Negotiating Pedagogy in Context

Reflections


Most of my research and scholarship has focused on how bilingual youngsters from Latino background learn and use languages and literacy both in and out of school. This perspective is reflected in my work as a teacher educator, particularly in my most recent efforts to involve my students in inquiry projects focused on their engagements with youngsters outside of school. From my vantage point, these projects have enhanced my students' understanding of learning and teaching as culturally defined processes and of conceiving of children's experiences in their homes and communities as instructional resources for learning in school. For my Quest project, I had originally thought that I would pursue this interest by developing websites and assignments that would involve students in explorations of learning and teaching outside of school. However, I soon realized that I had neither the time nor the technological skills to execute this plan for my initial project as a Quest Fellow. Instead, I decided to narrow the scope of my work to concentrate on using teacher websites as texts in a teacher education course that I teach on the learning and teaching of literacy.

As I state in the link on my website entitled "Finding my Focus," the students' responses to an initial assignment helped me to revise my plans and to have students look more closely at a single website. Ironically, this decision helped me to refocus my lens as a teacher educator to consider contexts and circumstances that are shaping my students' development as teachers, including the institutional contexts that so alarmed them as they began to explore how policy initiatives were impacting the lives of children and teachers in their placements. Further, as I tried to understand the perspectives through which students were making sense of Jenn Myers' website, I began to see how students' own emerging identities as teachers or student teachers mediated the way they made sense of Jenn's practice. In addition, I began to consider how aspects of their experiences in other courses influenced what went on in my class. These insights along with research that Katharine Samway and I are conducting about how teachers are interpreting policy initiatives in their districts and schools have alerted me to the importance of enacting a situated pedagogical perspective that acknowledges and builds on the multifaceted experiences and complex contexts that my teacher education students are negotiating. I hope to further expand upon this commitment in the upcoming year when I engage my students in a more explicit discussion of the roles and identities that other educators have assumed when negotiating many of the policies that have shaped their professional lives and the learning and teaching that has gone on in the schools and classrooms where they have worked. In so doing, my goal will be to more carefully document and reflect upon what transpires in and beyond my classroom than I did during the 2005-06 academic year.

The multimedia aspect of this project was something that I found quite challenging. Although two videographers from my campus did some video taping during one class session, I really should have figured out a way to get more help recording what transpired in my teacher education class over the course of the quarter as I found reviewing video tapes to be key when it came to reflecting on my practice. While teaching my Ed.D. class spring quarter, I used the Carnegie camera (after a lesson from Desiree -- Gracias!!) to document class sessions. Despite producing tapes comprised mostly of the tops of my students heads or my own feet, I did more or less get the hang of filming while teaching. I hope that I can continue to improve upon my technique next fall.

Thanks to Desiree's and Cheryl's efforts, I was able to negotiate the process of selecting video snippets and setting up templates to use on my website. Although this process seemed more than formidable during the January convening, I think I have enough of a grasp of what needs to be done to do this on my own -- maybe. Moreover, I am looking forward to learning much more about the process so that I can share my learning with my colleagues at my campus.

I look forward to continuing my work with others involved in the Quest Project.

Felicidades y gracias,

Cindy




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Knowledge Media Lab of The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
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