Background: Pre-service teachers (PSTs) typically do not change their beliefs about teaching and learning during teacher education unless they are confronted with, and challenged about, their held beliefs through powerful and meaningful experiences that cause them to recognise and value the change process and its consequences for themselves and their learners. It has been suggested that examining teaching narratives and metaphors might be one way for teacher education to help PSTs in recognising their pre-existing beliefs about teaching and learning. Such practices assist PSTs to reflect on and examine these beliefs and how they impact both their teaching and the learning of their students.Purpose: To understand how the process of examining metaphors influences PSTs' development of beliefs about teaching and learning.Data collection: Sixteen PSTs' initial metaphors and their revised metaphor with narrative of how and why their metaphor did or did not change. The metaphors were collected at the beginning and end of a 1-year Graduate Diploma in Physical Education Programme, respectively.Data analysis: In-depth analysis of the teaching metaphors and narratives utilised a naturalistic inquiry approach of repeated reading of the data identifying themes and patterns identified by the PSTs' responses.Findings: As PSTs analysed their developing beliefs about teaching and learning as articulated through their metaphors, they identified issues, events, experiences, people and context as influencing their changing metaphors. There were instances where PSTs had chosen to change or further extend their metaphor influenced by circumstances that arose in the course of their programme. Such circumstances led to the realisation that (1) teachers are only part of the teaching and learning process (along with students) and are not solely responsible for all learning that occurs in schools, (2) the reality of teaching allows one to refine what is feasible to accomplish as a teacher and (3) there is a necessity to address students' individual needs and acknowledge and accommodate different ways in which they learn.Conclusions: Several PSTs initially viewed themselves as transmitters of knowledge yet, as a result of experience, coursework and peer discussion, moved towards a more constructivist notion of teaching and learning. This was conveyed by the shifting of the learning process from being teacher-led to being student-centred and individually focused. Metaphors are a strong starting point in teacher education programmes. They encourage the PSTs to first acknowledge their experiences and held beliefs. They can then be provided with learning experiences and a community within which they might analyse, explore and modify their beliefs through discussion and identification of alternative ways of thinking about teaching and learning.