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Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Culminating Project Title

Diary of a Downfall

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: Teaching English as a Second Language: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Marya Teutsch-Dwyer

Second Advisor

James H. Robinson

Third Advisor

Ramón Serrano

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Teaching diary, diary study, ESL, identity transformation, first-year teacher, teaching journal, journal study


A diary study is an intense, reflective look at teaching experiences or learning experiences kept in a journal by an individual and analyzed for recurring patterns or themes. When done by teachers, these studies can show how teachers' perceptions of themselves and their attitudes about teaching change over time. I started keeping a personal diary of my teaching experience when I began my first teaching job in a small, rural district in southwestern Minnesota. As the district's first ESL teacher and coordinator, I faced many problems, frustrations, and setbacks. The way I dealt with my negative experiences was to write about them in a teaching diary. Keeping a teaching diary allowed me to document my hopes, goals, small triumphs, frustrations, and insecurities as a first-year teacher and in the two years that followed. I have discovered the diaries to be a personal account of my transformation from ESL teacher to student advocate or counselor over the span of three years. They document the frustrations and challenges I faced as a first-year teacher placed into a leadership role I was not prepared for and my subsequent experiences in that leadership role in the two years that followed. The focus of this thesis is to analyze my personal identity transformation using my teaching diaries as my research data. Although this study focuses on entries of personal teaching diaries, the information garnered may be of interest to novice teachers going into the field of ESL or going to teach in small districts in rural areas.

OCLC Number