Stories of schools/teacher stories: a two-part invention on the walls theme
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2000 by The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Patterned in the style of a musical invention, this work adopts Clandinin and Connelly's metaphor of a professional knowledge landscape (1995), Olson's conceptualization of the narrative authority (1993, 1995) of teacher knowledge, and my idea that teachers develop their knowledge in knowledge communities (Craig 1992, 1995a, 1995b, 1998)The first invention outlines the stories of school (Clandinin & Connelly 1996) that Riverview School and Evergreen School were given and the changes that take place over time. The second invention features beginning teacher, Benita Dalton, and her narratives of experience lived and told in the two school contexts. Relating the teacher's stories to the narrative accounts of the two campuses illustrates the extent to which context shapes teachers' practices and bounds their knowing. The work sheds much light on the subtle complexities of teachers' professional knowledge landscapes and adds to the conceptual base of a line of inquiry that focuses on the shaping effect of context on teachers' knowledge developments. An invention, loosely defined, involves the creation, through thought and/or action, of something that did not exist before. Written in the style of a musical invention, this piece is composed of two parts featuring the stories of two schools played against the evolving stories of a teacher who worked in both contexts. While the two parts of the invention both develop the walls theme, each unfolds in a different manner. The two variations which constitute the first part of the invention center on the stories of school (Clandinin & Connelly 1996) that Riverview School and Evergreen School were given and examines how these stories changed over time. The two variations that comprise the second part of the invention highlight beginning teacher, Benita Dalton, her stories of experience (Connelly & Clandinin 1990) lived and told at the two schools, and shifts that took place in her knowledge development. Connecting the fine-grained accounts of an individual with the coarsegrained accounts of schools reveals the extent to which stories of school influence teachers' practices, set the horizons of what is available for teachers to come to know, and adds to the conceptual base of a line of research that examines the how teachers' knowledge developments are influenced by context. The work begins with introductions to Benita Dalton and me, the teacher and the researcher in the study. Discussions of the research method and the theoretical tumbling down at Evergreen, for example, left a narrative scar on the landscape. The faculty, students, and community will continue to work their way through it until the uneasiness fades away, though never entirely disappears. Such occurrences underline the importance of teachers inquiring into the past, present, and future of the professional knowledge landscape of the schools which form the backdrops for their work. Furthermore, it emphasizes how vitally important it is for teachers to reflect both personally and collectively on accumulated human experience. Such reflections would ensure that teachers, new to the profession and/or new to situations, would not become bogged down by the baggage of human experience scattered on the professional knowledge landscape. Stories of schools may not be of teachers' makings, but the stories emanating from them are destined to profoundly shape teachers' practices as Benita's variation on a theme narratives powerfully illustrate. In concluding this two-part invention, I return to Benita, the person, for it is through her generous participation-over many years, across multiple contexts-that has made this sustained inquiry into the stories of schools and her teacher stories possible. Readers will be pleased to know that Benita is finally a tenured employee in the school district, teaching a different grade level in another school context. As can be seen, my close work with Benita represents another installment in a continuing story of her teaching experiences. It particularly illuminates what is available for beginning teachers to come to know and how they come to know as they position themselves in multiple places on the landscape. Above all, this piece shows how teachers like Benita profoundly experience stories of school like those of Riverview and Evergreen. Such narratives, in turn, shape the contours of teachers' experiences, set the horizons of their knowledge developments, and create limitless storiable variations on the professional knowledge landscape.
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