Interruptions: Thinking-in-Action in Teacher Education
by Cara Furman & Shannon Larsen - 2020
Background/Context: This paper is a part of the special issue “Reimagining Research and Practice at the crossroads of Philosophy, Teaching, and Teacher Education." We center what follows on a practice used in undergraduate methods courses that we have termed Interruptions. Interruptions are a form of inter-class visitation in which faculty plan together, visit one another’s classes, and publicly interrupt the teaching of the other with a variety of both pre-planned and spontaneous questions relating to the day’s lesson.
Research Design: We weave together a conceptual analysis and qualitative research, drawing from a larger qualitative study conducted in one early childhood and one elementary undergraduate math methods course in Spring 2016. For the study, we co-planned eight lessons together (four in each course), and observed one another teach each of those lessons, while taking notes and purposely interrupting instruction. We collected survey data from students at the end of each classroom observation and interviewed two students from each class at the end of the term. We also kept reflective journals of our work. In this paper we deploy a narrative format to document teacher inquiry drawing upon our reflective journals and classroom observation to describe the development, enactment, and our response to Interruptions.
Outcomes: Our use of Interruptions pushed us to examine our own philosophical beliefs and how they were, or were not, enacted in our teaching practice. We highlight that the connections that emerged between philosophy and teacher education provided us with the necessary time to care for our ethical selves both in and out of the classroom. Specifically, we share how this exercise allowed us each to become more deliberately reflective about the work that we do and why and how we do it.
Conclusions/Recommendations: In addition to giving us time to slow down our teaching in order to think carefully about our choices while in the midst of teaching, we found that we also considered instructional implications long after the Interruptions were complete. Interruptions helped us think more deliberately about the ethical choices we made as educators and in the service of our students. Interruptions proved to have deep and long-lasting effects on our practice as teacher educators. Other practitioners who ground themselves in both philosophy and methods may benefit from similarly systematic approaches for examining their own practice with an eye towards improvements in teaching and understanding of the self.
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