Examining elementary teachers’ puzzles: a cross-disciplinary analysis
O'Connor, Mary Catherine
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Citation (published version)Eve Manz, Lynsey Gibbons, Ada Okun, Jenn Chalmers-Curren, Mary Catherine O'Connor. 2020. "Examining Elementary Teachers’ Puzzles: A Cross-Disciplinary Analysis." International Society of the Learning Sciences. International Conference of the Learning Sciences
We present a cross-disciplinary analysis of the puzzles and tensions elementary teachers experience as they conduct classroom discussion. We describe two teachers’ framings and sense-making about the puzzle of how (much) to steer discussion in light of instructional goals, considering similarities and differences across teachers and disciplines. This work is part of a project to understand how elementary teachers learn to conduct classroom discussions in ways that support deep disciplinary learning and seek to disrupt settled expectations of disciplines, children, and teaching (Bang, Warren, Rosebery, & Medin, 2012). We assume that systems of oppression permeate teaching and learning, for example, through curriculum structures, how subject matter is constituted, and privileged ways of speaking and acting (Bang et al, 2012; Esmonde & Booker, 2016). This poster shares how we have sought to understand the puzzles and tensions that elementary teachers experience as they conduct classroom discussion. We focus on puzzles because they provide windows into teacher sense-making and they may reveal opportunities to work with teachers around their own concerns at the intersection of disciplines, classroom discourse, and power. When teachers frame and try to make sense of puzzles and tensions, they draw upon practices, curriculum materials, and categories for labeling students (Hall & Horn, 2012) that inevitably reflect the dominant ideologies of society, school disciplines, and disciplinary knowing (Louie, 2020). We are interested in understanding how teachers' puzzles and tensions might be similar and different across school disciplines. While elementary teachers typically work with one group of children across content areas, researchers have tended to approach studying and supporting teachers’ practice from the perspective of a particular discipline (e.g., mathematics). We seek to understand how the puzzles and tensions that emerge for teachers might be shaped by school disciplines, and how they can serve to make visible the contradictions and dominant ideologies of larger systems.