Dr. Heidi Hadley’s new book, “Navigating Moments of Hesitation: Portraits of Evangelical English Language Arts Teachers,” has officially hit bookshelves. The book, published by Myers Education Press, is part of their series “Critical Perspective on Religion and Education.”
In her book, Hadley examines the way teachers’ religious identities shape their classroom practices. Using the portraits of three evangelical Christian teachers as examples, the book explores the tensions they feel between their teaching identities and their religious identities in the United States public education system.
Much of the inspiration for the book came from Hadley’s experiences teaching in the Deep South. “I knew, demographically at least, that the teacher education program I was teaching in was most likely populated by evangelical Christians. However, I also noticed that we never talked about students’ (future teachers’) religious identities and the way religious identities affect and shape classroom practice—both in positive and negative ways. My interest in the topic started there, so I started interviewing evangelical Christian teachers about their experience in the teacher education program,” Hadley says.
“Navigating Moments of Hesitation: Portraits of Evangelical English Language Arts Teachers” follows three of Hadley’s original interviewees into their own classrooms to explore what they do with their personal religious identities and how they navigate any tension. Hadley explains, “There are ways in which these teachers find their religious identities to be helpful in classroom spaces: their concept of Christian love, for example, often deeply informs the way they relate to students in the classroom and motivates them to sacrifice their own time and money for their students. On the other hand, the evangelical teachers in this study faced considerable moments of hesitation because of their religious identity when it came to issues of gender and sexuality: their religiously informed conceptions of gender made it difficult for them to navigate relationships with LGBTQ+ students or conversations around LGBTQ+ rights.”