Who am I: Teachers' stories at a time of curriculum change

Ka Wai Marianne SHAM-KOO

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract

The paper introduces a research study which is encapsulated within a broader understanding of knowledge and action, theory and practice as well as policy and research. The inquiry of teacher curriculum decision-making is represented by the introduction of the Target-Oriented Curriculum (TOC) within a context of curriculum change in Hong Kong. The research question is framed by the problem emerging from a new challenge resulting from a curriculum change. The implementation of the TOC may be perceived as a platform for ongoing critique and reconstruction of a dynamic mix of curriculum theory, policy, research and practice. A collaborative journey of reflection and empowerment is ongoing in the research study. This collaborative journey which is an Action Research study (Koo, 1999) is navigated by a researcher from a teacher education institute to work with the participants, who are a selection of primary school teachers and principals. The Action Research has four Action Steps which have separate main activities and strategies. The initial action steps established a platform for ongoing thinking and reconstructive action. Action Step One was collaborative and a generating phase. The overarching theme was to “think about the context of my own curriculum practice”. It linked the conceptual framework with the initial and ongoing conversations. It was the beginning for the researcher of keeping detailed records of the narratives, conversations as well as her reflections as a researcher. All of the researcher’s strategies are linked with ethical considerations and trustworthiness. Action Step Two was a continuing process of engaging the research participants in a critical community for ongoing critique and improvement in curriculum practice. It comprised three individual semi-focused interviews which were spread out over three to five months. The individual in-depth interviews were different from the sharing meetings of Action Steps 1, 3 and 4 in which teachers told personal lifestories and reflected on their personal and professional lives within the notion of teacher curriculum decision-making. During the first interview (which was individual and critically reflective), the narratives elicited by each participant represented an individual voice with its own tone and message. During the second interview (which was individual and critically reflective with an emphasis on professional learning and empowerment), the narratives elicited by each participant were ongoing reflections of their curriculum work which drew particular attention to teacher curriculum decision-making. During the third interview, it was important for the participants to see their critical reflections on curriculum work generate positive ideas for reconstruction of teacher curriculum decision-making. Independent and creative ideas from each participant were encouraged. The participants were informed that they would not be left abandoned in the forthcoming reconstructive phase. Teachers’ stories are the lived experiences of research participants. These stories are the constructs of teachers’ personal lives intertwined by professional lives. They are framed within the school’s view, the principal’s view and Group Sharing. The teachers live through their stories and construct their stories. In the research, they retell their stories in meanings from which the lifeworld perspectives of teacher curriculum decision-making are elicited. The paper continues by focussing upon three teachers’ stories which were elicited from a dynamic mix of narratives and conversations with the researcher in the Group Sharing Meeting of Action Step One and three Individual Interviews of Action Step Two. Engaging in the process of retelling stories (i.e. oral lifestories) through narratives and conversations in the research becomes an important part of participants’ ongoing reflections and teacher empowerment. At the end, the paper returns to the question posed in the title – ‘who am I’. An immersion of the researcher’s reflections into the question generates some ideas of (re)creating space and place of teacher curriculum decision-making. This generative intent is to enhance the effectiveness of learning and teaching in diversified learning sites and school settings. The emerging ideas have some implications for teacher and principal professional development at a time of curriculum change in Hong Kong.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2000

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Citation

Koo, M. (2000, April). Who am I: Teachers' stories at a time of curriculum change. Paper presented at the 7th Annual International Conference on Teacher Research: A New Millennium: Teacher Researchers Influencing the Quality of Student Learning, Baton Rouge, LA.