A narrative study: how a master teacher develops personal connections with issue-centered social studies
Intrigued by the dearth of teachers teaching with issue-centered social studies (ICSS), trying to unfold the gap between social studies scholars' embracing ICSS and school teachers' ignorance of it, the researcher examined how the two master high school social studies teachers (one is in ESL department) have made personal and professional connections with ICSS. The study attempts to understand whether teachers' personal connection with ICSS (subject matter) is essential for teachers' teaching with ICSS.In this study, self-narrative is the main data source to construct teachers' life stories. Following Polkinghorne's (1988, 1996) concepts of narrative and narrative knowing, narrative inquiry through intensive personal interviews is the main method to collect data. "Narrative" and "story" are used interchangeably. Other research methods including classroom observations and artifact analysis are used to construct a whole picture of the two teachers.The findings indicate that the two teachers have constructed their practical teaching theories (PTT) with ICSS through a non-linear path, which has evolved mainly from their personal lives, teaching practices, and professional learning opportunities. Other discoveries include that teachers' ICSS is different from theoretical ICSS; it is more locally oriented and student-focused. Two specific phenomena are worthy of attention: One is self as a main agent for the teachers' decision-making; another is the phenomenon of "borderland discourses" in which the teachers' self-concept was challenged. These two phenomena also suggest that teachers' identities influence their teaching practices. The relationships among various components in PTT are particularly worth of further exploration and study. These include teachers' practical pedagogy, borderland discourse, teachers' concepts of ICSS (or other subject matter), PTT, and their professional identities.To conclude, teaching practice is interwoven with teachers' knowledge which is closely tied with their personal histories and knowledge. To explicate teaching practice from a holistic perspective, separately analyzing teachers' identities or professional knowledge is insufficient. In other words, the academic disciplinarian expects teachers to employ ICSS but the pre-condition is that teachers make personal and/or professional connections with ICSS.
- Education - Seattle