Mothers who are student teachers: navigating their dual roles in pre-service teacher education
Many students in New Zealand are now of mature age, female, and mothers of dependent children (Allister et al. 2006). These students typically experience the challenge of sharing themselves between their children, partners, extended families and their fellow students, lecturers and studying. This research explored how a group of student-teachers who were also mothers experienced these dual roles and sought to document their beliefs, motivations, attitudes to these roles from the time they had entered teacher education. The following key themes emerged from the in-depth interviews with the women: strong motivation for wanting to become primary school teachers; the impact this decision had on the lives of their children, partners and extended families; the particular issues they faced as they tried to navigate the roles of mother and student-teacher; and the suggestions they had for continuing education and tertiary institutions to improve opportunities for other mothers wanting to study. This last theme is perhaps the most pertinent, as it offers implications for continuing education institutions wanting to attract and retain these students, who, as a group, represent a growing demographic trend in the student population.