Conversations in a Collaborative Space: From Stories to Concepts to Dimensions

Nov. 10, 2010

Source: Studying Teacher Education, Volume 6, Issue 3, November 2010, pages 303 – 312.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The current article is a re-analysis of three self-studies conducted by three sub-groups of the Active Collaborative Education (ACE) team. ACE is a two-year post-graduate teacher education program in Israel, educating teachers for preschool, K-12, and special education.
These self-studies were originally presented at the Seventh International Conference on Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices in 2008.

These self-studies focused on three related aspects of the teachers educators' work:
learning and improving their practice by studying their team teaching;
learning and improving their practice through helping their students learn about their practice; and learning and improving their collaborative life through understanding the role these studies play in it.

Much of the teaching and learning in the program is based on real-time school experiences of the student teachers that they turn into narrative texts of practice. In a parallel process, the educators' team creates narrative texts of their own practice as a central research methodology for their self-studies.

The authors' work is based on three types of data sources: data naturally generated as part of the program (meeting protocols, emails, reports by program evaluators); anecdotal data (e.g., informal conversations); and focused data generation (e.g., interviews).

Moving from Stories to Concepts

The second stage of analysis surfaced three concepts: territory, the expert as novice, and de-idealization.

The concept of territory emerged in the process of rereading the self-study of co-teaching. The authors claim that territory is not only a question of time sharing but it also concerns our room to maneuver and to expand our professional possibilities. Relinquishing the safe place of our professional territory can be uncomfortable, even threatening, until we create new ways of interacting between us.

Expert as Novice
The second concept, the expert as novice, took center stage in the self-study of team learning. The authors argue that the expertise gives them confidence and a faith in themselves and at the same time admit vulnerability and a willingness to take risks.

The concept of de-idealization initially emerged from a study of the authors' second-year students' narrative research of their practice (Gidron, Barak, & Tuval, 2008). The authors understood that the students have a notion of an ideal teacher that determining their actions and their self-evaluations.
Furthermore, the authors realized that as teacher educators they also have an ideal process that directs their actions. The authors realized that their interactions with one group of students had become a given ideal that colored their expectations for the next group of student teachers.

Moving from Concepts to Dimensions

In the process of reanalyzing the data, the authors realized that these concepts can be viewed as three dimensions which define the collaborative space in which they are working: territory,
knowledge, and values.

The question of territory extends beyond the co-teaching situation to the broader issue of negotiating participation, which is one of the central tensions inherent in collaborative work.

The concept of expert as novice focuses on knowledge and the question of the relationship among knowing, learning, and creating. Expertise is traditionally linked to knowledge and the authors realized that this dimension represents a tension that relates to the meaning of knowledge.

This dimension focuses on the concept of idealization and de-idealization. Ideals are always value-laden and represent our beliefs regarding the “right” way to proceed.

Conversations in a Collaborative Space: Going beyond the story

These conversations helped the authors build a common language for understanding, investigating, and reframing the facets of their practice that includes teaching, researching, and collaboratively running a teacher education program. Focusing on these dimensions and the tensions within them was fruitful in helping the authors articulate the emotional involvement and power relations that function in their collaborative life.

Updated: Feb. 21, 2011