Looking to our Past to Re-Envision our Future: A Co/Authoethnographic Study of Teacher Candidate Supervision across International Contexts

November 2019

Source: Studying Teacher Education, 15:3, 296-316

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The three authors, two doctoral students in a class taught by the third author, an associate professor, embarked upon a co/autoethnography as way to collectively explore their experiences with and conceptualizations of supervision across international contexts.
Co/ autoethnography served as a way to analyze how their past influenced their present with the added piece of recognizing how ‘the conception of the self . . . is culturally constructed and informed’ (Coia & Taylor, 2010, p. 5).
This study provides an additional lens of how co/autoethnography supports teacher educators and emerging teacher educators with experiences across international contexts in making sense of supervision.

This self-study research allowed the authors to inquire into their beliefs and practices as an educator with a focus on better understanding the interaction between beliefs and practices for the improvement of learning’ (Berry & Crowe, 2010, p. 85).
Specifically, they employed co/autoethnography (Butler & Diacopoulos, 2016; Coia & Taylor, 2010) as a method for self-study.

Their research questions included:
● What are their conceptions of supervision across international contexts?
● In what ways have their contexts influenced how they make sense of supervision?

Part of the authors’ goal was to engage in collaboration and dialogue about supervision.
They felt that the use of narratives would support this and the opportunity to create a ‘new, collaborative text that is formed through the process of sharing and discussing our individual narratives’ (Taylor & Coia, 2009, p. 175).
Finally, this method would allow them to accentuate culture and situate their stories in the larger social context.
They hoped to learn about the different contexts where they experienced supervision.

This research took place in a large research-intensive university within the context of an elementary education doctoral program.
The doctoral program espouses a focus on preparing teacher educators to work in clinically-based contexts within school-university partnerships.
This program is inherently interdisciplinary, as is the nature of elementary education.
At the time of this study, there were 14 students in the elementary doctoral program.
Two of the authors were the first two international students in the program.

Data Collection
In this study, the authors used several methods to collect their data, which included autobiographical narratives, audio recordings of meetings, written platforms of supervision, artifacts (e.g. assignments, journals, notes, PowerPoint files) from the supervision class, and final written reflections.
Finally, each of the authors wrote a final journal entry reviewing their time together.
They collaboratively wrote several questions that they would answer as part of this journal.
The questions included:
What did I learn about myself as a teacher educator/supervisor/international doctoral student/faculty member through this process?
What did I learn about the other group members through this process?
What are the implications of what I have learned through this experience? and
How did the other group members support my learning/thinking?
They then audio-recorded their discussions about this final analysis.

Data Analysis
The authors engaged in data analysis throughout data collection.
They approached data analysis using principles of grounded theory and the constant comparative method.
This aligned with recommendations for co/autoethnographic self-study (Coia & Taylor, 2010).
They also adhered to the co/autoethnographic mode of being ‘collaborative, reflective, and participatory’ (Taylor & Coia, 2009, p. 177).

After engaging in ongoing analysis, they identified several themes related to their conceptions of supervision and the influence of their contexts.
These themes included unearthing connections across contexts and developing a new vision of supervision.

Discussion and Implications
The authors came to this co/autoethnography as historical beings, influenced by their past experiences.
These experiences guide how they view the world and, specifically in this case, supervision.
Through their experience writing narratives, sharing journals, and engaging in conversations, they were able to unearth their past experiences and make the tacit explicit (Loughran, 2006).
They made their narratives explicit not only to themselves, but also to each other.
Their past narratives became lenses to analyze how they were currently viewing supervision.
Their realization then pushed them to reflect on developing a new vision of supervision informed by both their past experiences and their current knowledge and experiences.
This became a process not just of looking back but looking to the present and to the future.
Their co-autoethnography became a cyclical process of reflection informing their philosophy and practice of supervision.

Using a Cultural Lens to Analyze Beliefs about Supervision
Using the autoethnographic lens helped the authors amplify the role of culture and context within their experiences.
In addition, this analysis helped them to uncover the often invisible nature of culture and its influence on how we live our lives (Gay, 2002).
This finding has implications for bringing an explicit connection to culture within conversations about supervision as well as teacher education in general.
We may spend a great deal of time discussing how to support teachers in becoming culturally responsive (Gay, 2002; Ladson-Billings, 2009) without necessarily considering how culture influences the practice of teacher educators.
The authors believe that after clarifying beliefs, we must see how they relate to culture and then see how these cultural values may align or misalign with the teachers we are teaching.

Using Self-Study to Build Connections and Relationships
This study also points to how collaborative research through self-study and through co/ autoethnography specifically can become a powerful tool to build relationships between faculty and doctoral students. This study also demonstrates the unique community that can be built with international doctoral students.
Due to the dialogic nature of this research, the authors began to engage in conversations to develop cultural understanding.
By sharing stories, the authors were able to build relationships based not on assumptions, but on an informed understanding of each other’s experiences.
This research has implications beyond its own contexts, as co/autoethnography shows the potential for those engaging in supervision to look more closely at the origins of beliefs and practices that may influence supervisory engagement and decision making.

Berry, A., & Crowe, A. R. (2010). Many miles and many emails: Using electronic technologies in selfstudy to think about, refine and reframe practice. In D. L. Tidwell, M. L. Heston, & L. M. Fitzgerald (Eds.), Research methods for the self-study of practice (pp. 83–98). New York, NY: Springer
Butler, B., & Diacopoulos, M. M. (2016). Re/learning student teaching supervision: A co/autoethnographic self-study. Studying Teacher Education, 12(2), 117–134
Coia, L., & Taylor, M. (2010). Co/autoethnography: Exploring our teaching selves collaboratively. In D. L. Tidwell, M. L. Heston, & L. M. Fitzgerald (Eds.), Research methods for the self-study of practice (pp. 3–16). New York: Springer
Gay, G. (2002). Preparing for culturally responsive teaching. Journal for Teacher Education, 53(2), 106–116.
Ladson-Billings, G. (2009). The dreamkeepers: Successful teachers of African American children. San Francisco, CA: Josey-Bass.
Loughran, J. (2006). Developing a pedagogy of teacher education: Understanding teaching and learning about teaching. London: Routledge.
Taylor, M., & Coia, L. (2009). Co/autoethnography: Investigating teachers in relation. In C. A. Lassonde, S. Galman, & C. Kosnik (Eds.), Self-study research methodologies for teacher educators (pp. 169–186). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense 

Updated: Aug. 05, 2020