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Collaboration, Narrative, and Inquiry that Honor the Complexity of Teacher Education

reviewed by Kim Song - April 01, 2021

coverTitle: Collaboration, Narrative, and Inquiry that Honor the Complexity of Teacher Education
Author(s): Karen R. Gísladóttir, Amy J. Lachuk, & Tricia DeGraff
Publisher: Information Age Publishing, Charlotte
ISBN: 1648022081, Pages: 150, Year: 2020
Search for book at Amazon.com

Three teacher educators present their collaborative narratives and transnational inquiry on the complexity of teaching in 2020’s Collaboration, Narrative, and Inquiry that Honor the Complexity of Teacher Education. The three authors, Karen Ruth Gísladóttir, Amy Johnson Lachuk, and Tricia DeGraff, first met while studying at the University of Wisconsin-Madison almost 20 years ago. Karen is an Associate Professor at the University of Iceland’s School of Education, Amy was an Assistant Professor at Hunter’s College and now is an independent scholar, and Tricia was Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and is currently principal of the Academy for Integrated Arts in Kansas City. Twenty years after they met in the U.S., they decided to continue their collaborative narratives and inquiry not just as critical friends, but also as “inquaintances.”

The aim of the book is to share the authors’ journeys as teacher educators and shed light on the issues they have been tackling, through their collaborative narratives and inquiry, to understand the complexity of becoming teachers of teaching. Efforts also have been made among them to improve university-based teacher-education practices relevant to the needs of teachers and teacher candidates (Baecher & Kung, 2014; Darling-Hammond, 2010; Lucas & Villegas, 2011; Kincheloe, 2011). In this book, the three authors, through their stories about ongoing inquiry on the complexity of teaching, emphasize the importance of how and why they need to nurture themselves. The authors thus create a platform where they can continue their collaborative narratives and inquiry on teaching. Through the selected narratives, the authors describe how they enact a practice-based approach with humility and courage by presenting the challenges and complexities they have encountered as teacher educators.

This book consists of Introduction, Preface, Acknowledgement, eight chapters, five caesuras, and References, for a total of 139 pages. The Introduction starts with a title of Inquaintances in Inquiry that addresses “one with whom you possess a rare, in-depth, and intimate knowledge: Few friendships reach the inquaintance stage” (p. ix). The inquaintance is a metaphor to describe a relationship that solidifies the knowledge of one another, allowing the three authors “to enter into a deeper form of understanding of each other and their work” (p. ix).

Chapters 1, 2, and 3 deal with an overview of collaborative narrative inquiry, the practice-based teacher education (PBTE) perspective, and their vision of collaborative narrative inquiry as a professional and moral stance. Chapters 4, 5, and 6 articulate specific instances of collaborative narrative inquiry in practice, with outcomes, by each of the three authors. In Chapter 4, Lachuk addresses the implementation of edTPA (Teacher Performance Assessment) in two literacy methods courses by infusing collaborative inquiry practices for the teacher candidates to be engaged with the course content as teacher learners. Chapter 5 frames Gísladóttir’s engagement with collaborative narrative inquiry as a novice teacher educator; she brings a strong understanding of teacher inquiry, as a classroom teacher of deaf children, into development of her teacher candidates’ inquiry mindset. In Chapter 6, DeGraff shares how she used collaborative narrative inquiry as a teacher educator and contemplates her career transition to principal of a charter school, where she challenges herself to bring inquiry as the professional development model.  Chapters 7 and 8 propose implications from their work as teacher educators.  Imagining, trustworthiness, and integrity are the key concepts addressed in these two final chapters.

There are five caesuras, or narrative breaths, that follow in Chapters 1, 2, 3, 7, and 8.  Through these caesuras, the authors present their intentional narratives to represent the point of articulation that demonstrates their collaborative narrative inquiry process, so readers can take a breath, reflect, and connect the chapter content with their own imagined ideas. The end of each chapter includes a chapter summary and “invitation for inquiry and reflection” questions. The final caesura by the three authors poses solutions suggesting ongoing inquiry as a part of “becoming” teacher educators, which is not a completed action.

There has not been much research on practice-based teacher education that addresses teacher educator mindsets, belief systems, values, and/or relationships (Baecher & Kung, 2014). Many teacher education scholars, however, have addressed the significance of K–12 teacher mindsets, belief systems, values, and attitudes toward their diverse learners. This book not only focuses on inquaintance and socially just belief system development among teacher educators, but also provides principles of PBTE that enhance integrity and trustworthiness by emphasizing learning by doing, thinking, engaging, communicating, approximating, embedding field experiences, and performing evidence-based assessment. This book also addresses transnational or global communities of inquiry, which is a weak area in teacher education programs in the U.S. It is very important to help teacher candidates expand their vision so they can link their individual views to world views, and they need to challenge racial, linguistic and cultural inequities in education by positioning their vision to a global community of inquiry.

Lachuk’s story about “falling” in Chapter 4 provides a space to celebrate the experience as an asset. In Chapter 5, Gísladóttir’s journey as a teacher educator in Iceland addresses fighting for her professional life and how she starts to accept who she is and how she follows her heart. DeGraff’s story in Chapter 6 of transitioning from a teacher educator to principal of a school tells us about how she practices collaborative inquiry in the actual classroom context. The story about “listening to wild geese” announces a place for teacher educators showing efforts to humanize teaching and also “becoming” rather than completing. This “becoming” becomes a main theme of the stories by celebrating the falls and mistakes which are part of our learning and teaching.

There are several areas that may need improvement. The most significant content of this book is the collaborative narratives. However, the stories in the Introduction, five Caesuras, and Chapters 4, 5, and 6 are repeated several times. It would be better if these stories were organized so readers could meet the new stories individually rather than rereading them several times. It would also have enriched the book if there had been narratives by colleagues, teacher candidates, and K–12 learners that supported the authors’ journeys, making them more valid and reliable. The book would also be more evidence-based if it told readers more about how, when, and where they might develop an inquaintance that is deeper than being just critical friends. We are also left wondering about the platform they have used to continue their collaborative narrative inquiry.


Baecher, L., & Kung, S. (2014). Collaborative video inquiry as teacher educator professional     development. Issues in Teacher Education, 22(2), 93–115.

Darling-Hammond, L. (2010). Teacher education and the American future. Journal of Teacher Education, 61(1–2), 35–47.

Kincheloe, J. L. (2011). The knowledges of teacher education: Developing a critical complex epistemology. In K. Tobin, K. Hayes, & S. Steinberg (Eds.), Key works in critical pedagogy (pp. 227–243). Sense.

Lucas, T., & Villegas, A. M. (2011). Preparing linguistically responsive teachers. In T. Lucas (Ed.), Teacher preparation for linguistically diverse classrooms: A resource for teacher educators (pp. 55–72). Routledge.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: April 01, 2021
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 23653, Date Accessed: 11/29/2021 8:56:07 AM

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About the Author
  • Kim Song
    University of Missouri-St. Louis
    E-mail Author
    KIM SONG, Ed.D., is professor of Department of Educator Preparation and Leadership of COE at University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has been working at UMSL since 2002. She teaches undergraduate, and graduate students including doctoral levels. Thanks to the UM system eLearning grant, Kim developed all of the seven TESOL courses online and has been taught the online TESOL courses since 2007. Applying theories from experiential teaching-by-doing, her main research lines of inquiry examine:
    1) evidence-based urban teaching and learning;
    2) racially, linguistically, and culturally sponsive (RLCR) content teaching using guided online coaching
    3) creativity in technology-mediated teaching for urban and immigrant/refugee children in PK-12 contexts, and
    4) equity in English language education. Her professional service entails not only as a professor at UMSL, but also as a resident of the Missouri community and a global citizen.
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