Crossroads of the Classroom: Volume 28
Narrative Intersections of Teacher Knowledge and Subject Matter
Table of contents(20 chapters)
In this chapter, three educators recount experiences of professional development from different perspectives in order to examine the intersection of teacher knowledge and subject matter in the areas of science and mathematics education. Professional development projects are productive avenues for exploring this phenomenon. We share stories of experience from professional develop projects of teachers who were situated in different places on the professional knowledge landscape: one elementary school teacher, one teacher educator, and one mathematics educator. From these various vantage points, the relationship between mathematics and science content knowledge and teacher knowledge holds different complexities and complications. Issues related to balancing teacher knowledge with content knowledge in professional development emerge. Based on the stories of experience and the analysis of the narratives, deliberation of curriculum is seen to be a valuable concept when engaging in professional development with teachers. Further, Pragmatic Intellectual Space is proposed for productive approaches to professional development.
The goal of this chapter is to gain a better understanding of the experiences of mathematics anxiety that some women elementary preservice teachers encounter while learning mathematics during their own K-12 years. Specifically, this chapter is an analysis of the personal well-remembered events (WREs) told and recorded by women during their preservice teaching professional sequence. These narrative writings provide a powerful voice for the degree to which mathematics anxiety shape preservice teachers’ beliefs on what it means to learn mathematics. This intersection of teacher knowledge is important, as these are women who are on the professional track to teach mathematics. The focused analysis for this chapter is aimed at ways in which teacher preparation programs could broaden current views of women who have anxiety and confidence issues in mathematics.
In this chapter, we explore two intersecting plotlines of teacher knowledge and content knowledge through an experience in which we engaged our teacher candidates during our mathematics methods course. Teacher candidates were tasked with the challenge of creating hands-on, interactive activities for small groups of fifth-grade students based on a selected Common Core State Standard for Mathematics (CCSS-M) related to the area of fractions. Responsible for both planning and preparing their activities, the teacher candidates were the curriculum designers. What we designed as the practice teaching activity involved a morning of planning and implementing a fraction activity with small groups of fifth-graders in short sessions, making adjustments, prompting and cueing students, extending learning, managing behaviors and distractibility – experiencing the early challenges and rewards of their first experiences in teaching – gaining practice and feedback. Forming the core of this chapter is a narrative construction of Michelle’s personal experience working with teacher candidates and fifth-grade students in practice teaching spaces for the first time, discovering moments along with our students, when they bridged the expansive gap from living as education students to feeling like beginning teachers. Teacher candidates’ responses to the experience and reflections on their challenges and successes are shared.
Through this exploration of subject matter knowledge and teacher knowledge, we present two stories of teaching social studies in the sixth grade. Using a narrative inquiry approach, we share the complexities and complications of teaching children content within standards related to world history and religions. We call on the writings of Schwab to consider these experiences. Using Schwab’s concepts of deliberation, the balanced negotiation between the commonplaces of curriculum in a meaning-making process, first, exposes tensions and the teacher’s acts of negotiating between the learners’ needs and the subject matter (the standards). The teacher stretches to meet the requirements of the standards in different ways that take care of herself and her students. Schwab’s commonplaces are used in a more straightforward exploration of the second story. The interplay between the commonplaces is less nuanced and less deeply understood, coalescing in tensions between the commonplaces. The stories and our analyses illustrate Schwab’s assertion that there is no right alternative. Daily, and moment-to-moment, teachers are in the position of deliberating – making the best choice of many alternatives. “Ramifying consequences must be traced to all parts of the curriculum” (Schwab, 1978, p. 319). Schwab, we find, counsels that the consequences of a chosen action must be considered by all those who must live with those consequences.
This chapter is a collection of reflections on the broader concept of my “story to live by” (Connelly & Clandinin, 1990; Craig, 2008, 2014) as a beginning English Language Arts teacher. Burrowing deeply into the impact of a single phrase from a conversation with a found mentor at the close of my first year, the chapter explores the journey of sustaining in the profession by examining what is here within discussed as a narrative undercurrent that carries each educator toward his or her “best-loved Self” (Craig, 2013; Schwab, 1954/1978). This concept is introduced, and then reflected upon in correlation with the development of knowledge communities (Olson & Craig, 2001; Craig & Huber, 2007), narrative authority (Olson, 1995), and narrative identity (Connelly & Clandinin, 1999; McAdams, Josselson & Lieblich, 2006).
In meditating on the broader narrative, I arrived at the conclusion that the conversation referenced initiated my discovering essential elements of my best-loved Self, and my seeking to actualize them within a forged knowledge community. I moved forward and expanded my knowledge “for,” “in,” and “of” practice (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1998). Through this process, I authored and re-authored myself through conflicts noted across the literature as factors contributing to beginning teacher attrition rates (Craig, 2014; Schaefer, 2013) and preserved my story to live by.
Many literature teachers, operating with good intentions, include in their presentations of multicultural literature moral lessons on the importance of tolerating difference. Unfortunately, as long as teachers continue to label someone or some point of view as “diversity,” they reify the ideal of normal versus abnormal and keep the definition of the latter in the hands of the former. How can a teacher who is dedicated to teaching diversity respond to this problem? I propose that school leaders and teachers can address this dilemma through the medium of literature if reading instruction is utilized to shape students into novice narrative researchers. Working with a current teacher, I applied this approach to the graphic novel, American Born Chinese (Yang, 2006) constructing a unit for ninth grade students in a suburban, Midwestern high school. The curriculum – which infuses principles of narrative research into extant district and state guidelines for teaching literature – frames the text not as a lesson in tolerance, but as a disruptive and potentially transformative experience. I include a description of this process, a selection of lessons, and reflections from the teacher. Considering these elements, I end with a reflection on the potential for narrative and disruptive methodology to (truly) promote diversity. All of us – even teachers – find it hard to confront, accept, and appreciate differences in others, but these activities also have the potential to enrich our communities and lives. Thus, we, with eyes on the future, need to foster these capacities in young people.
This is a narrative inquiry into the phenomenon of teacher retention. Specifically, we study an 18-year teaching veteran’s stories that span her career. We address the question of what sustains her in her profession. We chose to “see big” (Greene, 1995) our teacher participant, Anne, exploring, with her, the particulars of her teaching world, the contextual factors, emotional processes, and her relationship with her administration, subject matter, students. The research opens a view into Anne’s decisions along the way that contributed to her constructing a “story to stay by” (Craig, 2014; Ross & Prior, 2014). Narrative inquiry helped us see big through Anne’s stories. Anne’s best-loved self was closely connected with her professional knowledge landscape. In Anne’s case, her interactions with students, her collaboration with other teachers, and her reactions to the evaluation system stimulated the evolution of her perceptions of herself as a teacher. Therefore, the best-loved self is featured as a dynamic image resulting from continuous interactions between the teacher and other components of the professional knowledge landscape. The teacher’s meaning-making of those interactions, likewise, plays a significant role in shaping his or her image of the best-loved self. Our inquiry into the best-loved reminds teachers that they can cultivate their best-loved selves through personal storytelling that begins with reflection. Anne’s stories of fear, doubt, hope, inferiority, and joy may be important for other teachers. Such reflection may yield further insight into the behaviors and beliefs that encourage and sustain teachers.
An important process for teachers is shaping professional identity. Using narrative approaches to examine complexities of teaching and learning can be beneficial in both performing and understanding this shaping process. For teachers to develop a positive professional identity, they need to perceive that others view them as possessing those characteristics of a quality teacher and need to perceive that others view them as embodying the characteristics (Korthagen, 2004). Researching identity development of Health/Physical Education (HPE) preservice teachers as well as HPE teachers with various years of experience may provide insight regarding shaping teacher identity.
One key aspect is to look at how history has influenced Physical Education status and what can be done to increase PE status as an academic core discipline. By looking at how and why PE has been marginalized, as well as what can be done to decrease marginalization, is key to avoiding further devaluation of PE and its potential removal from the curriculum.
Within this chapter, I use my early experiences as a special education teacher to story and restory how Othering shapes the lives of special education teachers and their students. The disability-as-deficit model labels those students who receive special education services as less than, as outside the norm, as Other. The stories of my early teaching career offer insight into this Othering and link special education subject matter knowledge with my identity as a sibling of an individual with Down syndrome that fuels my teacher knowledge. Clandinin and Connelly’s three-dimensional narrative inquiry space provides a framework to examine the back-and-forth intersections of sibling and special educator knowledge. An autoethnographic exploration results in a critically reflexive narrative that exposes overlapping pieces of Othered identities, and explains how my teacher knowledge situates me differently than my special educator colleagues. The three-dimensional narrative inquiry space also provides the necessary tension between subject matter knowledge and teacher knowledge to create a dialogue of Othering between special education teacher and student. This dialogue pushes the idea of Least Restrictive Environments within social-personal space, and can lead to multiple Othered voices speaking as powerful bridges to span the divide between general and special education, the norm and the Other.
The chapter examines the storied experiences of a preservice teacher in India who transitioned to become a beginning year teacher over the course of this study. Multiple threads unraveled the complex interweaving of her personal and professional selves in her scholarship of teaching, further suggesting that teachers teach who they are. Through the course of this research, I explored the following questions about my participant: What was the source of her energy and passion for working with her students? What did her story reveal about the development of her personal practical knowledge? What were those experiences in the teacher education program which enabled her to intervene and connect with her students at a deeper level? As the inquiry travels back and forth on the temporal dimension, including various social spaces and interactions, my participant demonstrated an evolving understanding of her self-as-a-thinking being with an agency and social justice perspective.
To explore how student teachers (re)construct their professional identities, this chapter contextualizes two student teachers’ practicum experiences in China. The overarching question is how the student teachers (re)construct their professional identities in the practicums, especially where their teacher knowledge and subject matter knowledge meet. By analyzing a flexible matrix of paired stories, the research highlights the collective influences of the multiple instructional contexts: nation-wide Free Teacher Education program policy, recent national curriculum reform in China, and the characteristics of the placement schools. The chapter finds that the student teachers’ professional identities are dynamic and evolving on the professional knowledge landscape. The (re)construction of professional identities involves developing practical knowledge and metaphors by negotiating the tensions the student teachers encountered in the practicums. Meanwhile, the student teachers experienced reflective turns (Schön, 1991) in the practicums, which caused the tension between teacher knowledge and subject matter knowledge and contributed to the formation of their professional identities.
In this chapter, we explore our experiences of co-teaching an undergraduate elementary teacher education class titled, “Teaching Language Arts in FNMI (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) Contexts.” In our curriculum-making for the course, we drew on Narrative Inquiry as pedagogy, as well as on Indigenous storybooks, novels, and scholarship. We chose to work in these ways so that we might attempt to complicate and enrich both our experiences as teacher educators, and the possibilities of what it means to engage in Language Arts alongside Indigenous children, youth, and families in Kindergarten through Grade 12 classrooms. Thus, central to this chapter will be reflection on our efforts to co-create curriculum alongside of students – considered in their multiplicity also as pre-service teachers, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, etc. – in ways that honored all of our knowing and experience. The relational practices inherent to Narrative Inquiry and Indigenous approaches to education, such as the creation and sharing of personal annals/timelines and narratives, along with small and large group conversations and talking circles are pedagogies we hoped would invite safe, reflective, and communal spaces for conversation. While certainly not a tension-free process, all of the pedagogical choices we made as teacher educators provide us the opportunity to attend to the relational and ontological commitments of Narrative Inquiry, to the students in their processes of becoming, to Indigenous worldviews, and to the responsibilities of the Alberta Language Arts curriculum.
About the Authors
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- Book series
- Advances in Research on Teaching
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- Emerald Publishing Limited
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