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Paddling Upstream: Stories of Teachers and Their Professional Learning Journeys



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Teachers tell stories. It is how we share, shape and learn from our experiences. As Clandinin and Connelly (1996) described, through the living, telling, and retelling of our stories we can open space for transformation and growth. This study began as a personal inquiry into my story of learning on the professional knowledge landscape (Clandinin & Connelly, 1996). A shift in my role from classroom teacher to professional learning leader surfaced tensions about teacher knowledge and the role of system sponsored professional learning. As I examined the tensions in my own work, I began to think about the stories of my colleagues and started to wonder about which experiences support teachers as they develop a conscious understanding of their personal practical knowledge (Connelly & Clandinin, 1995). This narrative inquiry highlights my journey and the journeys of two other teachers as we live out our storied lives on the professional knowledge landscape. Examining our narratives through the lens of the three narrative commonplaces, time, space and relationship, allowed us to consider how our storylines were shaped by our experiences in public and private spaces. Our stories reveal an ongoing attempt to achieve coherence between our personal storylines and the expectations in out-of-classroom spaces. Tensions are revealed when our stories conflict and compete with the sacred story of knowledge and teacher learning on the professional knowledge landscape (Carr, 1991; Clandinin & Connelly, 1996; Clandinin & Connelly, 2000). The voices of classroom teachers should be part of the larger conversation about professional knowledge and teacher learning. As I retold our stories, I discovered that each of us had constructed our personal practical knowledge, and in the process had become conscious practitioners. I began to envision a new perspective on teacher learning; a space where teachers were invited to construct their own knowledge and theorize their experiences. I began to envision how professional learning could open space for teachers to become scholarly decision makers. (Connelly & Clandinin, 1995)



Professional Learning, Teacher Learning, Professional Knowledge, Teacher Knowledge, Narrative Inquiry, Professional Knowledge Landscape, Conscious Decision Making, Teacher Stories



Master of Education (M.Ed.)


Graduate Studies and Research


Curriculum Studies


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