Home Articles Reader Opinion Editorial Book Reviews Discussion Writers Guide About TCRecord
transparent 13

Trading Stories: Middle-Class White Women Teachers and the Creation of Collective Narratives About Students and Families in a Diverse Elementary School

by Irene H. Yoon - 2016

Background/Context: Collaboration is increasingly part of teachersí professional learning and continuous improvement of teaching practice. However, there is little exploration of how teachersí racial, gender, and social class identities influence their collaboration with colleagues and, in turn, their teaching and professional learning.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: This study examines shared meanings that are constructed through storytelling by middle-class White women teachers who work in a racially and socioeconomically diverse elementary school I call Fields Elementary. I ask: What narrative tropes do middle-class White women teachers draw upon to create common understanding about what it means to teach at their school? In what ways does a normative middle-class White culture, specifically related to White womanhood, achieve ideological projects through teachersí participation in collective storytelling in professional communities? The article proposes conceptual connections across whiteness, intersectionality, professional learning, and collective storytelling, and provides an empirical example of how the integration of perspectives illuminates this type of complex interaction.

Research Design: Utilizing ethnographic methods of data collection, I spent 5 months at Fields Elementary, dividing my time between two focal teachers, both middle-class White women. I followed these teachers across settings and responsibilities. The data in this critical discourse analysis are drawn from this larger study and come from a conversation in one teacher community (the second-grade team). On completion of preliminary data analysis, focal teachers reflected on findings to enrich interpretations.

Findings/Results: Findings indicate that this teacher community co-constructed narratives reproducing social locations as middle-class White women. Their professional knowledge reflected ambiguity in their efficacy to teach for equitable outcomes. In addition, their professional knowledge was tied to their identities as mothers; narratives reflected middle-class White social distance from students and families, which included asserting teachersí moral superiority in parenting.

Conclusions/Recommendations: This study provides a model for conceptualizing collective storytelling and professional learning among teachers from an intersectionality perspective on whiteness. Empirical findings suggest that institutional constraints of teaching may require interventions at multiple levels: teachersí and leadersí learning how to facilitate professional conversations; home visits intended for "funds of knowledge" professional learning opportunities; hiring and placement of diverse faculty and school leaders to extend construction of professional knowledge; and policy changes. These considerations have implications for teachersí professionalization and for schooling experiences that dehumanize students of color and students living in poverty.

To view the full-text for this article you must be signed-in with the appropriate membership. Please review your options below:

Store a cookie on my computer that will allow me to skip this sign-in in the future.
Send me my password -- I can't remember it
Purchase this Article
Purchase Trading Stories: Middle-Class White Women Teachers and the Creation of Collective Narratives About Students and Families in a Diverse Elementary School
Individual-Resource passes allow you to purchase access to resources one resource at a time. There are no recurring fees.
Become a Member
Online Access
With this membership you receive online access to all of TCRecord's content. The introductory rate of $25 is available for a limited time.
Print and Online Access
With this membership you receive the print journal and free online access to all of TCRecord's content.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 118 Number 2, 2016, p. 1-54
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 18232, Date Accessed: 12/5/2020 3:39:34 AM

Purchase Reprint Rights for this article or review
Article Tools

Related Media

Related Articles

Related Discussion
Post a Comment | Read All

About the Author
  • Irene Yoon
    University of Utah
    E-mail Author
    IRENE H. YOON is assistant professor of Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Utah. She is committed to exploring the roles of justice and equity in the dynamics of instruction and professional learning. Her research includes critical discourse analyses of whiteness in teacher communities and classroom teaching; and qualitative studies of teaching, school improvement, and instructional leadership in diverse, underperforming schools. Recent publications include ďThe paradoxical nature of whiteness-at-work in the daily life of schools and teacher communitiesĒ in Race Ethnicity & Education, 15(5), 2012.
Member Center
In Print
This Month's Issue