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Narratives of Inclusive Teaching

Stories of <i>Becoming</i> in the Field

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Srikala Naraian and Sarah L. Schlessinger

Teachers are increasingly challenged by dilemmas of practice as they negotiate their commitments to equity for students from historically marginalized communities, including students with disabilities, against the demands of their school settings. This book seeks to understand the ways in which teachers’ engagements with their schooling contexts evoke varied forms of inclusive practice. It narrates the experiences of seven novice teachers who entered the field deeply committed to inclusive practice. It documents their conflicts, joys and struggles within the collectivities in which they were embedded. In doing thus, the book discloses the many unpredictable trajectories of practice that encompass the complex work of teaching for inclusion.

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Chapter Seven Absurdities and Contradictions: Teaching against Oneself with Rena Matsushita

Extract

Chapter 7

Absurdities and Contradictions: Teaching against Oneself

With Rena Matsushita

“And so showing her how it could actually be fun to teach and not have to be militaristic (if that’s even a word), helped her kind of see what I’m trying to say. But I don’t know if that’s helpful. She’s really just like into teaching her way and it’s really hard because I’m the complete opposite of her.”

Like all the other teachers whose stories we have tried to share in this book, Rena’s experiences as a first-year teacher were embedded within relationships with educators and administrators who were directly implicated in the learning successes she sought for her students. We were able to identify a central phenomenon within Rena’s experience that we have labeled “Teaching against oneself.” To explain this, we draw on the idea of orientations as making bodies and objects matter. Ahmed (2010) writes: “Orientations are about how matter surfaces by being directed in one way or another” (p. 24). Being oriented towards another object not only makes it significant for some body, it also gives it form. Rena’s attachment to certain ideas oriented her in a certain way to students that was generally not shared by her co-teachers. Their orientations towards classroom control or to accomplishing curricular objectives produced negative effects on students, on herself and even on themselves. We show how Rena identified these mis-attachments of her co-teachers which seemed to invoke stress rather than...

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