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2.3 : The Teacher Self

What you are undertaking here might be framed as "teacher research". As much as I wish I could give you a magic formula for writing about children's learning, it is an individual practice that takes time and commitment.  As a teacher, you work with small humans - and humans are variables. Somehow, we often overlook that we educators are also human: you have your own variables.

Teacher research is a loose term to me: you may ask yourself a question about your classroom or your teaching practice that you want to answer, and perhaps you can answer that question in a week, or even a day, just by focusing on that idea. In this workshop, rather than looking outward for answers, I am encouraging you to look inward, understanding yourself as an educator, as a writer, as someone with thoughts, feelings, and opinions.

I think back on my undergraduate education, and I remember the weeks when we focused on observing children. I was taught that observations should be objective: free from emotion or feeling, just facts. Objective was good, subjective (opinion based) was bad. It took me quite a while - years, really - to realize that what I read and learned in college was just one opinion on documentation. When I began Bakers and Astronauts, it was to have a place to reflect, and to connect with other Early Childhood Educators. I found it really difficult to write without my own opinions and ideas. So, I let myself get my opinions and questions out as a way to work through those ideas. Just articulating something in writing is powerful: we may change our mind once we see it on the page, but we've expressed ourselves, and then we can work through the idea.  Sometimes, writing and deleting can be incredibly cathartic!

 

Observing children at work and play, and writing down some notes about what you see them doing and what you hear them saying, is an important precursor to reflection. This is a key part of writing for an audience of stakeholders like parents, colleagues, and community members, but it is just the start of a process that you can use to articulate those thoughts more and more with each step. Why should you edit yourself at the very beginning, when you are just trying to form ideas and questions? Why not let your ideas and thoughts flow, judgement-free? It seems silly to edit yourself as you think - those ideas that are flowing are there for a reason.

To really articulate this idea of the teacher self (and why you shouldn't be so scared of it), your next task is to read Karen Gallas' piece on the role of the "teacher self" in classroom research.

Download the PDF using the button below.