10 SES 07 E, Beginner Teacher Narratives and Visual Cartographies
This paper builds on an ongoing RTD project "How teachers learn: Educational implications and challenges to address social change" (EDU2015-70912-C2-1-R), partially funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. The main goal is to research what, how and where secondary school teachers learn; and the consequences of such learning in improving pedagogical relations and students’ learning processes and results. Exploring how teachers learn in a complex and digital world seems essential to confront the challenges that teacher’s professional development programs and schools are facing regarding social change and innovation. Our study is mapping out those scenarios in and outside schools where teachers learn and find sources of knowledge and experience. We invited secondary school teachers to build visual cartographies that would represent their learning trajectories and spaces. Visual cartographies are understood as an arts-based research method that allows the exploration of interstices, displacements, instable journeys, ways of knowing, assemblages and entanglement through which teachers perform their learning paths (Paulston, & Liebman, 1994; Ruitenberg, 2007; Ulmer & Koro-Ljungberg, 2015). During the cartography building sessions, we talked about their nomadic learning displacements (Braidotti, 2006, 2014), their tensions and expectations. In these conversations, the teachers explained their doubts, intentions, background and much more.
Since our data contain both visual and textual elements, we started to wonder about the role of each one and the possible relations between what could be the spatial organisation of the cartographies and the temporal order of the narratives if there were any. Considering that we decided to use cartographies because we acknowledged the complexity and uncertainty surrounding our research questions and we did not want to limit ourselves to structured educational discourses (Ulmer & Koro-Ljungberg, 2015), having narratives in our data questioned their role. Maps are discursive and do not merely represent the world, they produce worlds that are different from the ones that are constituted through other discourse (Ruitenberg, 2007). One of the main differences is the emphasis on temporality or spatiality: while narrative discourse may emphasize temporality paying less attention to spatiality, maps can highlight the spatial character of educational experience (Ruitenberg, 2007). Cartographies may also help studying the different kinds of webs (discourse, power, information etc.) related to educational theory and practice. For some, cartographies are part of the spatial turn that stops privileging time over space (Jones et al., 2016). Our research group has an extensive experience with narrative research (Hernández et al., 2010; Sancho & Hernández-Hernández, 2013), especially on how teachers explain their learning and construct their professional identity. We have heard and helped writing many teachers’ professional life histories bound by multiple time perspectives (Ricoeur, 1996). We are also familiar with teleological explanations (Brockmeier, 2000) and the need to make sense of one’s life history (Padilla-Petry et al., 2014). Thus, the current research has given us a unique opportunity to analyse the textual narratives produced alongside the cartographies. How are time and space presented in this context? Do they still privilege time over space (Jones et al., 2016)? How do teachers situate and explain their learning in the textual narratives generated from the cartographies? Do these narratives rely on theoretical assumptions about learning? Do they escape “overly structured educational discourses” (Ulmer & Koro-Ljungberg, 2015, p.139)? Did the previous construction of the cartographies help produce textual narratives that show different worlds and kinds of webs (Ruitenberg, 2007)? And finally: what is the nature of the relation between the cartography and the narrative? Do they contrast or complement each other?
The research was carried on in three secondary schools from the area of Barcelona with 29 voluntary teachers. They received a document that presented our research group experience and explained the goals and methods of the research. A group of researchers interacted with and helped the teachers build their cartographies. The whole process was video recorded and field notes were taken. Upon finishing their cartographies, each teacher was video recorded explaining his/her cartography. During the first phase of the fieldwork, we met with groups of 8-12 teachers in each of the participant schools. They were asked to think of and relate three issues: a) the learning places b) their moves between the inside and the outside of the institution, and c) the sense they made of the very act of learning. Our role as researchers was limited to accompanying one or two teachers and asking questions about the process of building the cartography. Six months later, we returned to the schools to share with them what the cartographies and their narratives had made us think about learning and our encounter. This session was divided into three moments: a) first we showed a video clip of the first session, b) then we had individual talks with each teacher to give a personal feedback and c) finally we had a general discussion with the whole group about the research. For the current paper, we analyzed the transcriptions of the video recordings of each teacher after his or her cartography was finished. These videos lasted between 3 and 8 minutes. In all of them, the cartography was hanging on a wall and the teacher was standing next to it. After talking about their cartography, they were asked what they thought about the cartography building process itself. The transcriptions were thematically analyzed (Braun & Clarke, 2016) both inductively and deductively. Since the teachers’ narratives intertwined time and space, we first separated the narrative fragments that referred to the past and the ones that were about the present. Then, we classified the learning interactions described in all of them (with people, objects, spaces etc.). We also created categories for narrative fragments that were not necessarily about learning or elements of the cartography (e.g. personal beliefs about teaching, ideas that were left out of the cartography).
The most important finding is perhaps how time and space intertwine in the teachers’ narratives. Although most of the cartographies seemed to be organized by physical and relational spaces (e.g. school, gym, family, friends, students), almost all narratives mentioned different moments in time (e.g. childhood, youth), that were implicitly represented in the cartographies’ elements. Although the cartographies were explicitly much more about spaces than moments in time, they did represent the latter, but that was not evident before the teachers’ textual narratives. Often, a space in the cartography represented also a moment in time (e.g. the school of my childhood). The cartography building process did not inhibit a teleological thinking or a temporal order behind the teachers’ reflections about their learning. It did however generate a narrative that was more spatially organized. Both the cartographies and the textual narratives refer to teacher learning through relations with people, objects and physical spaces. It seems that the cartographies helped the teachers to take into consideration interactions with objects and physical spaces outside the school (e.g. with books, with the water while swimming etc.). We have not yet analyzed the discourse of the narratives to see if they avoid or repeat structured educational discourses, but we can say that the narratives were all about the cartographies, although not limited to them. While explaining the cartography’s elements, they were not about learning theories and whenever they went beyond the cartographies, they were telling stories or explaining thoughts that were actually the background of the cartography. The relation between the cartographies and the narratives seemed more of a complementary one because the textual narrative added details to the cartographies, but only after they were done. Many teachers explicitly reported being able to think all that because of the cartography building process.
Braidotti, R. (2006). Transpositions. On Nomadics Ethics. Cambridge: Polity Press. Braidotti, R. (2014). Writing as a Nomadic Subject. Comparative Critical Studies II(2-3), 163–184. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative research in psychology, 3(2), 77-101. Brockmeier, J. (2000). Autobiographical time. Narrative Inquiry, 10(1), 51-73. Hernández, F., Sancho, J. M., Creus, A. & Montané, A. (2010). Becoming university scholars: inside professional autoethnographies. Journal of Research Practice, 6(1), M7. Jones, S., Thiel, J. J., Dávila, D., Pittard, E., Woglom, J. F., Zhou, X., Brown, T. & Snow, M. (2016). Childhood geographies and spatial justice: making sense of place and space-making as political acts in education. American Educational Research Journal, 53(4), 1126-1158. Padilla-Petry, P., Hernández-Hernández, F. & Creus, A. (2014). Let’s begin with ourselves: attempting resonance responses in the exchange of researchers’ profesional autobiographies. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 46(6), 819-838. Paulston, R. G. & Liebman, M. (1994). An Invitation to Postmodern Social Cartography. Comparative Education Review 38(2), 215–232. Ricoeur, P. (1996). Sı ́ mismo como otro [Oneself as Another]. Madrid: Siglo XXI. Sancho, J. M. & Hernández-Hernández (2013). Developing autobiographical accounts as a starting point in research. European Educational Research Journal, 12(3), 342-353. Ruitenberg, C. (2007). Here Be Dragons: Exploring Cartography in Educational Theory and Research. Complicity: An International Journal of Complexity and Education 4(1), 7–24. Ulmer, J. B. & Koro-Ljungberg, M. (2015). Writing Visually through (Methodological) Events and Cartography. Qualitative Inquiry 21(2), 138–152.
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