This qualitative study examines the narratives of twenty-seven new teachers on the construction of their understandings of social justice and how they inform/influence their practice as they begin their careers. This research is framed by sociocultural theories , theories of agency and praxis , communities of practice and professional knowledge landscapes. As well, this study is informed by pedagogical and philosophical perspectives of social justice education that examine how teachers’ beliefs, values and worldviews inform their identities and/or pedagogy . At the time of fieldwork, the participants had all graduated from a teacher education program focused on issues of social justice and were in their first, second, or third year of teaching. Analysis of the participants’ narratives, gathered in semi-structured interviews, indicates that their initial understandings of social justice are informed by discourses constructed in their families. Other discourses on education, sociocultural affiliations, work and volunteer experiences further shape those understandings as they move away from the figured world of families. These discourses inform participants’ definitions of social justice, which in turn influence the types of social justice they create for their students. Their discourses on grappling with social justice in the context of teaching indicates that teaching assignment realities, curriculum and support either encourage or discourage new teachers from incorporating social justice into their practice. Thus, the extent to which new teachers are able to incorporate social justice into their practice can be related a number of identifying characteristics, dispositions and conditions.
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