10 SES 06 A, Research in Teacher Education: Cultures and Methodologies
In this paper, we hold an understanding of the ways in which narrative inquiry embodies a potential for shaping pedagogy in education. A research project alongside ten elementary and kindergarten teachers helped us explore the potential of stories in education. As we were teaching at the university, we acknowledged the ways in which the schooling stories lived and told by our research participants began to travel to our university classrooms. The act of retelling and reliving those stories opened spaces to remake life in our own classrooms. Therefore, we began to wonder how thinking with the stories and inquiring into them became not only the core of our teaching practice but a pedagogical practice that had been sustaining us in academia (Contreras-Domingo & Pérez de Lara, 2010).
We drew into Clandinin and Connelly’s (1998) understanding that it is education that lives at the core of narrative inquiry “and not merely the telling of stories”. Understanding narrative inquiry as attending to and acting on experience opened several possibilities in our teaching practices. In this way, too, the paper and the current research project we are involved (EDU2016-77576-P) explore how the stories and activities we invited our students to engage in allowed them to connect and relate their own experiences and their embodied wisdom.
Living pedagogy through the significant power of story, we saw how much openness matters. An openness that required a particular understanding of teacher education as an emergent process and as a curriculum that students and teachers create in their everyday interactions. Alongside our students, we built spaces where we cared for the stories, as stories were (and still are) at the heart of how we make meaning of our experiences of the world (Contreras-Domingo & Quiles-Fernández, 2017). The stories shared in the paper show how vital it was to build safe environments, to embrace the silences, and to seek out new wonders. We observed that living narrative inquiry as a pedagogical practice and making spaces for conversation was a core activity in our daily life as teachers. In this sense, we explored with them the centrality of attending to the children’s lives and the making and remaking of themselves as future teachers. This vital, relational, and pedagogical work also shaped our thinking and living as narrative inquirers. Rethinking our ways of doing research provided a reflective orientation on how we attend the wisdom that the inquiry process holds per itself, and how inquiring into the educational world provides awareness and orientation of what we do and how we live in our university classrooms. This reflective attitude reminded us that we are always becoming, and we are what we are not yet (Greene, 1978): two movements that we live, in relation to our students, in our daily lives as teacher educators.
Narrative inquiry is increasingly used in studies of educational experience because it includes both phenomenon and method. As Connelly and Clandinin (1990) described, “narrative is a way of characterizing the phenomena of human experience and its study which is appropriate to many social science fields” (p. 2). Understanding ‘experience as storied’ (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000; Clandinin, 1985), we seek to acknowledge the narratives our students bring into the university classrooms, and to draw on storied experience as data, thus creating new ways of discovering and knowing (Pinnegar&Daynes, 2007). Through sharing stories connected to the content of the course we have been teaching over the years, we noticed how it shifted the core of our teaching practices as well as our ways of sustaining the personal practical knowledge that our students were placed in the middle of the educational relationship built in the classroom. The pedagogical practice that had been sustaining us in academia allowed us to travel to our students’ worlds (Lugones, 1987), opening reflections on educational matters that related to their ways of becoming future teachers. In this sense, the research process required a constellation of conditions lived and retraced in a progressive manner and through the ethics of the relationship (Clandinin, Caine & Lessard, 2018). The practice of thinking with the stories and inquiring into them allowed us to draw on the relational aspects of the three-dimensional narrative inquiry space (temporality, sociality, and place) (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000). Thinking narratively and traversing along these dimensions, we shifted forward and back in the dimensions of social influences, time and personal situations. This movement brought a set of mediations that promoted the discovery of new pedagogical knowledge linked to our educational university practices. Therefore, the process supported us to narratively develop the educational experiences we were experiencing in ourselves as teachers. This paper embraces field notes (reflections related to teaching activities and materials we shared with our university students, artifacts, and photographs) in which we show the many complex ways in which our knowledge had been shaped by the stories of the teachers who participate in our previous research project and of the ways in which our students would shape our knowing as we worked in the university programs alongside them. So, as we tried to comprehend how the stories opened reflections for our students’ future educational practices, we came to story our teaching experiences in the programs we taught.
To explore the stories and narratives shared in our university classrooms allowed us to think about the complexity of the pedagogical knowledge and its sense in our daily lives as teacher educators. The narrative process of living, telling, retelling and reliving (Murray Orr & Olson, 2007) offered us to open a reflective space where we acknowledged the way in which the educational landscape was being co-composed alongside our students. In particular, thinking with the stories offered us the opportunity to explore how took place all the sensitive relationships that were conceived within our curriculum making practices. A curriculum that we perceived as a process of creation in which our students’ narratives helped us to deepen understandings into the institutional and personal tensions that these other forms of knowledge supposed for both of us. Revisiting the experiences we lived alongside our students is offering us a specific orientation for the educational research we are developing now with our new students. At the same time, it is allowing us to rethink what we sought with it because through our teaching practices we became aware of what it means to build a relational pedagogical knowledge, how significant was to attend to the uniqueness of each of our students’ stories, and how to cultivate a relationship in which what we experience inside the university classrooms provides to the teachers greater awareness and guidance.
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