This study compares interview data from four pre-service teachers who took part in an ethnographic study in 2006 whilst on their teacher education course and then were interviewed again in 2015 about their subsequent careers. Their conceptualisations of knowing and of becoming a teacher are explored in order to comment on the process of learning to teach. The article uses concepts from Heidegger’s philosophical enquiry into Being (readiness-to-hand and authenticity) to comment on the longitudinal data analysis. Viewing the interview data through a Heideggerian lens in order to consider the experience of teachers enhances an appreciation of the learning process and helps the researcher see respondents as subjects beyond the fieldwork. Heidegger’s ideas are forwarded as a way for pre-service teachers themselves to consider their own conceptualisations of knowing and becoming so as to recognise and understand what it means to be a teacher. This approach to pre-service teacher education is considered in relation to current research on teacher education and the concerning rate of teacher attrition. With many teacher education systems increasingly focusing on the technical and measurable aspects of teachers’ work the paper promotes a need for opportunities to enquire into and develop the personal, philosophical and theoretical perspectives of teacher education.