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Reading McEntee et. al (second half) and Campano

jccohen's picture


dshu's picture

Exploring Trust and Learning Together

* I posted earlier in the Fieldwork Seminar blog rather commenting to this group. Sorry!

Mr. Campano explored the "teacher research" and "teaching better". "At the heart of teaching" Chapters 8 through 11 presented 4 teachers' experience and reflection on the reflective practice. All of them want to successfully help students grow up in a postive learning environment.

 Through the conversation between Mr. Campano and Virgil on their way to the classroom, Mr. Campano learned Virgil's admiration for Maya Angelou's "I Rise".  Mr. Campano opened up a dialogue as in Freire's "Pedagogy of the Oppressed". To Virgil, Mr. Campano is not an oppressor. Virgil then sent a note to Mr. Campano asked if his new teacher would trust him. Mr. Campano, a teacher researcher, accepted Virgil offer and started to cultivate Virgil through their own actions and reflections. The end of this narrative (or story) is Virgil not only was not expelled, but became a positive and productive human being. 
The 4 chapters detailed the protocols of creating a reflective learning process. In Chapter 10, Ms. Dowd shared her experience she encounterd to build up a trust with parents through the turning protocol. Although she was sort of frustrated after her first workshop, upon her own reflection, she was able to change the tone (or response) from the 2nd workshop parents. This has reflected the importance of trust betwen teachers and parents.  Chapter 9 presented the protocol of cultivating Peter, a new teacher.  New teacher, coach teacher and facilitator teacher are all students in the sense of learning.   They went through the protocols created by reflection. Chapter 8 presented the experience of building a trust between parents and teachers how to help out their students through their parents. Chapter 11 detailed how the practitioners were growing their own reflective skills through continuous practices and retreats.   I can't wait to apply one of the protocols in my future teaching.   

Sarah's picture

How does one become a great teacher?

Like a few other people, I was excited when I saw we were reading Campano because I had really enjoyed reading his work previously in a previous class.  When I read the article though, I was mixed with feelings of admiration and anxiety; how does he know so much? How is he such a great teacher? Was he always like this?  When I read his reaction to meeting Virgil, "My God, why is this child already so marginalized by the educational system?" I felt guilty because I know that would not have been my first question, I would have been wondering about what happened at his previous schools and concerned about how a new student might impact my class. When he mentioned school partnerships, I did think of some work I had done with other BiCo students at a school in West Philly where we began to talk about the implications of race, which was a really cool experience, but also really problematic at times.  I felt like it wasn’t quite at the level of what he was describing as “education’s best hope”.  Chapter 9, New Territories, in At the Heart of Teaching reminded me that all teachers, especially new teachers, do not start off with as much skill and experience as Campano is writing from currently.  Peter, the teacher, was open to advice, and while he seemed to be a good teacher, he was a little resistant to change or advice sometimes that in the end seemed to make his classroom a better place.  Teachers, even naturally gifted teachers, don’t necessarily start off as amazing, it’s a process of learning over time.  Again though, my issue with this book keeps being what schools have time for these types of teacher feedback? It definitely helps and seems necessary, but other things, like preparing for standardized tests are also deemed necessary, and can get in the way of improving teaching overall.

Riley's picture

I completely agree with the

I completely agree with the point of view of schools probably not having the time to implement structures that allow teachers to give and get feedback on a regular basis. Still, I think a lot of it has to do with personal dedication to your own work as an educator--how much are you willing to do to make positive changes to your work? There's a lot of agency there at the individual level of reflective practice implementation, even though it doesn't seem like there would be: reaching out to other teachers and sharing experiences can be so incredibly valuable. Taking the time to reflect on what happens on any given day can really make a difference. I find conversations about professional development a little exhausting for this reason--if a teacher is truly dedicated to doing the best job he/she can, this teacher would be able to see the clear benefits of reflective practice regardless of whether or not the school encourages teachers to engage in it. 

ellenv's picture

I agree that teachers will be

I agree that teachers will be engaging in this reflective practice whether or not a school explicitly encourages it or not, but I wonder what this means for new teachers. As Sarah mentioned, even naturally talented teachers are bound to struggle when they first begin teaching. What kind of things can schools put in place for these teachers? At what point should some responsibility be placed on the school rather than the teacher? I say that mainly because teachers are expected to be engaging in so many things to be a "good" teacher. If the school is putting pressure on teachers to achieve certain things (i.e. standardized test scores), then what type of support should we expect from them in return?

L13's picture

This is a really great

This is a really great question that I often think about, wondering how practical this type of work is for all teachers. To then think that support for these teachers should come from the school makes even more sense. However, similar to us, as teachers, saying that more support should come from the school who is forcing standardized tests, I would think the school would argue that some support should come from the state because that is also where some of these mandates such as testing are coming from. In the educational system are we always going to be looking for support from someone else? Is that because there is not enough support? Support is always needed but not coming so we continue to look? Will there ever be a perfect teaching moment and environment? 

jcb2013's picture

Campano Reading

Campano says, "teacher about a process of imagining alternatives for students who have been most vulnerable in our schools" (pg. 333).  I felt that this quote summarized his actions in how he responded to Virgil, and the "baggage" that the school brought with him.  Campano explains how he "valu[ed] students' experiences as intellectual resources...also acknowledg[ing] students' fundamental capacities to make rational sense of and theorize their own lives" (333).  His actions as a teacher who respected his student's imput is an example of him "resist[ing] and undo[ing] the damage of certain educational research and policies that dehumanize youth" (337).  Campano gives Virgil a voice in his own education, and subsequent success in taking the time to discuss Virgil's interests, issues with school, etc.  He allows Virgil to play an active role in his future.  I really liked chap. 4 of the Campano reading because he provided practical theory that he himself used in a specific situation, and provided a real life anecdote as an example.

On page 333, he states, "I believe writing became for Virgil one cultural outlet for oppositional impulses and a vehicle to explore profound social and ethical issues."  This statement reminded me of my first praxis experience in my Critical Issues course. I was in 2nd grade classroom in West Philadelphia.  The class had many students with IEPs, various grade levels on various subjects, and an amazing, attentive teacher.  She was very good at recognizing student's strengths and challenges.  One boy in the class always completed his work, but acted out a lot.  After observing, working with, and talking with the student the teacher decided tried giving him a journal.  The purpose of the journal was for when the boy finished his work (always ahead of the rest of his classmates, he was a very smart student) he was supposed to open up his journal and write about whatever he wanted (thoughts that were running through his head, how he felt, what he wanted to do after school, anything he wanted).  The teacher had come to the conclusion that because he was so advanced, and always finishing his work early, he acted out because he had nothing to do, and he was bored.  Providing him with a forum dispense his energy, and giving him a place to focus once he finished his official work gave him a positive outlet where he was free to explore and express himself. This was a first hand experience of mine that helped me to understand the importance of getting to know students on an individual level, while also giving them the opportunity to have an imput on their academic identity. 

rbp13's picture

"Knowledge and Practice"

In the Campano article, he addresses the relationship between "knowledge and practice" and the necessity for the "redistribution of intellectual authority" when conducting teacher research (329). Reading these phrases made me think back to the chapter in At the Heart of Teaching that discusses incoorporating parents into the process of reflecting on student work as a means of improving classroom practice. While the importance of the relationship between parents and teachers has been something that we have discussed in several of the education classes I have taken, I found it helpful that Simon Hole, the author of that chapter, referred to parents as "experts" on the children (69). Prior to reading this chapter, I understood the importance of maintaining a dialogue with parents but I did not fully comprehend how to initiate this dialogue effectively. Hole's suggestion that parents know their students best provided a more concrete idea about how to approach parents respectfully and demonstrate a desire to work as a partner with them in their child's education. Hole also writes, "educational jargon often got in the way of conversations with parents" (70). Too often, it seems that the parent-teacher relationship is strained when parents feel patronized. Through providing examples of tone that inhibits effective communication, Hole depicted the type of reciprocal relationship that is necessary between parents and teachers so that they can educate students.   

JBacchus's picture

Campano & "The Class"

Similar to the story of Said, I readily admit that I am extremely skeptical and suspicious of "academics, researchers, and educators". Even beginning to read this article and story of Said, I was hit with a wave of distrust as the daughter of the head judge of the WTO who lived on the French-Swiss border in 1999. I think my wave of suspicion arose out of a protective barrier that had formed out of previous concerns from classes at Bryn Mawr. For me, Said seemed to not be engaging in criticisms, but rather protectiveness for what he felt was his community and culture. He felt that an academic outsider, who had never perhaps experienced the "real world", was stepping in and tell him how to act. I think that is why it is important for teachers to engage in qualitative research, written about in Campano's section "Knowing About the World Involves Knowing How to Change It". All five of Campano's points stem out of a necessary awareness that teachers must have in their classrooms. Previous posts for Campano speak about understanding of assumptions and being aware of assumptions that a teacher brings and that students already have. For me, the core of teacher research is awareness. As the teacher accepts this awareness, he is more fit to present concerns about the community and to attempt to enact changes that, not as he blindly sees fit, but are instead best for the community.

In 2008 I watched the movie "The Class", a French film where teacher and novelist François Bégaudeau acts as a new teacher in an urban Parisian neighborhood. An important fact is that the original French title of the film meant "Between the Walls". Frequently the teachers gather to discuss how to best control the students and inspire the students, but until the teacher assigns a project of written self-portraits, the teacher is unable to lead the students. Once he not only exposes himself to the self-portraits, but asserts to the students that he sees them and he appreciates them, he is able to lead the the majority of the classroom into success...but the end of the movie is of a violent incidient amongst the teacher and students, resulting in the expulsion of the student. 

sully04's picture

Assumptions, Reflections, and teacher human-ness

I agree with mencabo’s post above- that McEntree and Campano’s readings can be grouped under ideas of ‘assumption’ and experiencing the ‘humanity’ inherent in teaching. I am especially struck by this realization that occurred for me in Chapter 8’s discussion of Action Team meetings that no one is an expert- that we must rely, as teachers, on communication to help wade through the murky waters of our human-ness. In the school context, it is often easy for parents and students to get caught up in the power that a teacher holds. Like we talked about last week, it seems so important to have teacher-parent-student meetings in order to bridge these gaps of power and to open communication. Open communication ensures that everyone is on the same page and that power dynamics are shared.


I am also impressed with the idea of using reflections to help negate assumptions and instances of ‘non-expertness.’ In thinking just about my field placement, I have noticed that having a student in the room (me) allows my teacher to re-think her teaching styles. Not that she was a bad teacher before, but having someone else in the room that (I think) she feels like she needs to impress or teach, allows her the thought-process to question if her methods are always working.


Further, when I think of ‘humanity’ and not necessarily being an ‘expert’ teacher, my mind jumps to ways we can make teaching more fun and less like a job we have to complete everyday. Like in the Action Team school meetings, how can we be aware of our shortcomings? When I think of teachers as human, I think of the teachers at my field placement chatting with their friends in the classroom and socializing during the school day. I definitely think this is one way to allow work to remain relaxed- especially at a school where all students have autism and learning happens in short bursts and the teachers don’t have to be ‘teaching’ 100% of the time. Yet, there are moments in group classrooms where all of the teachers are talking and students get overwhelmed or are bored. The teacher student ration is either 1:1 or 1:2, which allows for a lot of teacher socializing time. Is there a line to be drawn between acknowledging that we are all human and can take the job alittle less seriously and not taking school seriously enough?

lyoo's picture


Chapter 8 also struck me as I was reading At the Heart of Teaching. In class last week I was against the idea of messy teaching because it gave off the impression of an unorganized, flustered teacher who would leave his or her students confused more than anything. A teacher obviously cannot know the answer to every question that comes up in his or her classroom, and it's perfectly fine for a teacher to say "let's find out together" or something along those lines.  I still think the teacher should be fairly grounded in content knowledge, but chapter eight really made me reflect upon the idea of expertness in the context of teaching.

I think a big challenge for teachers is simultaneously having to know certain content, but at the same time having to unlearn that very same knowledge to see how someone who is new to the concept might grasp it.  The process of unlearning or becoming a non-expert for the sake of a lesson plan can be facilitated when there is open communication with the parents of the students.  As chapter eight says, parents are the experts when it comes to their kids and how they learn.  

I was also impressed by the idea of Action Teams where teachers can get together with parents in order to learn or notice certain things about the practice of teaching. Because teaching is a job, I think it could become easy for teachers to get stuck in a routine and simply go through the motions of teaching. That is why I think having the input of parents and having others critique your practices and work is so important for the growth of a teacher. 

mschoyer's picture

            As a future

            As a future teacher, many of the strategies and readings from my Education classes cause me to think about ways in which I could help my future students, or even the students in my field placement. I think, often times, people can be so focused on ways to help the student, that the teacher’s well-being and desire to grow can slip through the cracks. I agree that teachers need to be regarded as human. I don’t think of socializing necessarily, but instead allowing teachers to acknowledge their desire to grow and learn in their career. While the emphasis should obviously be kept on the students, there is also something to be said for encouraging teachers to reflect and challenge themselves in their profession- a profession they presumably chose because they love it or genuinely enjoy it. I feel that while this might not allow teachers to relax, it keeps teachers determined, alert, and won’t burn them out as quickly.

             The McEntee reading challenges me to think about ways to help myself as a teacher. The idea of Reflective Practice is so important for educators, and I appreciate that McEntee and colleagues provide many different methods for teachers to utilize. This reading has shown me ways to not only teach students, but also ways to teach and learn from myself. It also shows me ways I can use my colleagues as valuable tools (and vice versa). “As teachers, we ask questions of ourselves everyday as we prepare our work with our students” (61). But do most teachers actually do this? How many teachers actually focus on reflecting and asking themselves questions? It is very important to do, and I’m glad to see how pronounced this idea is McEntee. While classrooms would traditionally be viewed as places catered to purely student learning, teachers also need to participate in the process.

transitfan's picture

Friere and dialogue against this week's readings

Dialogue was important to Friere and I wish I could have conjured him up in plenary last week when students were troubled by a resolution in part replacing a phrase something like "working through conflicts over our differences" with "engaging in dialogue." (The latter encompases the former.) But in any case, each of the chapters made me think further about dialogue.

I thought it was interesting in chapter 8 that Rhode Island requires schools to have "school improvement teams." I wonder how that works in Providence where the mayor recently fired the school district's entire workforce. I also wonder (and can guess the answer to) the backgrounds of parents who choose to be on a school improvement tream. These dynamics must add complexity to dialogue within a "school improvement team," although I agree that point of not making parents feel inadequate is an important one.

In chapter 9, I was intrigued by the collaborative assessment protocol. I wonder how I could incorporate it in my music course. I think this author is not as good at presenting dialogue in writing; although in chapter 11 she admits that writing may not be her strongest point. In chapter10 we say some unsuccessful dialogue. Friere would agree that gaining trust is essential before trying to start a dialogue-like process. However setting clear goals and expectations as a way to gain trust is not central to Friere. Finally in chapter 11, I really liked the more dialogue-like (maybe?) way of peer-reviewing writing. Through the very specific protocol it seems a writer would be able to avoid feeling "under-attack" for their writing.

In the Campano, I also connected back to Friere. The balancing of theory and practice makes me think of the balancing of reflection and action in Friere's pedagogy.

JBacchus's picture

I really appreciated the

I really appreciated the practicality of your post but did have a few questions. 

As a Bryn Mawr student, could you speak further about why students were troubled at the Haverford plenary?

Second, I am interested by your knowledge on the recent events in Providence. You mention that you "can guess" the answer to the backgrounds of parents who choose to be on a school improvement team. Could you mention what types of parents you think that would be? 

transitfan's picture

good points

At the Haverford Plenary, my sense was people felt that the the word "dialogue" implied a lack of problems, or a lack of practical working through problems. It is possible that a lot of what we call "dialogue" at Haverford is rather superficial or one-sided. Thinking about dialogue in relation to praxis could help people realize how dialogue can go beyond solving problems [which the honor code is mainly for] to having a deeper understanding of them [which is what it could be, and which would also help it solve problems better].

As for the second question, my guess is that parents who would be on a school improvement team would be more likely to have some combination of social, economic, and/or cultural capital that is "higher" than average if rated by ability to thrive in a dominant culture. As I said, that is a guess, but I would have liked to see the school considering different methods to prevent this from being the case, and I would have liked if the reading could have spoken to this point.

hl13's picture

Campano: research and action

I enjoyed reading a bit more of Campano after having read his book in English Language Learners. Like the first time I read it, I found his recognition "that theory and practice occupy separate conceptual realms and [argument] for placing them in a more mutually generative dialectic" compelling and applicable to educational practice, especially tied into the Heart of Teaching (327). Reflective practice is a form of research nestled within the realm of a teacher's practice, and also a form of action based upon what the teacher learns from their personal research. Concerning education, research should always be intimately related to action.

I think this idea balances well the intellectual and the practical, something I look for in education scholarship. Scholarship should draw on emminent thinkers such as Bourdieu, but like the activist in the video Campano mentions, teachers (and researchers) should "challenge[] Bourdieu to make his comments relevant to the community, to the actual people in the room" (328). This space is where I think education theory should emphasize its strengths, being between practicality and intellectualism. Sometimes I find educational readings lacking intellectual heft, but often highly theoretical social science readings equally lack practicality or a grounding in people's lives. I don't think it's an accident that Campano engages in such intense reflective practice and also seems to be an excellent teacher: he seems to be negotiating the space between these well.

As an anecdote, I was also pleasantly surprised to see Campano quote David Graeber, though in hindsight it makes a lot of sense. I read his book: Debt: The First 5,000 Years in a peace, justice, and human rights seminar about radical theories of political economy. This also supports the idea that teaching can learn from social science academia and vice versa. 

Uninhibited's picture


This Campano reading reminds me a lot of Eve Tuck’s desire-based research. It seems that in this article he highlights the way in which desire-based research can/should be conducted in schools. Desire-based research stems from the idea that outside researchers often go into communities in search for “damage” with the belief that telling a story of damage is more likely to cause political and cultural change. In this article, I really liked the way in which Campano described what to me could be desire-based research in the classroom.  He flipped traditional research, which goes from theory to practice, to research that goes from practice to theory by noting that teacher have a place to craft their own research. How is it different for a teacher to conduct research? Does it produce different results? He makes a case for teacher research by describing a variety of paradigms that makes it good research. Out of these the one that stood out the most for me was "teaching research as an ongoing process" because I could relate it to Freire's notion of unfinishdness. Because teachers are always immersed in the classroom and are in a state of constant (re)imagining, it makes sense to say that teacher research seems like an essential part of our education system. Teachers, have the possibility to see, over the long-term, how certain polices or practical changes impact their students.  In many ways, teacher research is valuable because it lacks a timeline that must end on a particular deadline, after which an answer is provided and the research is done. Instead, it relies on constant revision of lived experiences by going beyond reflection to understand what happens in the classroom and why. Could it be improved and if so, how? 


mencabo's picture

Assumptions and their relationship to reflection

After finishing the book and Gerald Campano’s article, I grouped all of their experiences under one theme/idea: the dangers of assumptions and the habit of assuming in teaching.

As we’ve talked about before, teachers aren’t experts on everything, which is why dialogue plays such an important part in practice. Yet this “expert syndrome” “often gets in the way of meaningful dialogue” (69). Chapter 8 shows how the workshop helped demystify the teaching (and grading) process for parents and created a pathway for a more collaborative approach to assisting students/children. I liked how the teachers took the initiative to expose the reality that teaching is collaborative and that parents aren’t “inadequate” (68). 


Chapter 9 shows the gaps in communication between a teacher and his students:

“‘Now I realize that I had not prepared them for this expectation. I am thinking about the importance of using motivational techniques and teaching skills that fall outside the content area’” (83).

“‘Sometimes Mr. Hansen thought we already knew what we needed to know for a new lesson – that’s not true all the time’” (91).

Again, in order to serve the students’ learning needs and interests, teachers need to know what students already know, what they can do (not just in terms of content) and who they are as people.  


In Chapter 10, Dowd shares her trying experience of sharing great ideas, but receiving lukewarm results and reactions:

“The issues being communicated to me – distrust, fear, judgment” (98)

“They came with preconceived notions about the high school and its teachers…Their frame for receiving new information was probably quite small” (99). 


All of these show that if teachers want to improve their practice, they should be careful and be aware of the assumptions that they hold towards a situation, a culture, a student, etc. Reflection becomes the reins that navigate and/or suppress assumptions. This ties in with Campano’s article about the humanistic nature of teaching and teacher research. Virgil’s story highlights the sad reality that many adults tend to assume a student’s future based on the knowledge that they have of his past. This leads me to agree with the idea that “theory is not God;” it cannot account for people’s experiences nor can it determine people’s “fates.”

The only thing a person is really an expert in is his own life. As teachers, we are bound by our own experiences and if we truly want to create a “safe” environment, then we (somehow) need to make room for students’ lives in our controlled school systems. Nevertheless, I think the first step is to prevent our assumptions from determining how we approach and react to a situation.   

Laura H's picture

You make a very good point

You make a very good point about assumptions in the classroom. This goes back to the idea of "getting to know your students" before making assumptions about who they are, where they come from, etc. However, I also wonder how this works in the reverse situation. In other words, what assumptions do students have of their teachers based on prior knowledge, and how can this affect their learning? It is often natural to make assumptions based on previous experiences, and it takes a conscious effort to rid oneself of this habit. It is especially difficult when students have new teachers every year, and sometimes might have bad experiences with those teachers. However, perhaps we should encourage students to be open to new teachers and classroom experiences, and come into class free of assumptions.