space of educator preparation as teacher candidates shift from personal lived schooling experience into professional practice.
Johnson (2008) argues for the place of listening to and collecting preservice teachers’ stories to better understand the preservice candidates in her classes and adjust course curriculum and instruction to their need. “I believe it is imperative that teacher educators create room for teachers’ stories to be told in teacher education settings”(p. 7). This study shows that Jewish day school stories may include wounding experiences and recommends that teacher educators structure inquiry into these episodes to disrupt habitual practices, challenge assumptions, and encourage opportunities for educational reform of Jewish day schools. “Openness, questioning, and wisdom may oftentimes cause pain, but these are growth pains” (Fried,2007, p. 67). Teacher candidates may need to revisit some painful schooling experiences to reframe possibilities and imagine opportunities in their future teaching practices and policies.