The idea of ‘Apprenticeship of Observation’, proposing that pre-service teachers’ early academic experiences might have effects on their professional development, has been a concern in teacher education in the last forty years. Early success or failure experiences of pre-service teachers in school may have a role in their professional identity development. This study aimed to understand the role of academic performance recollections of pre-service teachers on their professional identity construction from a discursive point of view. Accordingly, the constructions of pre-service teachers in relation to success or failure in their school memories were discursively analyzed. Eighty-one school memories were collected from 87 students who were enrolled in two teacher preparation programs. After the preliminary screening of data, 48 memories were classified as success or failure related in past academic lives of pre-service teachers. The remaining 33 memories were eliminated due to not matching the criterion of academic performance relatedness. Informed by (critical) discursive psychology, the memories of success or failure in school were discursively analyzed. Success and failure were constructed together as the two sides of a performance coin. The academic and professional understandings of pre-service teachers were not independent of their academic history. In their recollections, success or failure was constructed in relation to others and had a role on pre-service teacher’s future academic and career preferences.
Key words: Success, failure, school memories, discourse analysis, pre-service teachers.