This study reports how participants in an MA course on language education for refugees and migrants in Greece engaged in meaning-making during their teaching placements. The reflections of 33 trainee teachers (elicited in 2021–2022) were thematically analysed using ecological theory. These show how participants negotiated the transition between the ‘ecologies of ideas’ of the postgraduate programme and the locus of their teaching placement. When placed in challenging teaching environments, participants reverted to ‘safer’ practices and performative teaching, which satisfied course requirements. However, growing confidence helped some participants to challenge normative expectations and develop more empowering ways to teach. © 2023 Elsevier Ltd

DOI: 10.1016/j.tate.2023.104454
ISSN: 0742051X