UNFOLDING THE UNEXPECTEDNESS OF UNCERTAINTY ARTS RESEARCH AS A TRIPTYCH INSTALLATION: A CONVERSATION OF PROCESSES, PRACTICES, PRODUCTS by ANITA ELIZABETH SINNER M.Ed., University of Victoria, 2002 B.A., University of British Columbia, 1989 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Curriculum Studies) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) February 2008 © Anita Sinner, 2008 ABSTRACT This conversation is an invitation to a research and artistic experience engaging in teaching and learning with sensitivity and consideration, and in the course of doing, revealing insights about the transformative processes of becoming-teacher in art education. Invoking the architecture of the contemporary triptych, this installation involves structural frames of arts research processes, practices and products, and iconographic frames of becoming-teacher as unfolding, unexpectedness and uncertainty. I explore how arts research opens possibilities through the act and art of sharing stories and visuals in a triptych which may be read sequentially, or out of order, as a relational experience, entering at any point across and/or within each panel. In doing arts research, I question: What insights are generated through the arts in a case study concerning the lived and learning experiences of women becoming-teachers? How does arts research inform research processes, practices and products? How do I theorize arts research as customary methodological ecotones? Based on this study, a number of key issues are illuminated concerning teacher education. The reconceptualization of teacher education in terms of health and well-being is critical. Emphasis on geographies of self and the evolution of situated knowledges as a means to negotiate becoming-teacher, along with notions of teacher as researcher and collaborative leadership in teacher education, provide a basis for active reform in teacher education. An emotional journey, complex and complicated, rich in artful expressions, this conversation moves between theoretical and methodological considerations and culminates in a series of realizations about becoming-teacher and arts research, honouring the knowledge creation of research partners, and my discoveries and realizations as an arts researcher, to make this expression of arts research an opportunity to share alternate perspectives within teaching culture. ii TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT ..................................................................................................................................................................ii TABLE OF CONTENTS ............................................................................................................................................ iii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS...........................................................................................................................................v ARTS RESEARCH AS A TRIPTYCH INSTALLATION .....................................................................................1 I UNFOLDING: RESEARCH PROCESSES.........................................................................................................2 Unfolding the Unexpectedness of Uncertainty..............................................................................................................3 THE ARTS PARADIGM: EXPRESSIVE RESEARCH EMERGING IN THE ACADEMY............................................................8 BECOMING IN THE ARTS...........................................................................................................................................12 THE POLITICS OF INQUIRY AND RESEARCH...............................................................................................................14 THE ART VERSUS ART DEBATE ................................................................................................................................21 ON AESTHETICS AND WORKS OF ART .......................................................................................................................27 THE POTENTIAL OF SOCIAL AND CULTURAL GENTRIFICATION THROUGH THE ARTS .................................................33 RUMINATING ON THE ARTS PARADIGM ....................................................................................................................36 Doing Arts Research....................................................................................................................................................39 PRELUDE TO RESEARCH...........................................................................................................................................40 AN INVITATION TO SHARE .......................................................................................................................................41 CRITICAL MOMENTS ................................................................................................................................................46 BECOMING TEACHERS .............................................................................................................................................50 SHIFTING UNDERSTANDINGS OF BECOMING.............................................................................................................52 RUMINATING ON RESEARCH PARTNERSHIPS ............................................................................................................54 II UNEXPECTEDNESS: RESEARCH PRACTICES ........................................................................................57 Narratives of Becoming...............................................................................................................................................58 RUTH’S STORY: THE BRIDGE I HAVE TO WALK OVER ..............................................................................................60 I’m going to build a bridge............................................................................................................................61 If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.................................................................................................................66 Walking over the bridge................................................................................................................................68 I am the paintbrush........................................................................................................................................77 The long practicum went really well .............................................................................................................79 There’s a new bridge to cross........................................................................................................................84 ANN’S STORY: I GREW UP ON LAND ON THE NECHAKO RIVER ................................................................................90 It runs in my blood ........................................................................................................................................91 I just felt like I was going to a residential school or something ....................................................................98 I’ve always been an activist-type person.....................................................................................................103 I found myself in a place I visited often......................................................................................................106 I just swallow hard ......................................................................................................................................109 I want to try new things and experiment .....................................................................................................112 I had to be a root of care to the tree of unhappiness that lived in the classroom.........................................114 I hope to open their eyes .............................................................................................................................117 NATHALIE’S STORY: A GAME OF DRAMATIC HATS................................................................................................119 I have no real expectations of this program.................................................................................................120 She wants to be the ‘cool teacher’...............................................................................................................123 I was so invisible.........................................................................................................................................126 I felt like I was overreacting a little bit .......................................................................................................132 I have to be a good role model ....................................................................................................................136 It feels good so far.......................................................................................................................................140 iii A game of dramatic hats..............................................................................................................................141 My challenge was to focus on the positive..................................................................................................146 Becoming a good teacher ............................................................................................................................151 III UNCERTAINTY: RESEARCH PRODUCTS .............................................................................................155 Interpreting Narratives of Becoming.........................................................................................................................156 AN ENCOUNTER WITH GEOPHILOSOPHY.................................................................................................................157 CREATIVE NON-FICTION, BILDUNGSROMAN, AND CONTEMPORARY FEMINIST ERZIEHUNGSROMAN .........................158 LIMINALITY, ARTOGRAPHY AND SLASH NARRATIVES ............................................................................................163 SHIFTING BETWEEN APPRENTICESHIP AND INQUIRY IN TEACHER EDUCATION........................................................170 INTERPRETING STORIES OF BECOMING...................................................................................................................176 CONGRUENCY: RUTH’S EXPERIENCE AS A GRAND NARRATIVE OF BECOMING.......................................................178 BORDERLANDS: ANN’S EXPERIENCE AS AN IN-BETWEEN NARRATIVE OF BECOMING ............................................186 RESISTANCE: NATHALIE’S EXPERIENCE AS A COUNTER NARRATIVE OF BECOMING ..............................................196 RUMINATING ON NARRATIVES OF BECOMING ........................................................................................................208 Interpreting Artful Expressions of Becoming............................................................................................................211 BILDRAUM AND ARTFUL INQUIRY..........................................................................................................................212 VISUAL ART PRACTICE AS RESEARCH METHODOLOGY...........................................................................................216 ANAMORPHIC INTERPRETATIONS AND FEMINIST PRISMATICS ................................................................................219 RESEARCH PARTNERS AND CURRICULAR EXPERIENCES .........................................................................................223 VISUALS OF BECOMING .........................................................................................................................................224 EMBEDDEDNESS: RUTH’S ARTFUL EXPRESSIONS AS CONNECTIVITY IN BECOMING ...............................................227 MEDIATION: ANN’S ARTFUL EXPRESSIONS AS TRANSITIVITY IN BECOMING..........................................................239 A CRITICAL GAZE: NATHALIE’S ARTFUL EXPRESSIONS AS MATERIALITY IN BECOMING ........................................251 RUMINATING ON ARTFUL EXPRESSIONS OF BECOMING ..........................................................................................262 Conversational Considerations ..................................................................................................................................264 ARTS RESEARCH AS A TRIPTYCH INSTALLATION....................................................................................................265 RELATIONAL RESEARCHING ..................................................................................................................................267 ANGULATING FINDINGS.........................................................................................................................................269 ARTS RESEARCH AND BECOMING-TEACHER...........................................................................................................271 EDUCATIONAL SIGNIFICANCE ................................................................................................................................274 Teaching as a ‘listening culture’ .................................................................................................................275 Geographies of self in teaching culture.......................................................................................................278 Changing delivery practices in teacher education .......................................................................................280 CONVERSATIONAL CONSIDERATIONS ....................................................................................................................283 A TRIPTYCH INSTALLATION AS ARTS RESEARCH..................................................................................287 REFERENCES..........................................................................................................................................................288 APPENDICES...........................................................................................................................................................302 APPENDIX 1: ARTFUL EXPRESSIONS OF BECOMING ..............................................................................303 Artful Expressions of Becoming .................................................................................................................304 Ruth’s artful expressions: I’m feeling so creative ......................................................................................306 Ann’s artful expressions: I kept my reflections honest ..............................................................................329 Nathalie’s artful expressions: Like a fly stuck under a sheet of wallpaper ................................................353 APPENDIX 2: DEMOGRAPHIC PROFILES OF RESEARCH PARTNERS ...................................................369 APPENDIX 3: BEHAVIOURAL RESEARCH ETHICS BOARD CERTIFICATE OF APPROVAL................370 iv v ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS K In recognition, and with gratitude, I wish to thank J Michael Yeager, my life partner and best friend Drs. Penney Clark, Linda Farr-Darling, Kit Grauer and Carl Leggo, dedicated mentors and committee members Dr. Rita Irwin, for her inspiration and advice Drs. Annette Gough and Noel Gough, with appreciation for the conversations we continue to share And I am especially grateful to Ruth, Ann and Nathalie, may your journeys be rich ARTS RESEARCH AS A TRIPTYCH INSTALLATION UNFOLDING UNEXPECTEDNESS UNCERTAINTY RESEARCH PROCESSES RESEARCH PRACTICES RESEARCH PRODUCTS 1 I UNFOLDING: RESEARCH PROCESSES Ruth 2 Unfolding the Unexpectedness of Uncertainty D Ann 3 This conversation is an invitation to enter arts research as a triptych installation, a research and artistic experience engaging in teaching and learning with sensitivity and consideration, and in the course of doing, revealing insights about the transformative processes of becoming-teacher in art education. Invoking the architecture of the contemporary triptych, harkening in part to the historical purpose of triptychs to teach about social and cultural activities, this installation involves structural frames of research processes, practices and products, and iconographic frames of becoming-teacher as unfolding, unexpectedness and uncertainty. I explore how arts research opens possibilities in a triptych which may be read sequentially, or out of order, entering any point across and/or within each panel as a relational experience of doing arts research. In this case, the central panel represents the act and art of sharing stories of becoming-teachers in the form of creative non-fiction, flanked by accompanying panels of equal importance, balancing doing, interpreting and rendering arts research within the lived and learning experiences of becoming-teachers as a means of communicating understandings. An emotional journey, complex and complicated, rich in stories and artful expressions, this conversation moves between theoretical and methodological considerations and culminates in a series of realizations about becoming-teacher and arts research, honouring the knowledge creation of research partners, and my discoveries and realizations as an arts researcher, to make this expression of arts research an opportunity to share alternate perspectives within teaching culture. Unfolding the Unexpectedness of Uncertainty is a conversation about dwelling in the arts paradigm, lingering in a myriad of relational dialogical enclaves as I resolve a journey of inquiry, only to begin again. Migrating within artful expressions and joining with venerated voices in text, my questioning, answering, extending and deliberating in responsiveness, to inform and include in a communicative quest, becomes an exposition of research possibilities, of Bildung, 4 the formation of understandings created in the complexity and array of processes the arts bring to the study of education. The self-consciousness of Bildung attends to the aesthetics of lived experiences, to contemplating self in relation to social and cultural practices. It is within this “critical ferment” of “living memory” that I enter into a discussion of theory, methodologies and methods, and the doing of processes, practices and products involving the arts (Prange, 2004, p. 508). The elasticity of Bildung, already applied to a host of educational situations in creative ways, sustains the original intent in the German tradition of education as “a specific state of mind” in pursuit of an ideal of excellence, of accomplishment (Prange, 2004, p. 501). Pinar (2006) situates the concept of Bildung in curriculum studies, and by extension, this understanding lends itself to arts research as a form of “creative self-activity” through “communication with others” (pp. 3, 8). Bildung involves formations within the culture of education that explore what constitutes and refines knowing. Contemporary Bildung is interpreted as an in-between “temporary exile,” where, in the Shklovsky tradition, “estrangement from what is familiar and everyday” helps generate dialogue around diverse standpoints that prevail in the arts paradigm (Pinar, 2006, p.10). The interplay of educational engagement in Bildung provides a mode of thought through which I have come to learn I need to write against, that in constructing critical questions about the arts within existing dialogues, I am also extending the debate into doing as an aesthetic experience, manifest in the art of writing, visualizing and reflecting. Engaging in dialogue with scholars established in the arts research paradigm, along with interdisciplinary perspectives from philosophy, geography, cultural studies, art history and more, I begin with an overview of how I perceive the current situation of arts research. From this overview, I move into interior deliberations and weigh recurring issues that hold my attention, 5 not with the intention to resolve with a definitive answer but to open up possibilities. I invoke Benjamin’s (1968) mosaic technique of writing consisting largely of quotations, and in this conceptual flânerie, my deliberations form an intertext, setting the stage for three critical plateau- rhizomatic movements flowing within and across this conversation, movements in concert with educational scholars St. Pierre (2004), Gough (2006b; 2004), Gregoriou (2004) and Semetsky (2006), among others, who are actively seeking to infuse education with alternate understandings. Firstly, my research questions emerge within this triptych installation as ongoing deliberations: In doing arts research, what insights are generated in a case study concerning the lived and learning experiences of women becoming-teachers? How does arts research inform research processes, practices and products? And, how do I theorize arts research as customary methodological ecotones? By foregrounding how and why I do arts inquiry in particular ways, I bring transparency to my position and situate my works in relation to past projects, providing the framework for rigorous engagement. Secondly, by threading deliberations and descriptions of my experiences throughout, I provide insights to my patterns of thought, to creating concepts, an aspect of inquiry in the arts paradigm most often described as embodiment or corporeality, and an essential element in connecting arts research to a broader discourse of academic works. Patterns of thought in relation to research that emerge from inquiry reveal thinking as continuous movement, a Deleuzian perspective that links thinking to acting, and it is with a spatial lens that the following conversation of inquiry through the arts unfolds. Because Deleuzian methods may be applied with latitude and longitude, I pull selectively and only when appropriate from allusive writings within Deleuze’s collective works in ways that best enlarge this conversation of arts research. 6 My understandings of Deleuze resonates with the metaphor of “a set of split rings” in which any one ring will fit into another. Thirdly, in-between text I layer visual expressions to draw attention to both living and learning experiences seen and unseen, on the surface and beneath, or as in the Deleuzian construct, this study is rendered as topographical plateaus of arts research processes, practices and products connected by subterranean rhizomes of artful moments rendered in narratives and visual expressions. Coming to know is a doubling of geographies of self as internal and external landscapes occurring simultaneously within research, a symbiotic interacting of the physical, spiritual and intellectual self with data, information, research partners and sources, in meaning- making during the construction of knowledge. Tracing concept creation in narrative and visual imprints is an aspect of inquiry that is often left unacknowledged when bringing together multiple perspectives in an effort to generate more holistic understandings in research. Through the arts paradigm, I reveal this inner landscape as a dimension of inquiry that blurs artful expressions with mindful formations, by creating concepts that “speak the event” as acts “of thought” (Deleuze, 1994, p. 21). As the first panel in this triptych installation, unfolding research processes through Benjamin’s mosaic experimentation, and Deleuze’s philosophy of experimentation, the premise of creating concepts serves as a way into my conversation of arts research. As Deleuze (1994) states, concepts are the “centers of vibrations, each in itself and every one in relation to all the others” (p. 23). Creating concepts is infinite, always in continual movement within other concepts, but also among objects and within the body, in the person, never whole, always fragmented, connecting along divergent lines, overlapping in “innumerable planes, each with a variable curve” (Deleuze, 1994, p. 76). Created in “bursts” and branching off continually, concepts “link up with each other, support one another” and “articulate their respective 7 problems” to generate understandings (Deleuze, 1994, pp. 76, 18). Deleuze suggests, it is in criticism concepts are formed as assemblages that facilitate new ways of thinking. This conversation becomes an ‘archipelago’ of the contours of an evolving arts paradigm, opening up issues of art-like and Art, aesthetics and works of art, and the potential of social and cultural gentrification through the arts (Deleuze, 1994). Moving from a general discussion to an in-depth exploration of becoming art teachers, multiple threads come together, culminating in shifts, refinements and shifts again, as movement in understandings and essences become a calling into research that invites continued writing against. The arts paradigm: Expressive research emerging in the academy According to Short (1991), the seminal works of Dewey (2005/1934), Langer (1985/1957), and Phenix (1986/1964) among others, have long infused the field of education with a tradition of the arts. Commonly referred to as arts-based inquiry or arts-based research, such practices have “the distinctive purpose of making intelligible subjective human feeling articulated in the perceptual, aesthetic, and formal qualities of [a] particular phenomena,” which is rendered “visually, tactilely, auditorily, olfactorily, gustatorialy, kinaesthetically, or emotionally” (Short, 1991, pp. 17, 18). Scholars from art therapy and art education created the nucleus of practices that quickly came to include researchers from many subject areas across disciplines. The term ‘arts-based’ now appears in literature of the sciences, social sciences and educational discourses as umbrella terms for inquiry and research involving expressive arts (Barone & Eisner, 1997; Diamond, 1998; Diamond & Mullen, 1999; Huss & Cwikel, 2005; Lazarus & Rosslyn, 2003; McNiff, 1998; Scott, 2006). In education, such inquiry is encompassed in an emerging paradigm that “aims to bridge perceived disconnects between quantitative and qualitative traditions of educational research” by challenging “underlying 8 assumptions held by many that the arts do not constitute rigorous areas of inquiry” (Sullivan, 2005, p. 59). Within the arts paradigm there are several core methodological ‘dispositions’ (Gough, 2003) around which individual practitioners and communities of practice are generally clustered: a/r/tography (Irwin & de Cosson, 2004); arts-based educational research (Barone & Eisner, 1997); arts-informed research (Cole & Knowles, 2001a); image-based research (Mitchell & Weber, 1998; Prosser, 1998); and visual art practice (Sullivan, 2005). The title ‘arts-based’ houses many educators, but as methodologies are becoming more precisely shaped, the arts- based education researcher identity may be viewed as a specialization along with visual practice, image-based, arts-informed or a/r/tography, making arts research a collective reference for the scope of methodologies within this evolving paradigm. Each methodological approach reflects particular perspectives on the arts concerning what is researched (ontological), how knowledge is constructed (epistemological) and why philosophical and ethical considerations (axiological) are made in, with and through artful expression. Methodologies in the arts paradigm reveal a multitude of pioneering methods, or ways of ‘proceeding in’ (Gough, 2003). With traces of evermore methodologies and innovative methods of inquiry emerging from arts discourses, inspired by the breadth and depth of expressive genres that continue to expand understandings and possibilities for creativity, this is a dynamic, unstable juncture in the academy, but I believe positively so. As a practice-based approach, arts inquiry often involves “alternate approaches derived organically” (Tyler, 2006, p. 495). Tyler’s discussion of research models in the field of human resource development affirms aspects of arts research are indeed transdisciplinary. Practices “mediated by contexts,” where the “emergent nature” of the approaches “implies that these designs will only be partial at the outset of the research,” continue to evolve in differing ways 9 and in different times as research unfolds (Tyler, 2006, p. 498). Tyler (2006) poignantly describes what I believe to be the future for arts methodologies and methods, and that is a move to a spirit of innovation which places imaginative, emotional and artistic processes at the centre of highly, if not entirely, customizable and responsive methodological and method “ecotones,” where individualized approaches are honed just-in-time in relation to the requirements of a given study (p. 500). By mapping convergences between expressive art, research and the educational landscape, arts inquiry further challenges claims of certainty by demonstrating knowledge is individual, contextual, contingent and always in process. Arts researchers are already living in ecotones, a habitat of creative experimentation, as described by Leggo: This is a place of tension (from oikos or habitation, and tonos or tension), where two habitats meet and overlap, where they extend into one another and create a place of richness and fruitfulness that is only possible because of the overlapping, a space of productive tension where life can be more complex and intense than in either of the distinct habitats. (C. Leggo, personal communication, April 28, 2007) I speculate the vestiges of movements toward ecotones in the academy are veiled within contentious debates around how the arts function in research. This makes the arts a catalyst to change. The core challenges within arts research may also signal more global and conceptual shifts in definitions of research, and how fundamental understandings of what is research may be revised. In part, the arts paradigm is a building block, bringing forth and contributing to new positions within multiple discursive communities. Arts inquiry explores knowing through expressive forms, and each methodological disposition employs a host of arts genres to inquire, interpret, research and disseminate understandings. Genres of arts inquiry are generally formed around four pillars of expression: literary, visual, performative and virtual. Within each genre there are a host of artful methods applied to pursue research questions. Literary arts methods include fiction, creative non-fiction, 10 poetry, plays and autoethnography; in the visual realm, painting, drawing, photography, collage, fibre and sculpture are among methods; performative methods range from drama, theatre, music and dance to rituals and more. The virtual realm of arts inquiry is taking shape around multimedia performance, with blogs, zines, installation art and online communities of practice emerging across learning landscapes. As modes of artistic production expand, artful participation generates perspectives that are increasingly relational and interdisciplinary, informing research and art making in new ways (Irwin, 2003). As Piantanida, McMahon & Garman (2003) state, arts-based inquiry attracts “individuals with diverse talents and interests” who are “engendering rich and multifocal conversations not only about specific examples of arts- based research but also about the broader meanings of this approach to educational inquiry” (p. 182). Arts research spans a continuum of scholarship ranging from practices aligned with social science themes to research strategies more qualitatively and artistically radical. Researchers drawing upon features of social science research traditions do so in varying degrees for data analysis, reflection and dissemination. Sullivan (2005) argues that if arts researchers continue to parallel research with more traditional theories, the arts will remain limited and “locked within the constraints of the social sciences rather than within art practice itself,” making arts inquiry ornamental rather than deconstructive (p. 61). Some researchers are calling for an independent form of arts inquiry in which art practice is central to informing scholarship (Cole & Knowles, 2001a). Finley (2003) suggests, “to avoid comparison with scientific inquiry or evaluation by the standards of science, arts-based researchers must undergo a radical break from science as a standpoint for understanding” (p. 289). More radical forms of arts inquiry promote an experimental approach of aesthetic autonomy and/or “intellectual pluralism” that is “neither 11 subjective nor objective,” but neutral and resistant to epistemological demands of the academy (Peters, 2003, pp. 8, 10; Clough, 2000). As an alternate way of seeing, sensing, and knowing in teaching and learning, I believe arts inquiry creates a space to muse on aesthetics, consider ambiguity, and engage in the tensions evoked by artful expressions in research. As the debate continues about the merits of arts inquiry as academic practice, a number of key issues and challenges permeate within the academy concerning scholarship, quality and responsibility. In this conversation of arts inquiry, I explore how these issues influence my ongoing engagement and practice, as well as what it means to be an arts researcher, the importance of positioning self and situating works within fluid parameters of an emerging paradigm, and how the intricate metamorphosis of the arts currently underway in the academy is reshaping research processes, practices and products. Becoming in the arts My initiation to doing research was formulated within the techniques of social science research practices, and to this day, I still hold the mark of rigidness that was required. Even now, during an interview, for example, the protocols for asking questions in a prescribed order to avoid bias and contamination of results influences my thinking and shapes how I come to moments of exchange (Babbie, 1986). However, the constraints of such traditions were unnatural for me and I yearned for spaces of creativity, for a balance between the logic of structure and the genesis of imagination. Coming to traditions of qualitative inquiry provided a needed shift, and I felt a sense of comfort in practicing case study, grounded theory, phenomenology and more, with the conscientiousness of previous research experiences (Creswell, 1998). 12 Looking back, it is not surprising I am now drawn to the arts paradigm, a forum which enables me to work in ways previously not possible within the academy. Building on foundations of my research past, I continue to shape and reshape my understandings as I pursue spaces in the academy that facilitate imagination within the scope of doing research. Having employed several arts methodologies at different times in my works, with varying degrees of specialization, it is fitting to collectively place my works in a more broadly conceived arts paradigm than a specific methodological approach. At the same time, I remain cognisant of the discipline instilled by past schools of thought where I learned through stringent rules about benchmarks of practice, how to push the boundaries and even knowingly break the rules. As an arts researcher, I feel I am best situated as a generalist, a hybridist, a nomadic outsider in the Deleuzian tradition, always in-between, an “intermezzo,” drawing upon multiple theoretical and methodological approaches to customize processes, practices and products of the arts, making plurality the cornerstone of my research (Deleuze & Guattari, 2005, p. 380). Deleuze & Guattari (2005) describe nomads as making “customary paths” that crisscross and meander in “nomadic waves or flows of deterritorialization” which “go from the central layer to the periphery, then from the new centre to the new periphery, falling back to the old centre and launching forth to the new” (p. 380). By borrowing and appropriating potentially incongruent modes of thought and practices as required, my dispositions may at times seem paradoxical, but I embrace the appearance of contradiction as a means to reconcile nomadic intentionality. I seek to share patterns of thought that intersect, overlap, and converge as a means to discover movement beyond the familiar, by disturbing what is already known in structured and defined formats and forums. At the same time, I am mindful of the potential of such hybridity to “decontextualize,” or “distort” meaning through “formalistic reduction” of “a phrase or a word” from the whole “discursive logic of philosophical text” (Porter, 1997, pp. 93-94). Borrowing 13 from Porter (1997), to proceed in the “performativity” of arts research can result in theoretical and methodological tokenism, a “surface form” of “aesthetic features” which can “quickly acquire … foundational significance in relation to text,” as a form of the “discursive power of rhetoric” (pp. 94-95). Rather than relying on such tropes within this conversation, I strive to create an analysis of the architecture of arts research by mapping patterns of thought through the movement of research. The politics of inquiry and research Like many practitioners in the arts, my inclination is to apply the words ‘inquiry’ and ‘research’ interchangeably, regarding inquiry and research as equivalent practices rather than placing either in a subjective or objective shadow, though I do at times slip into the more traditional structures of methodologies closely aligned with a social sciences orientation depending on the research questions and situations. Yet with the continued development of the arts paradigm, I have come to feel an inversion of meaning in the seamless shifting between inquiry and research. Borrowing from Levin’s (1997) discussion of Foucault, I “problematise practices and institutions that have been naturalized,” recognizing the underlying political connotations of inquiry and research remain ingrained in many parts of the academy (p. 448). Despite the progress of the last decades, perceptions persist that researchers conduct research, and practitioners perform inquiry, implying a hierarchical order in which research makes a more significant contribution. For me, artful expressions spiral through both inquiry and research in ways that are perhaps different from previously articulated patterns of movement. With emphasis on ‘and,’ I suggest that inquiry and research are ever-present in forms of expression, making inquiry and research not only interchangeable but concurrent (Irwin, 2003). Drawing on two of my works as examples, I enter the politics of inquiry and research involving the arts, and 14 in troubling these aspects, I introduce a discussion of Deleuze’s ‘order-word,’ as a broad concept exploring the construction of meaning in language. I regard divining INTOXICATION (Sinner, 2004), a video exploring photographic practice and roles as artist, researcher and teacher with a feminist perspective, and Sewing Seams of Stories (Sinner, 2006), an historical account of becoming a teacher constructed through arts- based methods and feminist genealogy, as examples of inquiry and research. As inquiry and research through the arts, each involves theory as practice and practice as theory, producing diverse effects and products in the process. In the case of the former, a few months after the video was published I met a faculty person from across the country, who upon making the connection said, “Oh, the non-article.” In contrast, the text-based article was noted as methodologically experimental, but certainly not a ‘non-article.’ This simple statement suggests an academic subtext is at play, moving beyond resistance to the trend of electronic publication of academic works, to objecting to alternate methodologies and methods of rendering. This was a matter of ‘othering.’ Although many still do not regard inquiry through the arts as research, and it is unlikely consensus will be achieved, comments like this highlight the importance of critically examining sources, practices and positions that continue to shape understandings within the academy. I appreciate alternate methodologies attract advocates and critics, but this comment left me reflecting on the importance of disseminating such work as inquiry and research, and on entrenched locations of research power within the academy. I am reminded of Lynn Raphael Reed, who wrote, “I can feel the gaze of authoritative discourse on my shoulder in disapproval of the venture, and I am reminded to be cautious about revelation” (Reed in Francis & Skelton, 2001, p. 79). Inquiry and research rendered in the video has personal and perhaps social impact, and as a result, in some small way may change some element of practice. By providing a position in the public forum which helps 15 establish methodologies that do not conform to dominant theories or genres, there is an opportunity to reconsider, rethink and redefine how information is understood, and in this way, there is a potential to move toward greater social, political and intellectual consciousness (Slattery, 2003). Awareness of the nature of resistance within the academy for artful expression as inquiry and as research is a prerequisite for all practitioners engaging in the arts. These projects have inspired further inquiry and research through the mediums of photography, video, narrative and more, suggesting the influence of both are evident in my ongoing conversations through the arts. I draw on these examples to serve as foils to articulate the qualities I perceive in inquiry and research through the arts. Both the video-article and text- article affirm Genette’s (1999) observation that “the intense emotion a work expresses may very well call up only indifference or disgust on the part of its receiver” (p. 114). Through works of art, researchers may readily take risks to reveal what is hidden from the academic agenda by using different strategies to communicate ideas, and in dialogue, in speaking, find ways to be heard, to be seen, and to answer back. Despite my efforts to attend to positionality and situatedness in arts inquiry, and foregrounding myself as an arts researcher with feminist perspectives, the conversation between the artworks, audience and myself cannot always be executed in the predictable ways of traditional research because aesthetic pleasure or displeasure evokes a response, a feeling. If inquiry and research are theory and practice, then the question of interchangeablity and concurrency becomes a question of doubling. Inquiry is defined in the New Shorter Oxford Dictionary as an investigation, the putting of a question, asking, interrogating, a query. To inquire is to seek knowledge of a thing by asking to be told, to search and to try to find. Research is defined as a search or investigation undertaken to discover facts, to reach new conclusions by a critical study of a subject through systematic investigation of study materials, 16 sources and more. In research, information is collated and opinions surveyed along with background information relevant to a project. In practice, inquiry is synonymous with self-reflection in education, particularly as a means to build knowledge through critical thinking in relation to teaching practice, yet to characterize inquiry as the realm of self-reflexivity and research as involving the ‘other’ is too simplistic an approach. Babbie (1986) states the “keystone of inquiry is observation,” a social act (p. 10). Through a postmodern lens, the “goal of inquiry, understood rhetorically, is not objective truth, but reasonable belief, the state of being persuaded,” in which research is an act of exploration, description and explanation (Pinar, Reynolds, Slattery & Taubman, 2000, p. 325). Creswell (1998) defines qualitative research as “an inquiry process of understanding based on distinct methodological traditions of inquiry that explore a social or human problem” in which the researcher “builds a complex, holistic picture, analyzes words, reports detailed views of informants, and conducts the study in a natural setting” (p. 15). Contemporary educational research may also be defined in terms of critical, theoretical, practical, action and ethnographic modes, as descriptive, analytical, interpretive or predictive (Pinar et al., 2000). Nespor (2006) characterizes research as the product of “a matrix of relations” where “research proceeds by creating links, relations, ways to see other places, things and times” (pp. 115, 116). For me, arts research is expressiveness interweaving theory and inquiry, where inquiry is a conduit to research and often a starting point. Inquiry may be the exclusive site of practice discussed in relation to theory, although in some cases, theory is absent or simply implied. Inquiry and research overlap, yet by definition research moves differently than inquiry, and in the academy, research can still imply a greater contribution in some realms. To unpack the politics of inquiry and research further, I borrow Gough’s (2006a) interpretation of Deleuze & Guattari’s (2005) “order-words” in an educational context to shift 17 the conversation from defining the terms ‘inquiry’ and ‘research,’ to considering arts inquiry and arts research from a perspective of “how it works” and what each term “does or produces (or prevents)” (p. 5). Order-words are the “relation of every word or every statement to implicit presuppositions, in other words, to speech acts that are, and can only be, accomplished in the statement” (Deleuze & Guattari, 2005, p. 79). In the arts paradigm, traces of historical understandings of inquiry and research persist, with research often viewed as a more static investigation with predetermined ends, a process with deliberate structures, and inquiry as a creative entry to open systems, an organic ongoing process of questioning. Such historical contexts still contribute to how and what is produced, and prevented from being produced artfully. Deleuze & Guattari (2005) describe order-words as commands and acts linked by social obligation, making the “order-word itself the redundancy of the act and the statement (p. 79). In this way, ‘inquiry’ and ‘research’ as order-words transmit what must be thought, where the order is inscribed in the word, making the words ‘inquiry’ and ‘research’ the primary concern, and the related information “only the minimal condition for the transmission of order-words” (Deleuze & Guattari, 2005, p. 79). This suggests that if the same information is rendered as inquiry, it is already understood differently than if the same information is rendered as research. At the same time, order-words are never interlinking, “nor do we see one represent the other, with the second serving as referent … on the contrary … a segment of one always forms a relay with a segment of the other, slips into, introduces itself in the other” (Deleuze & Guattari, 2005, p. 87). In this way, inquiry slips into research and research into inquiry, but neither is secondary, both are enveloping and simultaneous. Since ‘inquiry’ and ‘research’ hold specific social meanings, and the relationships between the words and orders require a specific response, it may be assumed academics perform 18 ‘inquiry’ and ‘research’ as social obligation “to make their discourse function” in a given context (Porter & Porter in Gough, 2006a, p. 5). Borrowing from Russon (1997), I suggest the performance of inquiry and research may be interpreted as reflecting “culturally embedded practices,” rituals that communicate a “sense of self-identity” among members of a community with which there is shared belonging (p. 216). Order-words produce “different effects in different locations” and it is “through a more determined scrutiny of its locatable effects” concerning how order-words operate that inquiry and research in the arts paradigm may be understood differently (Gough, 2006a, p. 13). Reviewing common definitions of inquiry and research and exploring instances of practice in the academy demonstrates how language is used to “bring into being the singularity of an event,” which invests power in words and in associated relational acts, and “determines the subjectivity of the subjects who use it” (Barton, 2003, pp. 235, 237). Employing order-words of inquiry or research then positions self and situates artworks in a broader “politics of domination and repression” (Barton, 2003, p. 238). In terms of day-to-day experiences, order-words shape and politicize events, and by internalizing these social dynamics, “an individual assumes a different identity or takes on multiple identities through the different languages he or she speaks in relation not only to others but to the self as other” (Barton, 2003, p. 240). Because the terms have a certain cachet, the reception and interpretation of ‘inquiry’ and ‘research’ hold implicit understandings. In this conversation, I seek to rethink inquiry and research as cartographic identities on the same plane, to reflect on how these terms as concepts become conceptual personae, a method “to show thought’s territories, its absolute deterritorializations and reterritorializations” (Deleuze & Guattari, 1994, p. 69). Challenging order-words within institutional structures and cultural practices of the academy begins to shift implied hierarchical sequences (Barton, 2003). By deterritorializing and reterritorializing order- 19 words within the arts paradigm, inquiry and research create new linkages that serve to appropriate value in social and political contexts by attending to how the arts function differently (Barton, 2003, p. 223). This moves inquiry and research to a third space, doubling applications and meanings, “in which everything seems to be strangely reversed, since it [inquiry and research] will be given the task of supporting the other” (Deleuze, 1994, p. 141). In my practice, inquiry begins when the boundaries of research are blurred, or traversed, when holistic entry to the world of study generates ambiguity and paradoxes, reinforcing uncertainty. Inquiry is performed as “a complex, dynamic act that constitutes social relations within the immanent sphere of the political,” or to paraphrase Culler, research is inquiry bound, but inquiry is boundless (Culler in Barton, 2003, p. 229). Inquiry and research in the arts are composite order-words of fragmented, partial practices. Borrowing from action research, where action leads to research and research to further action in an ongoing cycle that advances knowing (Jarvis, 1999), inquiry and research in the arts operates like a spiral metaphor, offering a means to discover possibilities through innovative experimentation. In conceiving of inquiry and research as spiral movement, the nuances and reverberations of artworks that emerge within academic pursuits lead me to question if situating works in the political dimensions of inquiry and research, and foregrounding location and movement should always form part of a discussion of works within the arts paradigm. In my examples, I suggest the video as inquiry occurs beyond the confines of text-article as research, but at the same time, both examples are inquiry and research. To deterritorialize the politics of the academy by reterritorializing both concepts of inquiry and research together, different patterns of movement emerge, not controlled by the authoritative discourses and “historically-specific contexts” that continue to emanate “from various loci of power” within the academy (Barton, 2003, p. 252). 20 Although the concept of ‘order-word’ illuminates issues of inquiry and research, I also look back to Eisner’s (1997b) standpoint: When engaging in alternate forms of research there is always a potential for a backlash and that in itself is a “good reason for describing the context in which the results of research are to be presented” (p. 9). Eisner (1997b) acknowledges works of art “can stand alone without an interpretive context when those reading, seeing or hearing it bring that context with them … when they do not … when the terrain is new, we need context,” and as educators, we must serve as “our own toughest critics,” not substituting “novelty and cleverness for substance” (p. 9). Given the ongoing debates in the arts paradigm concerning Art and art-like, as well as aesthetics and works of art, Eisner’s advice to be mindful to self-situate in the arts paradigm and to position how works of art function is well-founded. The art versus Art debate Arts inquiry may involve works that are, as Maxine Greene suggests, “art” rather than “Art” (Greene in Willis, 2002, p. 8). Although there is no longer a single definition, set of standards or consensus of art, the debate between art-like expressive works and fine art has a long rich history, re-emerging within philosophies, art movements, social and political climates and changing public perspectives concerning art over time and place (Korsmeyer, 2004). Traces of this history continue to surface, making art-like and Art a “vexed subject” in the arts paradigm where dualistic approaches from opposing schools of thought seem to be taking shape concerning art processes or Art products (Genette, 1997, p. 150). Processes involve works of art that demonstrate “specific and generic features that set them apart … enabling us to decide that a certain activity is artistic,” and products involve works which conform to the “traditional notion of a system of the fine arts” with deeply held conventions rooted in the institutionalization of art (Genette, 1997, p. 2). Willis (2002) argues that if art making designates an array of art-like 21 works, while Art constitutes great works, then the question becomes a matter of difference, but is the difference one “of degree or one of kind,” because the division tends to distance Art while aligning expressive art as a lesser form, as art in proximity (p. 8). Broader social and cultural shifts also influence these perspectives, as Genette (1997) states, the “decline in the number of amateur concerts and our familiarity with professional performances … have made us less tolerant of certain transpositions and transcriptions” (p. 205). The arts paradigm is a synthesis of many forms of artful expression, including novice engagements, works by practitioners with varied backgrounds and connoisseurs of the arts. It may be said that depending on the situation, arts researchers may occupy each identity in varying degrees, making it inevitable there are moments of disjuncture concerning quality and scope of such works. I believe it would be short-sighted to assume the work of a novice making art cannot demonstrate excellence as Art, or that formal training dictates artists always make works of Art, surely this is not the case. Yet in the arts paradigm, the conversation is caught between blurring artistic and aesthetic values which at times fail to attend to subtlety and distinctiveness inherent in art-like and Artworks. Arts research as transitional spaces recognizes both a/Artists and art-like/Artworks operate at differing levels at different times, so opening up a conversation about quality in arts research is less about the works of art and more about “the function of the event considered as a whole,” or simply, when is art (Genette, 1997, p. 142; 1999). Questioning how expert must one be, and whether it is sufficient expressions be art-like, Piirto, among others, explores the tensions that materialize when novices undertake arts methods. Reflecting on a conference experience, Piirto (2002) observes: To observe heartfelt efforts by researchers with little or no background in the art being demonstrated was sometimes painful, especially to those who worked in, were trained in, knew and loved the art being demonstrated … Some suggested that a notion of levels be attached to the abstracts and proposals. (p. 433) 22 Piirto (2002) states respect for an art medium requires active engagement to achieve mastery of creative expression, and all arts in research must be held to a high standard of aesthetic quality. For Piirto, students wanting to engage in arts-based projects must have at least an undergraduate degree in a specific art domain, or an extensive peer-reviewed history of engagement. Although the qualifications of researchers are never questioned in selecting methodologies and methods, when entering the arts such questions appear to become important, a juxtaposition in which Piirto’s argument for quality and qualification resonates because the arts involve both artistic and aesthetic relation, intention and appreciation, and an overarching emotional response to creative activity. Like many critics of arts research, I have also witnessed works of art where the absence of vigour or the articulation of understandings concerning methodologies and methods has left me wanting. Yet therein is the hint of a formalist assessment of artworks, concerned with structure and composition, while art-like and contemporary art facilitates meaning through expression. This implication suggests “artistic practice degenerates if it addresses itself more to the undifferentiated needs of consumers than to the critical collaborations of experts” (Benjamin, 1999, p. 504). But does qualification in art really assure the quality of art as Piirto asserts? And in turn, does qualification in research dictate good research? Eisner (2002) argues for a balance of practical and principled inquiry and research, for “practice that is not principled has no compass” (p. 42). Conversely, Peters (2003) pushes the boundaries of the debate further by suggesting not only should art speak for itself, but that arts researchers invoke a “non-methodological method,” a practice-based approach with a complete absence of theoretical discourses (pp. 1, 9). Bracketed by Eisner and Peters, Piantanida, McMahon & Garman (2003) state that not attending to the issues of quality and qualification leaves researchers “in a position of vulnerability,” potentially bringing into question the “long- term viability and credibility of aesthetic modes of inquiry” (p. 184). Piantanida et al. (2003) 23 argue for a more philosophical “logic of justification” to ground arts inquiry, reminding that within the Arts, “criteria for judging the merits of artistic productions and performances exist” (p. 187). Slattery (2003) notes “art and education, for some, are not always conscious acts,” encouraging researchers to “resist” having their artworks subjected to traditional forms of judgement and instead, as “boundary breakers,” commit to further experimentation to achieve a new paradigm (pp. 195, 196). Finley (2003) discusses “locating quality criteria within a particular context and community, rather than establishing universal rules for evaluation,” noting that when arts inquiry “exists outside of frameworks of either research and art,” questions of whether the work constitutes art or research become meaningless (pp. 285, 288). At times arts researchers may give the impression of “an eminently quarrelsome tribe” boldly inventing new forms of research in a contentious space (Genette, 1997, p. 11). Perhaps as Baudrillard (2005) suggests, through “obstacles and oppositions” the arts paradigm as a system will “bound ahead” (p. 11). The only standpoint all arts researchers seem to share is there are many ways to engage in practice, not a singular vision. Embracing a position that everyone can be artists and education is the means to facilitate such development, Richmond (2004b) charts the historical shift from art concerned with objects to art concerned with ideas. Making a distinction between traditional fine Art and contemporary art, in which the latter is “more about attitude, a way of working that is improvisational, questioning, ironic, critical, small scale, exploratory, biographical, local, ad hoc, collaborative, individual, process- not skill-based, fragmentary, and ambiguous,” Richmond (2004b) refines the realms of art making in ways that address this ongoing debate (p. 110). Contemporary art may not be “concerned with the visible,” instead contemporary art may be concerned with contradictory concepts and contexts, following no formal structure and taking no required form, where “meaning” and “truth” are derived “from society and forms of representation such as 24 language” (Richmond, 2004b, p. 110). Such artworks often involve new media, “photography, scrapbooks and journals, found objects … accessible techniques … and being reflective of the concerns of theory, is deconstructive and conceptual” (Richmond, 2004b, p. 110). Although contemporary art has broadened understandings of artworks and artists, Richmond (2004b) also cautions contemporary art can be “self-indulgent (no standards), overtly theoretical and elitist since only a few insiders know the hidden codes and banal visuality” (p. 110). By positioning Richmond’s discussion of contemporary art in-between spaces of art-like experimental expressions, and Art as skill-based products concerned with visible beauty in form and style, a viable method of engaging in artful expression emerges. The tensions between art-like (everyday art) and Art (high culture) may be negotiated through a third space of contemporary art practice (mass culture). In this way, arts researchers engaging in art making may position their renderings as a blend of practices, or dominantly art-like, Art or contemporary art expressions. Like many inquiring through the arts, I bring to my practice a degree of specialisation in a specific genre (photography) acquired through ongoing engagement over many years, a practice which has found a public forum in traditional arts venues: juried exhibitions, gallery shows and commercial publications. I venture that these same works may not resonate for everyone as a/Art, though my photographs may well be aesthetically pleasing or displeasing in a receiver’s view. For the most part, I pursue more traditional notions of beauty in my photographic renderings, and seldom undertake strictly contemporary art projects, though at times I may knowingly blend aspects of all three realms, art-like, Art and contemporary practices. I also witness photographs with a set of technical criteria and expectations which may be finer in detail than that of a wider audience. Genette (1999) describes this as “levels of reception,” in which anyone can perceive a work of art, but there are different levels of reception 25 underway, “the fact remains” an artist “takes in more features of the artistic phenomenon in question … thus taking the phenomenon more fully into consideration” (p. 188). In the arts paradigm, I often feel photography is a (if not the) most accessible genre, ubiquitous in methodologies, as Richmond (2004a) judiciously states, it is “the artistic medium of our age” (p. 83). Photography is rather indiscriminately applied as both an art form and a means to document other art genres, without recognition for standards or levels Piirto suggests, but often as a ready- made art expression, and I admit, for me this is at times problematic. I have been, and will likely continue to be, displeased by works which fail to demonstrate basic photographic understandings. Like Piirto and others, I always want excellence in the arts, especially photography, but intuitively, I also know advancing up this slippery slope, far too easily taken in the arts paradigm, is destined to slide me back to the messiness of the quality and qualification debate. So how do I reconcile a myopic view of photography, based on my embodied knowing, in which my degree of expertise will always be more or less than the next, but like most practicing artists in all genres, unlikely to achieve the pinnacle of photographic insight, a definitive voice and vision for all? Along with photography, I explore additional genres such as creative writing, in which I am a novice, and even though I draw upon insights and skills which represent a culmination of various arts interests over a lifetime, I am nevertheless untrained and offer at best a layperson’s expression. Because of the diverse venues in the arts paradigm, and the opportunity to experiment within arts approaches, I may well discover I am more effective as a writer (or other genre) than photographer, regardless of a degree of mastery for the latter. My movements within modes of artful expressions are responsive to research scenarios. Rather than imposing my primary form of expression, I seek to recognize the idiosyncratic nature of doing arts research and the importance of honouring the stories that shape emerging artful expression, making each 26 case unique and customary. Arts research is predicated on the act of undertaking and sharing in Art, contemporary and art-like expression where creative pursuits are a means to help nurture skills of observation, interpretation, self-reflection, insight and more. So the questions resurface once again: How do I proceed as a writer in the arts paradigm given Piirto’s thesis? Do we lessen the value or subvert the quality of mastered art practice by encouraging all levels of participation equally in arts research? As Eisner (1997a) suggests, “expertise does matter” (p. 269). Or are we in danger of pushing too far, of creating an almost nihilistic ‘anything goes’ paradigm? Alternatively, as Richmond (2004b) cautions, does emphasis on aesthetic form tie expression too closely to the Western canon in the postmodern age? And what of the arbitrary nature of quality and qualification in contemporary art? Is the debate of art-like, contemporary and Art more about power politics than quality and qualification? It is conceivable that through the arts paradigm, art-like expressions may shift power from institutionalized Art to a new form of expression, a sort of arts “reduction,” effectively making art “readable, or even attractive and easily accessible” (Genette, 1997, pp. 180, 194). Works of art that do not adhere to traditional forms of quality and qualification may offer a very different effect and different meaning, ultimately relocating artful expression outside of existing institutions of Art. I remain uncertain the art-like/Art debate shall (or should) be definitively resolved, but I am convinced this issue cannot be uncared for if the arts paradigm is to advance, and so I turn to issues of aesthetics and works of art as a means to complexify and continue deliberating. On aesthetics and works of art If questions at the heart of the a/Art debate are unpacked in a broader discussion of aesthetics and works of art, then questions of quality and qualification take another dimension 27 when engaging methodological dispositions in the arts paradigm. Arts methodologies can be interpreted as dominantly focused on artistic and/or aesthetic qualities, as exemplified in two methodologies applied in this project, a/r/tography and visual art practice. A/r/tography is a subjective, postmodern perspective, which Irwin (2003) describes as cultivating an aesthetic way of knowing where “dialectical relationships” include “theory and practice” to actively create knowledge “through sensing, feeling and thinking” (pp. 63, 64). In contrast, visual art practice, a methodology framed by acts of agency and structure, defined by dialogue and discourse, consideration of art materials and properties, and meaning making that is socially understood, is reminiscent of discipline-based art education, a more technical orientation. As Genette (1997) suggests, it is easier to define what is artistic, than what is art, and this may in part contribute to the aesthetic and conceptual impasse between Art, contemporary and art-like expression. Focusing on artistry, Genette (1997) defines “not the arts, but the artistic character of this or that activity or object” to “mobilize a criterion” that is relational, rather than visible (p. 4). A work of art qualifies as an aesthetic object when there is an intentional aesthetic function producing an intentional aesthetic effect from which follow “theoretical consequences” (Genette, 1997, p. 7). Genette (1997) draws a distinction between “aesthetic relations in general,” and aesthetic relation “to works of art in particular” (p. 1). Works of art are occurrence-works involving activities such as music and literature, or object-works, graphic forms like painting and photography. These works are autographic (a unique, authentic work) and/or allographic (a work from which multiple copies may be made). Within all works there are provisional works, where the ébauche, an incomplete state, creates tension, similar to what Irwin (2003) describes as aesthetic unfolding. Irwin (2003) applies the metaphor of underpainting to express how “what is first seen may be hidden, only to emerge years later” in making art and in making curricular decisions in teaching (p. 66). The ébauche is the underdrawing, underpainting, the pretext that 28 “provides evidence of evolution to the trained eye” (Genette, 1997, p. 193). Most arts practitioners crisscross asymmetrically between occurrence and object works, autographic and allographic works, and ébauche and definitive works of art, making the very shift between a source for critiques concerning quality and qualification. In contemplating the benefits to the arts paradigm of a more substantive discourse concerning how works of art function, I extend Genette’s (1997) thesis of modes of existence, that is, when “enlarging the scope of an inquiry … it becomes incumbent upon us to say what kind of human practice it is,” I question if Genette’s methods for engaging works of art provide a formation around which to build such a conversation (p. 2). As Genette (1997) reminds, “competence of the audience, or even the sharpness of their senses,” along with the “fluctuating relation between the intention of the artist and the attention of public,” has an impact on how works are, or are not, understood (pp. 126, 155). For example, I appreciate avant-garde musical composition, but I have no background against which to gauge such works. If the artist- researcher informs me the piece is in process, in the ébauche, I begin to incorporate language and context to understand the composition in new and arguably more informed ways. Returning to my previous examples, my video-article is an autographic work that is also allographic. The video documents process, the ébauche, and as a definitive work of art, the video is a product resulting from ongoing inquiry and research. In contrast, the text-article, an allographic work, does not offer evidence of the pretext, only the definitive research is provided. In arts research, I am equally interested in definitive products as in the detailing of processes and practices, whether the practitioner is invoking new genres, and what considerations were made in light of the genesis of such explorations. Without this information, works of art represented as products are expressions without context, an unacknowledged position, and because “the reception of a work is partial” and all “properties” cannot be absorbed 29 during the event, it sometimes remains unclear to me how I am to receive a work. If an arts researcher is willing to, as Genette (1997) suggests, accept the risk of misunderstanding and rely on my guesswork, then I must concur with Piirto’s thesis, quality and qualification is a safeguard from the novelty of expressions through arts that may remain underdeveloped in conception, presentation and interpretation. But if the artist-researcher foregrounds a work, for example in Genette’s language of aesthetics and works of art, the context shifts perspectives, expectations and judgements from reception of the event as a formal, professional demonstration to the processes, practices and products involving ébauche in research. By positioning self and situating works of art in the arts paradigm, the conversation moves from a perceptual debate of criteria of Art and art-like, to a “conceptual mode,” where questions draw attention to the product by moving through the practices and processes and back again to the product (Genette, 1997, p. 154). This encourages arts practitioners to adopt expressions of arts research as “gestures” that “propose something to the artworld” and I would suggest, to the world of research (Genette, 1997, p. 143). Without a sense of gesture, questions of Art often slip into the equation, provoking assumptions about the “type of artistic function, but also the presence or absence of an artistic function,” rather than attending to the continuous movement of the arts as research (Genette, 1997, p. 256). By virtue of the scope and fluidity of the arts incorporated into inquiry, innumerable readings, responses, and aesthetic experiences are potentially possible. As Genette (1999) states, it is “not sound methodology to include in a definition a trait characteristic of only the ‘best’ members of the class it defines,” instead, it is critical to “perceive all the details of its construction, and thus to appreciate it knowledgeably” (p. 22). I believe this is also true of arts research, only when “works of art are received and valued on different planes,” will the arts paradigm mature (Benjamin, 1968, p. 224). Given inclusiveness is foundational in contemporary 30 postmodern education, as educators, it is of foremost importance the distinction between amateur and professional does not overshadow the significance of learning through the arts, but serves as a forum to extend conversations of the arts paradigm to embrace artful creations as “insights into human life and its meaning” (Korsmeyer, 2004, p. 11). Because the “artistic is not always bound up with the aesthetic,” rather than assessing arts inquiry as Art, it may be more constructive to contemplate the possibilities of the “relation between the artistic and the aesthetic” (Genette, 1997, p. 138). Genette (1999) underscores the importance of relations of works of art which are often “not aesthetic,” but “scholarly” or “scientific (historical),” and only when the works of art have an aesthetic intention do they constitute art (p. 121). In the arts paradigm, expressive research is not necessarily a work of a/Art by definition, and conversely, not all works of art are artistic, but works may have aesthetic merit. It is in this understanding of when is art that arts research makes spaces for both a/Artists because there is not necessarily a presumption of formal training. Returning to my works as an example, the video-article can then be assessed aesthetically and artistically as inquiry through the arts, as an expression blending traditional notions of beauty along with contemporary art practices rooted in theory, but the text-article, while aesthetically written, is not an example of art, but arts research. From a position of aesthetic relation, arts inquiry may be cultivated and interpreted in terms of quality and qualification without necessarily assigning value to the resulting works of art. In this way, the arts may bring together practitioners of all levels to formulate creative research ranging from novice to connoisseurship, where works function as both an “intense, rigorous perceptual activity,” and a more subjective perspective rooted in “cursory, synthetic or distracted” impressions (Genette, 1999, p. 9). What makes works of art quality may not be mastery of specific art skills, nor a cumulative increase in competence and complexity in art 31 abilities over time, but flexibility and open-endedness. If works are encountered from a relational aesthetics point of view, a position that acknowledges subjectivity and frames “the concept of judgement” involving “both the act of appreciation and the perceptual activity leading up to it,” then the active condition of a work of a/Art does not remain ambiguous to the audience, which is so often cause for critique (Genette, 1999, p. 12). Genette (1999) argues the subjective nature of aesthetic appreciation is always at play, and subjectivity determines an often immediate emotional response to works of art where “every appreciation of an object is relative to the subjectivity of the individual who appreciates it,” and diversity of opinion, including disagreement, is a “necessary consequence of subjectivity” (pp. 118, 119). Regardless of education and experience, Genette (1999) states, it is unlikely anyone can be persuaded to change their feelings, their “inner agreement,” but by sharing positionality and situatedness, Genette’s theory of aesthetic relation may offer the basis for understanding works of art in meaningful and constructive ways (p. 62). Like Richmond (2004b), I also “do not wish to give up on the sensuous, qualitative nature of art” concerned with aesthetic pleasure and appreciation in the process of making and in engaging with art products (p. 110). Appreciation as an act of “sustained perception, understanding, and appraisal of a work’s form, meaning and value” is an aesthetic activity underscoring much of the discourse in the arts paradigm, which is intrinsically woven into aesthetic individuality (Richmond, 1998, p. 13; 2004a). I realize this entry into aesthetics is susceptible to criticism for my simplicity and selectivity, and by no means do I suggest concrete answers. Certainly different theories of aesthetics, such as aesthetic banality and transaesthetics (Baudrillard, 2005) and/or negative aesthetics (Menke, 1999) offer other readings of artful expression in the arts paradigm. I am interested in developing means of engaging that extend beyond dualistic responses and move to contemplative considerations. Refining a conversation 32 of a/Art and aesthetics in this way allows my attention to be directed outward, to the transdisciplinary dimension of arts research, and the potential consequences of the movement of the arts paradigm within extended communities of art practice. The potential of social and cultural gentrification through the arts In this interpretation, I borrow the concept of gentrification from urban and social geography as a means to read the arts paradigm, to examine more critically how academics across disciplines are reframing social and cultural landscapes through the arts and why the actions of arts researchers may change broader arts conversations. Much has been written concerning the role of artists and higher education in gentrification, and the close ties of gentrification to the arts (Bridge; 2001; Deutsche & Ryan, 1984; Peck, 2005). Applying the term gentrification to the arts paradigm, and suggesting academics engaging in the arts are among the ‘different sorts of gentrifiers,’ a group I refer to as artademics, opens this conversation to new ways of thinking about the relational nature of the arts paradigm by interpreting patterns of movement (Redfern, 2003). Gentrification offers insights to shifts underway in the academy that have a ripple effect in terms of how wider society perceives the arts and art making. To date issues of arts research have remained largely focused on shaping methodologies and methods grounded in the arts, but it is also important to turn attention outward, which raises a series of key questions worth problematising: Do artademics gentrify the arts? Are other a/Artists displaced? What are the consequences for society, for the movement of art and culture? Are a/Artists denied spaces to begin circulating their works because artademics are filling those spaces? If, as Lees (1999) suggests, “academics have become conformist, complacent … and now ignore or avoid public issues,” is there a chance artademics are instilling a culture of sameness in social and cultural landscapes previously noted for living with uncertainty (pp. 377- 33 378)? Given the rhetoric of self-evolution and concern with social justice, how do arts practitioners so closely tied to these issues reconcile the impact of engaging in the arts upon Artists, community artists, and art and culture in general? Should there be a critique set in a healthy scepticism about the role and the artworks of academics? While gentrification is often cast as redevelopment, a positive change, it is the dubious aspects I am most interested in exploring in this conversation. Motivated by “notions of status,” the processes underway concerning artademics parallel what Redfern (2003) describes as the historical gentrification of professions such as lawyers and doctors in the 19th century, professions that came to be treated “literally like the gentry” (pp. 2355-2356). In the present- day, academics may seek new associations through the arts to enhance understandings of self and social status in a new neoliberal period where economic, political, and public success is closely tied to creativity (Peck, 2005). In the academy, some may feel ranked behind those in sciences and other professional practices, and the arts may serve as a means to negotiate a sense of difference in the new era, making identity as arts researchers “precisely about recognition, honour and respect” found in spaces of artful expression (Redfern, 2003, p. 2359). In this way, artademics express what Lloyd (2002) calls a ‘neo-bohemian’ disposition, invoking artistic innovation while at the same time increasingly making art a cultural commodity through the vehicle of the academy. Like gentrifiers in other domains, artademics are making art and culture a place of their own, and while this may result in a new order in the academy, Artists and community-based artists as activists may be displaced from the very conversations that artademics, as theorists, are striving to facilitate. As Redfern (2003) aptly states, “gentrifiers create anxiety for others, whose identities they threaten, to whom they pose a ‘danger,’ specifically because, in realising their goals, they deny those they displace the opportunity to realise theirs” (p. 2364). 34 In effect, artademics encroach on a/Artists under the auspices of conceptually-based contemporary arts practices, making higher education plus art valuable credentials in funding opportunities as well as in securing venues outside of the academy which may facilitate even more opportunities and greater access to publishing, performing or exhibiting than academics already possess. It may be argued that academics are displacing traditional voices in the arts through their proximity to such systems of distribution, resulting in an artful sprawl in the academy and wider society which ‘glamorizes’ inquiry and research (Cole, 1987). Cameron & Coaffee (2005) suggest “aesthetic valorization” makes art “a ‘marker’ for tracking the evolution of gentrification” (pp. 40, 54). Ley (2003) also states an aesthetic disposition requires both “middle class origins and/or high levels of education together” (pp. 2531). By disseminating ideas through art, “tensions in structure and agency” occur when a group like artademics “deploy their considerable cultural capital” to restructure a “habitus” of previously known social and cultural relationships within the arts (Bridge, 2001, pp. 205-207). Because artademics (of which I am one) reinforce such values through the “autonomy” the group possesses, and because the same practitioners then determine “prestige” in the arts paradigm, there is a potential to subvert the roles of Artists and community-based artists even if partnering with leaders in the arts (Ley, 2003, p. 2531). In this context, artademics function as gentrifiers through the aesthetic appropriation of social and cultural place. The deliberate positioning of artademics pushes these boundaries while at the same time colonizing the “broad matrix of the arts” (Ley, 2003, p. 2537). The arts as part of a larger social geography becomes a “stylisation of life,” where works of art are no longer “material products with a creator” but “a symbolic product,” in which value resides in the social dynamics that enables art making (Ley, 2003, p. 2532). How then, as academics, do arts practitioners protect the spaces of Artists and 35 community-based artists without creating boundaries around inquiry through the arts and arts research? While weighing detrimental aspects of gentrification by artademics, it is important to recognize this same transition also holds the potential for constructive contributions as the way to challenge and change existing domains. Through gentrification, artademics claim a position in both the academy and the wider social and cultural milieu which may ultimately bring the role of the academic full circle. In the past, academics were public figures who also disseminated research in “broad common language and created a national audience” (Lees, 1999, p. 377). The current move to the arts may provide a means to re-establish once again academics as public figures beyond ivory towers, where artademics, not impinged by the organizational censorship of the academy, lead an academic counter-culture that gentrifies systems of meaning making and knowledge production through the arts. It may be that within the academy, only in alternate third spaces such as the arts will academics find the personal freedom needed to reshape purposes and contributions, which will ultimately create a new arts scene, ideally in conjunction with existing spaces, rather than at the expense of Artists and community-based artists. Ruminating on the arts paradigm Genette’s analytic aesthetic approach concerning when is art suggests works of art are always in relation, individually or collectively, and always subjective. In the arts paradigm, relationships to works of art are integral, regardless if the works function autographically or allographically. Situating works of art requires a conceptual understanding of artistic and aesthetic characteristics, and the different ‘symptoms’ of intention (Genette, 1999). The artistic experience is one process which may double as an aesthetic experience, but not necessarily so, instead, the aesthetic experience may exist only in relation to the product, the work of art itself. 36 In tracing social and cultural shifts, arts research emerges as living, organic inquiry in which questions of aesthetics demonstrate a spatial relationality to past and present art movements. From a theoretical perspective concerned with positioning and situating, I question if an historical echo is underway, a resurgence of art history, reflective of former movements of Academic Art (academism) and Anti-Academic Art (anti-art) at the turn of the twentieth century (Harrison & Wood, 2005). Much like the shifts to the arts paradigm in the academy today, a similar shift took place in the past that may inform how the function of art is still understood. In the Academic Art movement, art was created under the influence of university disciplines (Harrison & Wood, 2005). Academic Art came to be viewed as bourgeoisie, without style, and overtly constrained and conservative. In response, the Anti-Academic Art Movement, instigated in part by artists within the Academic movement making bold and innovative expressions, inspired a new era of avant-garde expression in a cultural revolution that led to modernism. Artademics as boundary breakers and counter-culture figures in the academy are also ushering in a new era. Within the Anti-Academic Art movement, some artists continued to draw upon traditional modes and understandings in ways not dissimilar to artademics pulling from the qualitative paradigm, while other anti-artists broke with convention and created forms against art as a profession (Harrison & Wood, 2005). As Korsmeyer (2004) states, “tradition unavoidably frames the work of even the most iconoclastic artists” (p. 129). The evolving postmodern arts paradigm has hallmarks of both bourgeoisie sentiments (as academics in the context of gentrification), and counter-culture resistance (as artists), forming something new in a conglomeration of ideas where arts research opens and proceeds into artistic and aesthetic symptoms, or to paraphrase Harrison & Wood (2005), new art lies in creative construction. The arts paradigm as movement, as a transdisciplinary spatial relationship of inquiry, in- between works of art and academic practices, blends areas of study to form a new aesthetic of 37 artful expression that seeks alternate meanings in research, not necessarily truth claims. Residing in critical tensions and calling into question existing academic formations, the arts paradigm emerges as an expanding emancipatory ecotone, where artful expression as intimate communication transforms understandings in the construction of new knowledge, and in the course of doing, stimulates further inquiry and risk-taking. From an overview of the arts paradigm and a discussion of ongoing issues that continue to influence my thinking, I now unfold doing as part of the first panel of this triptych installation. Deeply reflecting on arts research, and documenting in detail the processes in action, this conversation moves to a one- year investigation concerning the lived and learning experiences of three women becoming art teachers. In the following account of doing research, I offer critical interpretations and understandings against which my positioning may be gauged, layered within multiple planes, across and through multiple latitudes and longitudes which constitute textual and visual inquiry of research partners and myself as researcher. 38 Doing Arts Research D Nathalie 39 Moving this conversation of arts research to the realm of doing, I begin in the ébauche, the underpainting, reflexively sharing my engagement with pre-service teachers, and my practices of investigating their lived and learning experiences becoming high school art teachers during a one-year teacher education program. I offer a commentary and an overview of processes to articulate the research experience as an aesthetic event of relational, interactive and collaborative practices, embedded in conversations, e-mails and visual images demonstrating the creative and unexpected ways arts research can unfold. Prelude to research Dear Researcher: The application with the above noted title has been reviewed and approved by the Behavioural Research Ethics Board. (Office of Research Services, e-mail) Weaving my research experience with the voices of research partners makes the processes of arts research a site of methodological inquiry, exploring what it means to partner with participants, what kinds of challenges and tensions define such a study, and what relational connections emerge during the course of inquiry. Being rooted in feminist understandings helped negotiate changes within this study in ways that are not part of typical academic discourse, enabling me to constructively respond to the challenges which emerged over the course of our year together (Reinharz, 1992). By documenting research processes as an arts researcher, I am, as Pillow (2003) recommends, “critically conscious” of my location, position and interests as researcher, making the research process “an object of the study” (pp. 178, 179). 40 I continue to critically reflect upon my situatedness as I write about our shared experience. I am compressing time and telling only parts of the whole story within the confines of the typed page. At best I offer a partial view of our research process, a view that emerged from a given time and place, but from which I may begin to theorize about arts research as partnership. Partnership is a critical piece of the research puzzle too often lost in traditional expressions of research. In partnership, inquiry may be renewed by establishing research relationships that are deeper, broader, more intimate and more meaningful, enriched with new understandings and questions. A discussion of research processes as a generative space, infused with creativity, collegiality and community, illustrates arts research as a relational and interactive experience. An invitation to share “…yes I'd love to participate as much as possible…” (Ann, e-mail) A senior faculty member at a western Canadian university announced my research study to the secondary art teacher cohort in early September, with an invitation to contact me for more information. I had no idea whether students would volunteer given they were entering a demanding program of study, and as an outsider to the cohort, I was unknown, manifest only as a name and e-mail address. I felt a measure of angst concerning volunteers: What if they do not share? What if we do not like each other? How would I ensure this study did not feel like a clinical research experience objectifying volunteers as ‘other’? In my practice, I am also wary of being among “academics, similar to tourists, [who] often only manage to get to the surface of any area of inquiry they pursue” (Pelias, 2003, p. 369). Given this was a long-term, in-depth study involving bi-weekly meetings and any materials volunteers wished to share, I anticipated a small group, perhaps even just one volunteer might express interest, so I was excited when six of 41 twenty-four students, or 25% of the cohort, agreed to participate. Although gender was not a criterion for participation, all who volunteered were women even though 13% of the class were men. I recognize gender may have shifted the study in different ways, and depending upon perspective, may represent a limitation of this case, yet I believe the extent of our “woman-to- woman talk” was only possible because we shared understood social patterns as women which enabled research relationships to form as conversations unfolded (Reinharz, 1992, p. 23). The intimacy and bonding that emerged during the year may not have developed within a mixed gender study. My initial area of interest concerned how beginning art teachers incorporated new media in their curriculum, but the focus of the study soon shifted within a framework of feminist grounded theory (Wuest, 1995). Although I bring pre-existing theoretical frameworks which define my worldviews and shape my research in relation to those views, feminist grounded theory meant I did not impose those views of what was most significant. Instead, during our conversations from September to August, “data analysis occurred concurrently with data collection,” and research questions for this study emerged during the course of data collection (Wuest, 1995, p. 129). Feminist grounded theory acknowledges the complexities of experience inherent in a practice-based profession like teaching and provides a method for understanding emerging social realities over time. Because I actively documented lived and learning experiences ‘as it happened’ over an extended time period, I ensured immediacy of the moment as raw data, not experience viewed from a distance. My approach, like that of Kushner & Morrow (2003), attends to agency, structure and critique, and extends to an analysis of organizational influences. In feminist grounded theory, there are no steps, fixed methods or procedures laid out in advance, rather this study had its own sequence based on interpreting data. As Mason (1998) states, “the 42 ‘theory comes last’ view,” while controversial, “ensures the researcher will develop theoretical propositions or explanations out of the data, in a process which is commonly seen as moving from the particular to the general” (p. 142). To apply the tradition of feminist grounded theory with integrity, I engaged in ongoing critical reflection and journaling, continuously reviewing research processes and practices in relation to lived and learning experiences of becoming- teacher (Wuest, 1995, p. 125). Our one-to-one meetings began in early September and set the tone for our evolving research relationships. As an arts researcher with feminist perspectives, I sought to “avoid control,” preferring to develop “a sense of connectedness” in an “atmosphere in which women felt knowledgeable” (Reinharz, 1992, pp. 20, 25). Women who volunteered were research partners with me, not participants in the usual sense. I invited collaboration on every aspect of our process: questions, transcript reviews and later, member checks of the written report. I asked for permission at each step, inviting their interpretations, and as partners, they were encouraged to take control of their transcripts and segments of the writing to ensure they were represented appropriately in the research. Our partnerships were at the centre of our research process, making the first phase of the study a period of emotional closeness. We met frequently in person, engaged in extensive dialogue and built solid working research relationships that sustained the study over a year, resulting in the quality, type and broad scope of information which informs this research. In practice, these research values were reinforced in everyday actions, for example, we routinely met in an available office, sometimes a classroom or a café. In the office, I consciously altered our seating and often took the guest chair to visually demonstrate shifts in power as I sat lower and I did not control the space from behind a desk. We shared tea, coffee, and snacks, attending to our comfort during our conversations. Our meetings were social encounters, 43 planned for an hour, but frequently extending two to three hours. We spoke with ease, and as an active listener, I reciprocated, sharing personal experiences in self-disclosure (Wuest, 1995). I brought questions to serve as prompts and to guide our conversations. Partners were invited to pass on any questions as they wished. Yet despite these checks, I sometimes wondered, can I really gauge how they feel in this particular moment in time? Perhaps as Bateson (1989) suggests, in such situations we are in the process of composing our lives within a community of learners, where we “gain even more from comparing notes and trying to discover the choices of our friends” (p. 5). I was equally conscious my decisions and actions in the course of our encounters were consequential. Each woman expressed early in the project aspirations to continue with her studies at some point, which may account for the decision to join the study. As this was their first experience with research, I felt it was essential to model good practice, good research and good etiquette, as had been modelled to me during my learning journey by individuals who taught me through their actions what it meant to conduct research with meaning. My strong commitment to a feminist orientation was in part solidified through such mentorship, and in this case, I sought to reciprocate and to facilitate with caring our research relationships. After the first round of meetings, I transcribed our audio-recorded conversations, and sent transcripts to the individual partners for review, a process which continued until the completion of the study. Transcribing our conversations myself over the course of the year was exhausting but vital in analyzing data while collecting data. As Riessman (1993) suggests, “close and repeated listening” to our conversations helped develop multilayered interpretations (p. 60). I employed voice-activated software, listening and speaking our recorded conversations in small snippets, and upon completion, verifying the conversations by listening again and editing the transcription as required. The experience of transcribing verbally and textually allowed me to relive the conversations, to hear nuances in life stories and segues of experiences that were 44 emerging at varied times, linked together across several conversations. The more I listened while re-speaking their words, the more connections were lifting out of the transcripts. My understandings of becoming an art teacher began to take shape, both as particular and general understandings. I believe such revelations would not have happened if I had relinquished transcriptions to a third party. This is part of how I learn. I learn by doing, and the hands-on laborious task of transcription was an aesthetic experience of sorts, for I lingered in and resonated with tones, words and expressions, making tactile action central in my coming to know. As a researcher, understanding this part of the research process was critical. My work has been, and will likely continue to be, small-scale, detailed and in-depth inquiries involving few partners, rather than large-scale studies which do not allow a researcher to develop such close relationships with partners and with data. For me, the effort to transcribe in research is essential to how I make meaning. Without this step, the importance of deeper layers might have been lost to me. It was clear after the first set of meetings research partners were most interested in talking about issues relating to the experience of becoming an art teacher, even though we touched on a range of topics including curriculum development and technology. They were already teaching me about becoming from an expert position, disclosing stories in ways I could not have anticipated or been sensitive to had I undertaken another research design. I felt it was my duty to follow their lead, to discover what they knew to be of value in their journey. I quickly became immersed in their experiences, reformulating my approach to seek understanding about the social world of becoming-teacher. I continued to think within their stories of becoming, a process through which I unveiled my own subjectivity as I attended to aspects of our research process through analysis (Pillow, 2003). In this holistic approach to research, we came to operate on multiple levels, as friends, peers, mentors and learners. The events which took place during 45 research, and how research unfolded is a story of success and frustration, and of hopes and disappointments, where “learning is making: making sense, making a life, making ourselves,” for research partners and myself as researcher (Randall, 1997, p. 8). In our year together we engaged in intense and extended conversations, accounting for many hours of interviews and hundreds of pages of transcripts, with each step of the process involving member checks and ongoing consultation. Critical moments “Things aren’t going so well. Won’t get into details…” (Nathalie, e-mail) The one-year teacher education program may be broadly viewed as having three key phases. Phase One, To Be an Art Teacher, spanned September to December, or the first term of the program, culminating in a two-week field experience known as the short practicum. Phase Two, Becoming an Art Teacher, took place January to May, and involved a thirteen-week assignment in a classroom known as the long practicum. Phase Three, Being an Art Teacher, describes the final months of the program of study. The teacher education program prepares pre- service teachers to apply for certification, but does not certify new teachers. Upon successful completion of the teacher education program, pre-service teachers apply to an external agency, the College of Teachers, for certification. After we had established our research relationships, I joined the cohort on a field visit to a regional high school, randomly photographing interactions of pre-service teachers as they worked with high school students. My intent was to adopt photo elicitation techniques during follow-up conversations with research partners, to generate ethnographically informed perspectives on their experiences of becoming. I quickly found this approach did not work. In our one-to-one meetings, we had already formed relationships of trust that allowed partners to 46 speak freely about matters involving events in the cohort and day-to-day issues in their lives. Inserting myself into the cohort as an insider-outsider created contradictory roles, and I sensed uncertainty in our next meetings. The photographs did not generate much commentary and our conversations seemed somewhat muted. As I reflected on this ‘bump’ in the research process, I became aware that my act of photographing pre-service teachers was problematic on a number of levels. By controlling the camera, and thus the renderings, I held authority over visual constructions. It would have been much more meaningful had I handed over the camera and asked partners to create photographs of their field experiences. More importantly, my participation in the field generated a disjuncture in how they perceived my role and our relationship. It was critically important to me that we continued to share our authentic selves during this journey. I did not want to inadvertently create research blocks in the trusted space of our meetings. In consultation with partners, we concluded this was not an effective approach for our inquiry. Later in the year, partners photographed their field experiences and in some cases, they chose to share those images as data. I believe if I had persisted in joining the cohort, I would have truncated the depth of expression that emerged in this study. At the same time, I faced numerous ethical and personal questions along the way. For some partners, becoming art teachers involved unexpected events, and it was during critical moments of the program three participants eventually withdrew from the study. The first participant did not continue with the study after a month due to the heavy workload. She continued in the program and successfully achieved certification upon completion. As the cohort prepared for the short practicum, a serious personal crisis emerged for a second research partner. The short practicum marks the first critical test for students; they must pass a two-week trial period in the classroom with a sponsor teacher in order to continue with the program. As stress levels of research partners grew exponentially, the increasing anxiety to perform as a teacher was 47 clearly at the forefront. Conversations with the second partner had taken a turn in which I sensed she might potentially harm herself, and while I was reassured this was not the case, I faced a difficult decision. What should I do? What was my ethical responsibility? What if I did nothing? I expressed to her, as a person, let alone a researcher, I was bound to intervene if I felt there was a likelihood she might hurt herself or others. I urged contacting counselling services and to my relief she did. After hospitalization and ongoing treatment, she withdrew from the program but wanted to continue meeting, and like a Deleuzian fold, I considered, why not? Our meetings continued sporadically in person and online until the end of the study. I enjoyed our conversations, although our dialogue shifted considerably from the focus of the study. Her perspectives on learning and living were a source of insight and originality that inspired my thinking, taking me in new directions. She bestowed upon me a new awareness of the well-being of students in our classrooms, as well as a thread of research I wish to pursue, understanding the experiences of students who do not complete their programs of study. So often research reports only positive outcomes and progressive results. Students who withdraw are invisible in much of the literature. Where are the stories of learning interruption? When I look back on this experience I still wonder if I could have done more and at what point. I felt ill-equipped to respond adequately. I have no training in crisis intervention and relied on common sense and intuition in the moment. I realized too that I was deeply affected by the suffering I witnessed, an empathy rooted in concern for the welfare of this research partner. This experience was not only a test of faith in my self-perception as researcher, but in my ability or inability to be objectively apart from the research study. With a measure of reproach, I often asked myself: Was I too intimately tied to the lives of research partners? Could I conduct a meaningful research study without maintaining a high degree of intimacy? The experience influenced my interactions with other partners, in particular, a woman who visually and textually 48 expressed mortality metaphors in her journals. When I questioned her about the meaning of these constructs, she described a symbolic shift from her previous self-concept to that of teacher, a transition in identity suggestive of ending a chapter in her life. I had to ask given the experiences of the second partner, an experience which has proven to be a vital lesson learned as a researcher. In Phase Two, during the long practicum, an experience of extreme difficulty for some students, a third partner expressed viewpoints that were increasingly concerning, and this dialogue continued after the practicum was completed. The impact of the practicum had been exceptionally negative in a number of ways for this research partner, and talking about experiences in our conversations seemed to make matters worse. Over a three week period, we discussed the situation and deliberated on what was best. My sense was, continued participation in the study could potentially cause harm, and on that basis, she should not continue, yet I worried if I withdrew her, I might aggravate an already delicate situation and she might feel isolated or even abandoned. It was a deeply unsettling time that required careful negotiation of sensitivity for the research partner while balancing her perceptions of the program, attending to all research partners and the intricacies of their experiences, both positive and negative, while also considering what was best for the research study. In due course, we came to the mutual understanding withdrawal was best. She continued with the program and completed her studies. I reflect on withdrawals as turning points, each unique in reasons and each requiring a thoughtful response. By inviting partners to share experiences in a study, there is a reciprocal responsibility to consider the after-effect, the potential lasting impact research decisions and actions may have upon an individual. Although such an ethic of caring is generally not detailed step-by-step in methods textbooks, as an arts researcher with feminist perspectives, I feel I must attend to the haziness of research involving close working relationships, and how the imprint of 49 such experiences may be traced in perceptions, ways of knowing and ways of being in future endeavours. Looking back on a year with three to six research partners, we shared moments of elation, joy, imaginative ideas and inspired collaboration, but as in all working relationships, we also shared moments of awkwardness, discomfort, annoyance, hesitation and silence. There were a host of issues at the heart of our differences, including our gender. We grew up in different geographies and we are of different generations. We hold differing understandings as women and in our views of feminism. In some cases, we shared opposing views on the social construction of gender and consequential experiences in society. Ironically, the differences I came to feel in some cases were reminiscent of the feminist generational gap articulated to me when I was in my twenties by women who engaged in feminist pursuits in the 1960’s. In this regard, there were views expressed in our conversations which made me uncomfortable. At some points conversations were deeply objectionable and I felt a sense of estrangement, yet I did not express strong disagreement or articulate an argument from another perspective fearing elements of the researcher power dynamic would take hold in some form, and having encouraged open, free-form conversation in a place of safety and partnership, I would create a paradoxical state within the research process. How then do I honour partners and balance power as researcher? How are moral challenges negotiated in collaborative research spaces? I am still seeking these answers. Becoming teachers I know I WILL BE ABLE TO DO THIS! (Ruth, e-mail) Information in this study was derived from a variety of sources, including personal journals kept during the year, e-mails, telephone calls, letters, photographs, artful expressions 50 rendered in many mediums, a self-directed project, as well as the voluminous transcripts of our meetings. These interrelated sources of information required different lenses to explore the experiences of partners more fully, to develop a greater sense of the many private and public dimensions which defined experiences of becoming-teachers, and equally, to better understand the nuances of my research inquiry. By unpacking the research processes, a more in-depth understanding of the issues framing research encounters emerged. For example, narratives and artful expressions of becoming through arts inquiry reshaped my orientation in relation to sources of information, generating greater complexity in theoretical and methodological engagements in the study. In this way, we became a community of inquiry, partnering in doing research as well as in the research experience. Ruth, Ann and Nathalie (pseudonyms) completed the study and their narratives and visual expressions about becoming art teachers form the basis of interpretations. Ruth, Ann and Nathalie are demographically close in age and share similar educational backgrounds. They are diverse in culture and ethnicity, and identify with different social classes (see Appendix 1). In accordance with the ethical review, only partners who completed the one-year study form part of the final report. In my ongoing deliberations on process, I wondered about the possibilities of partners writing their individual stories from interrelated sources, but for a number of reasons I knew this was not feasible. Partners were fully involved in their personal and professional lives, and as the researcher, it was my responsibility to assume this role, to make the final discretionary decisions, yet I continued to trouble my actions, particularly concerning ownership of understandings. It seemed inevitable my political and theoretical perspectives would influence authorship and determine what was selected as significant and what was omitted from textual and visual interpretations. In the course of preparing interpretations, I came to regard both the narratives 51 and visuals as markers of how well I understood what had taken place over one year, and how well I understood the dynamics of the research process. Shifting understandings of becoming Periods of distance took place during Phase One, the short practicum of two weeks, and in Phase Two, the long practicum of thirteen weeks. Due to the demands of practicum, we did not meet in person but continued to be in contact via e-mail and telephone. After both practicum experiences, partners were emotionally and physically drained, in some cases describing the experience as an emotional rollercoaster, yet threads emerged in follow-up conversations which suggested partners were actively deliberating on broader social, cultural, political and economic factors that influenced becoming-teacher. These threads signalled another shift in the study. As partners developed stronger teacher identities, there was a parallel move towards more active engagement in art practice and this extended to our research. I was most interested in exploring opportunities for partners to further shape the direction of the study, and given their specialisation in art, art practice as a research strategy was most appropriate as a means to conceptualise lived experience (Cole & Knowles, 2001b). Traces of emerging standpoints culminated in my decision to adopt a self-directed arts project in the third phase of the study. As a practice-based approach, artistic forms of knowing generate alternate ways of seeing and sensing lived and learning experiences. With the scope of information collected, and the creative orientation of partners, arts inquiry was a natural next step in the study. I provided journals and disposable cameras, as well as some guiding questions to help facilitate process if needed. For the last two months of the program, Ruth, Ann and Nathalie worked independently. It was critical they had time and space to deliberate without my 52 observation or input. I did not want to mediate their ways of seeing as they completed the program (Pink, 2003). We came together again for a final conversation at the end of the program to conclude our year together. At that point, if they wished, I included photos and journals in the study, but this was not a requirement. I was interested to discover some partners had incorporated the journal and photographs into course assignments. More importantly, partners did not necessarily take up journaling and/or photography to express experiences, instead research partners often utilized art methods they were most comfortable with in their existing practice, including sketching, collage and painting. In Ruth’s case, engagement became an integral part of her final months in the program and she completed two journal books, but few photographic images. She described journaling as an embodied experience: I took it everywhere. It was always in my bag. I would take it to dinner. I would use it in the most random places, like we were on the bus going for a visit to see my parents. I knew I could be really honest with it. It was my way of relaxing. The journals were better for me. I don’t understand photography to its fullest and in photography you have to be intimate with the camera, you have to understand it. I felt disjointed from the camera but I felt really in tune with my journal. For Ann, the self-directed component became a space to explore transitions through visual expression, poetry and written reflections. She created several sets of photographs during the final phase. Ann’s depictions suggest the project was a means of crossing perceived boundaries as a student and finding self-definition in self-expression: I did get to reflect in the journal without worrying about it being judged. The freedom I found in doing it was excellent. I particularly liked being able to use it as I wanted, for whatever I needed it to be. The section where I considered the parenting aspects of teaching and teaching aspects of parenting helped me think about what kind of teacher I want to be, what attributes and habits I hope to develop. The photos were fun to integrate but I feel I ran out of time to truly explain the photos. Mostly I took pictures of places that gave me great feelings. Many were of nature. Some I could relate to or use as metaphors for teaching, learning, living and desire. Others I just 53 couldn’t help but take. I used to work front to back … now I work more freely and experiment more. In Nathalie’s case, she elected not to work with the journal or disposable camera, even though visual journaling was a core component in coursework in the art education program: I wasn’t very strict about doing it. I couldn’t use the disposable. I don’t know why. I did take some pictures but I haven’t finished the roll. It just felt very forced or something, I couldn’t do it. And the journal, it wasn’t as reflective or ‘out of body’ as I would’ve liked it to have been. It was very much about the classes I was taking. I didn’t have time to do it justice. So in a sense, in the way that I use photos and the journal for my understanding of becoming a teacher, I think it is still ongoing. Ruminating on research partnerships From my perspective as a researcher, the data sets of narratives of becoming, art practice and the self-directed project, which emerged under the methodological framework of arts research offered different streams of information in which I needed to dwell to appreciate the significance of key events in the lives of research partners. Each source of information offers multiple interpretations. With expansive information and interpretive possibilities, I increasingly drew upon heterogeneous threads of theoretical and methodological approaches, integrating different forms of arts research as well as qualitative methods. I opted for customary approaches, seeking understandings that broaden and strengthen interpretations by connecting interrelated threads in multiple research approaches. At the same time, I recognize I open my arts research and interpretations of sources to criticism for arbitrarily blending strategies, which some researchers may view as weakening the research, or corrupting, indeed fetishizing research findings. Following the research protocols of feminist grounded theory, analysis was concurrent with data collection during the course of the year, but only after the completion of collection, 54 having come to my own understandings of each source of information, did I begin to engage in the existing literature. My interpretations of becoming a teacher of art are situated in a interdisciplinary framework of rhetorical, aesthetic and ideological dimensions, where different renderings of information unpack lived experiences textually, visually and integratively. The interpretation phase of the study presented a set of unique challenges given the intimacy of our research relationships. Hoskins & Stoltz (2005) suggest researchers with small sample sizes may not “fully anticipate” how research relationships affect analysis as well as the rendering and presentation of research (p. 95). There were moments when I felt that predicament. I sought to balance the “privileging of knowledge and expertise” of partners and my role and ability to “analyse and interpret,” while not wanting to offend partners by taking “a critical stance” (Hoskins & Stoltz, 2005, pp. 97, 102). Even though each form of interpretation was put before partners with an invitation for consultation, there existed underlying concerns for me. I felt an obligation to check, double check, to outline potentialities, and to ask again: Do you want to include this part of your experience? Do you want to include this image? Despite written consent, did they really understand what it meant to include their experiences in a public forum? Was I growing reluctant to invoke the researcher role in the study? Doing arts research may be described as being on the margins, where emotions are entry points to understanding the aesthetics of lived experiences. In the process of analysis, I also wondered if partners felt confident to question and disagree with my interpretations. I had further concerns that research about lived experiences can appear as academic property. When research partners are known as pseudonyms in written text, their anonymity and confidentiality is protected, but arguably, a layer of invisibility is imposed at the same time, despite fostering collaborative relationships. 55 With a backdrop of ongoing reflexivity, I now enter the second panel of this triptych installation, the unexpectedness of research practices, shifting this conversation to narratives as creative non-fiction in an in-depth engagement that enriches and enlightens my understandings of becoming-teacher in unexpected ways. 56 II UNEXPECTEDNESS: RESEARCH PRACTICES Ann 57 Narratives of Becoming D Ruth 58 In the central panel of this triptych installation, I introduce each partner and their experience of becoming an art teacher in their own words. The richness of the following narratives represent portraits of three determined young women with very different worldviews as artists and very different professional goals as becoming-teachers (Lightfoot & Davis, 1997). Working from hundreds of pages of transcripts and multiple data sources required filtering information and condensing experiences, generating narratives approximately thirty pages in length, yet I feel much is absent from between the lines. During our member checks, I stressed narratives were open to change and encouraged partners to engage in a process similar to approving transcripts. They were invited to revise their narratives and add segments of importance I may have missed, creating an opportunity to collaboratively refine individual narratives from the draft I presented. Positive responses to the drafts confirmed we were in unison as research partners, and our perceptions of events were consistent. Narratives are explored as creative non-fiction, a textual form of retelling lived and learning experiences of research partners in which I enter research practices of creating “with care and openness and critique,” and in so doing, invite readers to consider multiple readings, interpretations and writings of the full narratives rather than closing stories to a singular, static interpretation (Leggo, 2007, p. 10). In this way I seek to pose more questions and generate differing perspectives to further possibilities for knowing through arts research. 59 Ruth’s story: The bridge I have to walk over D 60 I’m going to build a bridge I always wanted to be an art teacher. It started off because my mom wanted to be a teacher. She was a teacher’s assistant and she worked with a lot of special needs kids, and I have always been the one in my family to pick up the pencil and paper and draw, whether it be my favourite image, Ariel the Little Mermaid, or anything else. That was always me, and I think loving drawing, and watching my mom at work and hearing her stories came together and became a goal for me. It just always made sense to me that teaching is what I wanted to do. So I’ve never really looked away from this goal. I would never doubt that I’m supposed to be here. I went from high school right into university and completed my arts degree with a major in fine arts and a minor in French. I don’t really have any outside experience in terms of teaching a class. I’ve observed in classrooms of my own accord. I had a tough time deciding what grade level I wanted to teach, elementary or high school. In the end, I decided that high school is really where I wanted to be because that’s where I can teach the kids the kinds of things I love to do. It is one thing to colour with crayons and have kids make abstract stuff and say ‘that’s so cute’ or ‘tell me about that,’ but I really want to go a lot deeper and work through difficult issues with teenagers. It’s not that you’re not influencing kids when you’re in an elementary school, because you are huge influence, but just in a different way. Being able to express yourself and everything that comes along with being a teenager, and experiencing everything is where I want to be. Kids need good teachers to help them through their five years of high school and that’s what has brought me here. Now I’m taking teacher education and I’m quite young still, so that is one concern of mine about teaching high school. I don’t want to fit in too well with the high school kids. I will be teaching kids that are only five years younger. Other students in the cohort have had experience in different jobs, they’ve done some traveling, they’ve done different things and now 61 they’re coming back and they have the life experience. I don’t have that kind of life experience so to speak, outside of school, so what if I teach Grade 8 and they are sassy, and what about those Grade 12’s, they’ll tower over me! How am I going to be able to keep the peace, have the classroom management and just be able to teach them what they need to know about art, and why art is relevant these days? I thought back to my high school years and the way my teachers taught me, and do I want to be that kind of teacher? How might I do that? What would I want to change? A lot of questions started to fill up and although I know that they will be answered, what do I do in the meantime? Even though there’s still that deeper fear, it looks more realistic now. I can feel comfortable knowing I will be taught how to deal with everything that comes along, and how to deal with changes. So even if there is something I’m not sure of now, I will know how to do it by the end of this program. Our first day was really great. There were so many readings in the first week, you’ve got to read, article, article, article, chapter, chapter, chapter, reading response, reading response, and then visual journal. I want to do all the readings and I want to retain everything I can in the readings, but they are telling us, skim and scan. It isn’t about understanding everything, it is just about having those ideas. You just want your brain to hold everything in, but then there’s that point of saturation, in one ear out the other, so by the time we got to the end of the first week I just wanted to do it again, to start over. In high school, I tried to fit in and not to be noticed. In Grade 11, I started dating my husband. He was involved in everything: student council, student action, Counter Attack, everything. It was good for his resume, and it was good for scholarships. He has a real ‘get those marks’ attitude, and I’ve always had a good grade average, so he was the one who really got me into being a part of organizations, and in turn made me realize it was really good to put yourself out there and that brought me out of my shell. When I was in high school, I didn’t miss 62 class unless I absolutely had to. I wasn’t necessarily the most energetic student, like ‘I know this, pick me, pick me,’ but I was very attentive. I’m a real people pleaser so I don’t want to ruffle any feathers. I don’t like to give my own opinions a lot of the time, especially if they differ from somebody else. I usually change my opinions, and say, ‘Well that makes sense too, maybe I’m wrong.’ In high school, I did an art piece at graduation about me starting off to university, looking into the sunset with my arms extended. In it, I’m outside and I’m going to build a bridge. I am a very personal artist. During my undergrad, we had to think of the concepts. I like to paint things that make sense to me, but it might not make a lot of sense to my audience, so at this point I would not be a good gallery artist. I don’t think people understood what I was trying to say in my undergrad years. I tried my hardest to fit the whole family personal thing into concept art but it didn’t work out well. I remember making one project which was about my father, he’s a policeman, and I loved this project. I wanted to portray my dad as more than a policeman. It is not just the suit. So I painted a series of three and it was my dad in the police uniform on the job, he’s a highway patrolman, there was another one with me and my sister and my mom in an intimate setting, and then there’s a third one. It was a very personal piece for me because I see my dad as so much more than a policeman. We had our critique in the classroom and I saw how much an audience can dismantle and turn around what you want to say. There was one student who apparently did not see policemen as useful assets of society and interpreted it in such a negative way. Really, how can I say it, it really hit me personally, because my work is so personal. I realized I don’t like critique. At that point, even though I wanted my art to be personal, I had a hard time describing my art. It’s all about my own experiences, my imagination, how my life is. I think my perception is really going to change this year in terms of 63 how my art looks, and as I think about the students and what I want them to do. It’s really pushing my own boundaries of what art is and how you can express yourself. As a teacher, I’m a little bit unsure of myself, mostly because I have such a smattering of knowledge in a lot of places and I don’t realize that the students I’m teaching are not going to have any. In the future, once I know a little more about students and about being a facilitator or guide, I will help students come down the same path that I did, in whatever way they are going. I’ll have a lot to offer them, a lot of energy to impart to them, to give them the reins and say, ‘Let’s go, let’s just have fun!’ I really do feel like a seed, being opened up and putting roots down and waiting to find the sun, and just grow up. I’m really excited about everything. Right now I’m going everywhere, my brain isn’t stopping. Last night I dreamt I was teaching. Everything in my life is teaching, teaching, teaching, but the fear of failing is always there, like when you do something for the first time that other people do professionally. I think, ‘Oh, did I get it? Will I get it?’ We’re doing lesson plans right now and I went to talk to the instructor today because I’m really confused. There’s so many different lesson plans, all these different templates, and all the words are different but they all mean the same thing. I don’t get it. Other people are writing within the hour allotted and I’ve written down ten things but I’ve completely missed the process. That was a real eye opener. I had question after question. I don’t get it, why don’t I get it. I know I’m going to succeed because everyone is there to help, so it is unnecessary fear. I might teach things differently than how I was taught in school. So much of art class is about identity and trying to figure out who you are. Anything from body image to self-image to gender issues, then there’s the social justice classroom and teaching diversity and I could do so much with that. It isn’t about the process necessarily. It can be about context and personal issues, and it can be anything you want it to be. I want to further that goal. I want to be able to 64 make art about anything that the students want to do. I want to help them get where they want to go because whatever they have in their mind to do is art to them. It doesn’t have to be open to critics, so I think that’s my biggest goal for this year. We went on a field trip with the cohort where we were in the role of observers. I wasn’t a student anymore and it was very weird, because you’re very familiar with the role of a high school student and a university student. I’m used to listening to a lecture for an hour, but going in the classroom, I wasn’t made to sit, I was just listening, it wasn’t about a lecture anymore. It was about getting the kids involved and then letting them do their own thing. I really felt between worlds almost. I wasn’t quite a teacher, so I wasn’t in charge and I certainly wasn’t the student, but at the same time, I was young enough still that a lot of things they are interested in are interesting to me too. It was very easy, and surprising that I could go up to a table of Grade 8 boys and ask them how they’re doing, and we got into a whole discussion about Nintendo. As a teacher, I was wondering, is this allowed? As a teacher, do kids talk to them about their everyday stuff? But I still wasn’t one of the group. I was an outsider. I was like a teacher, an incoming source, so they were careful about what they said. We talked a little bit about hockey starting in a couple of weeks and they were excited about that. It was a very out of body experience because I was so many things at once. I actually found it easier to talk to the guys, who have always intimidated me, than the girls, especially the Grade 9’s, oh, they’re snotty! I figured, I’m a girl, so sisterhood, but it was just after lunch and they were chatting rather than doing their art. The funny thing was, the other student-teachers were able to talk to other groups that I wasn’t able to talk to, so it was weird, the people who I felt more comfortable with and less comfortable with. I think back to my high school, the art room was always open and kids would eat in there, and I think that is what made our room such a great place because we could sit together and talk. It created a sense of community. 65 In our cohort, we are practicing dressing as an artist or art teacher at the moment, and it is amazing how some people look so much like art teachers. Totally teacherish! I just love it. What should I wear? What’s artsy? What does an art teacher look like? You can’t wear your best dress. I braided my hair, but that made me look 15, so I would never braid my hair again. I wore some big dangling earrings and a wrap that my mom got from the Caribbean with tassels on it. I wore some blue dress slacks. I’m really concerned about how to dress. You are an art teacher but an art teacher dresses differently than a regular teacher. I don’t remember my art teachers ever wearing suits, you don’t do that because you are going to get messy. So my mom and me went shopping and found six blazers for the price of one, which is fabulous. They were all different colors and they are all artsy. One of them is an empire waist, it’s my favourite. I’ve got to look young and fun, but I have to look professional, and there’s a difference between old professional and stylish young professional. I can see what people wear, but I can’t necessarily put it together, and I get ideas from other people in the class, like one girl she wears the coolest necklaces, I just love them, I want them so badly! She wears them everyday and so having a little bit of funky jewellery can mix up a more professional outfit. This is as important as lesson plans. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail I’m at a point now that I’ve gotten to so many other times in my life, and I’ve never actually taken the next step. There is a threshold between the really wanting to, and actually doing it, the thought and the action. I have a lot of thresholds with learning language, even though I have a French minor. Learning and speaking a language are two very different things. I can understand French very well. In my classes, I never spoke a word because it was the threshold. I was scared to be wrong. I was scared to have my grammar in the wrong positions or 66 forgetting words or pronouncing things incorrectly. I got into French as an English student, I never went to Immersion. I love languages and I love French, it is a beautiful language, I wish I could speak it. I can speak in my head perfectly, so someone says something to me, I know exactly what to say in my head, but in class I rarely spoke. There was that fear. I had the opportunity to go to Québec, but in the end, because my husband and I got engaged and then the marriage thing, the whole planning, I had to say no. So there was another threshold that I really wanted to cross, but at the same time, it was kind of comforting that I could say no because I didn’t have to cross that bridge. So I’m at that point right now again. I really want to be a teacher. I’m really excited about being a teacher and I want to do it. I want to teach what I have been learning, but there’s still that fear, the whole bridge thing that I have to walk over. You can’t walk over it in steps almost, you are either doing it or you’re not. I mean, we teach one lesson at a time, but you’re either the teacher or you are not. We’ll be observed in the first week of the practicum, which is really good, and then we will teach one lesson a day. It is like I have to jump to the whole other side, which is really scary for me, so I’m excited and at the same time scared out of my mind. I thought countless times of my dad saying, ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.’ This is a big one, now I hear his words in the back my head. I really want to go on Monday to my practicum and get over the initial fear. I want to be in the back of that classroom to document everything that happens and every single thing the teacher does, I want to model action for action, word for word. Then really what I’m doing is putting everything that I’ve learned so far into perspective which I want so badly but that fear is kind of right there. I know how to write things down. I know how to write the lesson plan. I know how to do the research because I learned that from my undergrad. I could have all of the information but it is the presentation of the information that’s hard, that I’m not used to, because I’ve always felt, well up until this year, I would probably never do presentations in my life! I 67 never liked getting up in front of people, so getting up in front of a class of who knows how many kids because of class sizes, let’s say, 35 maybe, that I don’t know. I have to teach them something that they may or may not know about. At least in art there’s much broadness and there’s always new things happening and old things that are being found, new interpretations, but I still feel like I don’t know a lot, you can’t do the whole thing and say, ‘I know everything!’ I don’t even know what grade I’m going to get yet. I would love to have a Grade 8 class. I used to think I would want to teach Grade 10, 11, 12 and in this moment now, Grade 8’s would be really good because they are still scared! Then I could work my way up. So even that perspective has changed in the last month and a half, of where I’d rather be. This is going to sound really bad, but I’d rather feel a little older than the kids, because Grade 8’s, that’s manageable for me. I’m nine, ten years older than them. I have a good chunk of time, and I’d have a little more control obviously because they’re new. Control doesn’t have to be in the sense of you do this, you do that, but having classroom management. I never thought my favourites would be the Grade 8’s. I always thought that Grade 6, 7, 8, 9’s were really snotty, didn’t want to pay attention and didn’t want to work, but when I observed a Grade 8 class on our field visit, they were the best, I couldn’t believe it! The more I talk about things, the better I feel. I’m one of those people that has to walk around the mountain quite a few times, but each time I feel little bit better. I find my steps each time around, and with each of those steps, I get little bit more wisdom, and every time I go around I get another piece of the puzzle, and finally after ten or fifteen times, I get it. Walking over the bridge There are a lot of words I would like to use, such as frustrated, stressful, but I figure in the spirit of being positive, there was just so much happening and it was just such a whirlwind, it 68 is hard to explain it all. There were moments when really inspiring things happened, and moments of real encouragement, there were moments of tension, and fear, and my first teaching was eighty minutes of fear because my teacher left! The students had berries that they were throwing. So anyways, other than that, I guess it was very surreal in a lot of ways and the biggest thing I learned was that teaching is not a pedestal job. I’ve always seen teaching as a category that takes a long time to obtain. The ‘teacher’ was a huge heading and the teachers who do teach, they are so noble, they do such great things and they inspire kids, they encourage kids, they are monuments in kids lives really. Now that I’m there, the job has totally been taken off the pedestal. I’m experiencing it from a low-end up, so I’m in an awkward position where I have to learn just like in any job and it’s not, from where I’m seeing right now, it’s not as noble as I thought it would be. I don’t mean that in a negative way, but I have obtained it, it’s not an unattainable position, and that really surprised me, that took me aback. Now to be able to say that I am the teacher, it is something that I guess, I never saw myself taking the step. Teaching can happen in such different ways than I expected. I needed to see where the kids were going and what they were doing so when I was teaching them in the next week, I would know as much as I could. With my teacher I didn’t feel a lot of context happening, and I didn’t see the same creativity that I expected, I guess going to that pedestal ideal now, something that has taken its place is the perfect lesson. Because I have all these things I want to do and I want to teach, I would like to get the kids to be so involved, and I’m kind of reaching for that now and I saw bits and pieces of those things happening but not to the extent that I want them to happen. I want that idolized position now because I will always be trying to attain it, but as our professors have said, they never teach a perfect lesson or perfect day or perfect week or perfect month, things always happen that you don’t expect. 69 I thought I would teach and the kids would be pumping out this great stuff. I come in with a hook, roll assignment, and we are going to do teacher action plans, we’re going to talk about what we are going to do, we are going to include context and image development, and elements and principles. The kids are going to be excited and discuss things, then we are going to work, and cleanup and that’s how it is all going to work! There aren’t going to be any tables where kids aren’t working and they’re all going to be excited because they are going to be able to do their own projects. In reality, the kids that are self-motivated were that and the kids that didn’t care just sat there. It was a shock, right there. One kid brought his basketball to class and he just bounced it the whole class. And then there’s those certain kids who may have been ESL, there were quite a few ESL kids in the class, and I didn’t know if they understood or not, or if they just didn’t want to do the work. There were so many different things. They would sit there and during one lesson I taught, I had directions up on an overhead, I talked about what we were going to do, and then I went over to their table and said, ‘OK, we’ve already talked about it twice, how are you guys doing?’ And they hadn’t taken their sketchbooks out yet! So how can you then motivate those sorts of kids? I found that was something I really focused on. I call them the kids at risk. Then I got the Grade 8’s to work in groups of four or five and that was really hard for them because some of the groups worked well, other groups didn’t know what to do and they would sit there and shrug. I think good teachers make it look easy. I did some marking for my teacher, but I didn’t ever see the criteria. I’m assuming there must’ve been some criteria. Some kids just had their name and decorated the letters. Some kids went all out and did a whole full-blown picture and included their names, so when I was asked to mark based on which one I liked best, it was very very hard because there obviously were some kids that had put a lot of effort into the execution of their work. The colors were great, they were 70 really deep, things were outlined that needed to be outlined, and if you held it up from far away you’d be able to see the right things and the composition was great. And then there were the kids that probably did the criteria, put down their name, coloured it in and they’re done. How can you give the person who did all the extra effort an A or A+, and the other person who did what they were supposed to, how can you not give them an A+ too? I need to have criteria, out of 10, out of 10, out of 10. And I’m a woman so there are things that look more aesthetically pleasing to me than to a man. There was one folder in particular that had a race car, the RPMs, and the boy’s name in letters that implied movement. It was a great piece for him but it didn’t inspire me in any way. So how can you really level that in terms of marking? I would mark much differently. I think it would be important at the beginning of the year to give the kid the syllabus, and say this is what we’re going to be doing. I would have an overall marking scheme for every single thing they do. We’d go over it so they always know what is expected. I often stayed until six o’clock like some of the teachers at the school. It would be much more advantageous for me to be there until maybe 4:30, help cleanup and then say, ‘I’m going to go home to work on my lesson plans.’ I didn’t really want to stay late all the time, but I felt I had to. My teacher helps with a number of clubs, but I’ve never been big on dancing, so staying for the salsa club, I’m doing it because she does it. She asked, ‘Can you make a poster for me for the salsa club,’ so I made a poster, and it became assumed that I was going to stay. I left early because my feet hurt so bad from all day, and I felt so bad after, I felt so awful. The whole way back on the bus I thought, oh I should have just stayed, why, what propelled me to go home? In the moment it was the selfishness of my feet, my feet hurt. It made me grumpy so I just went home without really thinking about what I was doing. And I really wanted to have my own space. I didn’t want to show anybody my frown. I felt I would’ve snapped at anybody if 71 they had talked to me. I wanted to go see my husband. I didn’t want to make any tensions or any uncomfortableness at the school. I was surprised at how tired I was everyday. I know that sounds a little bit negative, but teaching is a very wearing job. You need to have enough of yourself to go home and still be yourself. It was pretty easy for me to come home, take off my shoes and get in my pyjamas. I think taking your clothes off and putting on your home self is very important. Every day I would have an hour to watch TV or I would play on the computer a little bit, or I would do something that was not work related at all, and that really helped me get into it. I don’t know how people go about having a private life after being in school and being so busy all day. My sister visited us during the first week. She helped me pick out my clothes for the next day. She ironed for me once or twice. Teaching the second week and not having her there was hard. I think we ordered pizza almost every night because I didn’t have time, and I was too tired making my lessons every night and doing a PowerPoint. It took three or four hours, so you take an hour of rest time, make dinner, and I wanted to be in bed by 11 p.m. I wouldn’t get to bed until 12 a.m. or 12:30 a.m. every night. Before we went on practicum, it was drilled into our heads, Code 5, Code 5, Code 51, don’t speak ill about anybody. Be as positive as you can out there, if not too positive. Make every effort to smile at anybody you see, you say hi to everyone, you butter them up, you make yourself look the best you can. Sometimes on the practicum, things were said to me that were very surprising. I couldn’t believe it. Teachers break Code 5 and you automatically become part of a private space. I didn’t like that. I don’t want to make any assumptions about anybody, and as student-teachers, we need to be extra careful about all the codes. So how we answer that is by 1 According to the BC Teachers’ Federation Code of Ethics, Code 5 states: The teacher directs any criticism of the teaching performance and related work of a colleague to that colleague in private, and only then, after informing the colleague in writing of the intent to do so, may direct in confidence the criticism to appropriate individuals who are able to offer advice and assistance. (Source: BCTF Professional Rights & Responsibilities) 72 keeping that to ourselves. If we make that public, it will create a certain atmosphere around us, around the teacher who told us in the first place, and then it could take any direction. I didn’t like that at all. I’m a person who can keep secrets but I don’t like keeping secrets especially between me and my husband. I don’t think there should be any behind-the-scenes talk in an institution where you are working with everybody so closely together all the time. There is a real, oh, what is the word, hierarchy of people, and there’s a lot of animosity from the people who don’t have the positions they want in schools. One of the teachers talked to me because he wasn’t sure if he was going to take me on or not. I said, ‘I’ll do anything just let me stay!’ He recognized right away that I wasn’t really putting my opinions out there, I was saying, ‘I’ll do whatever you like, where can I fit in?’ That’s how I perceived myself to be most useful, because then they can say just go here or go there and what he wanted to hear was, I can do this, let me do this part at this time in this class. He wanted straight up answers rather than agreement. He said to me, ‘You have to be really careful because you can give of yourself until there is nothing left to give because there’s always people there who will want your help.’ When I’m in a public role I always try to watch what I say, I try to be very PC, which is hard. I’m nervous to put out my opinions because I’m a harmonious person so when I’m in public, I’m the most people pleasing I possibly can be, and that really showed during the practicum. When I was out during the practicum, my teacher would ask whatever, I had no boundaries really and that is something I have to work on. Life as a teacher really depends on the reference letter your sponsor teacher writes for you, and as bad as that may sound, you have to make sure everything you do is in line with what they think and I don’t want to ruffle any feathers, I will always ask my sponsor teacher, ‘What do you think about this?’ 73 I think I gave the impression to the kids that I’m a very serious person. I have to smile more, even though I’m trying to distance myself, I still need to be very approachable and I don’t think I showed that very well. I even wrote that on my lesson plan – smile – so that I would remember. Going back to the whole idea of the bridge, I recognize in myself that I’m a real perfectionist and that came out in my teaching skills because I wanted my first lesson to be perfect and I wanted every lesson after that to be perfect too. So when my faculty advisor came to watch me, I felt very pressured to be perfect and I don’t even know what perfect is. Even in other instances in my life, earlier on the bridge, or walking over the bridge, I’ve always been scared because it’s not perfect and that’s usually why I don’t go forward. So in teaching a lot of things go wrong and learning from them is needed to get better, but it was a painful period of learning. I would’ve rather walked around the pond, taken the long way, but really I know that theory doesn’t help after a certain period. You have to practice using it. The short practicum didn’t change me, it fortified the idea of identity, that you need to have a public time and then there’s time when you have to go home. You have to let go for the day and then go fresh in the morning. I was really nervous those two weeks, really tense. My faculty advisor said I need to relax more and have fun. I had a kind of out of body experience in that first lesson I taught. My mind wasn’t thinking about the lesson, it was completely thinking about when the lesson was done. It was the time factor, there were forty minutes left and these kids weren’t listening to me. It was really hard. My brain was racing and the body was kind of there, my mind was totally in the moment. I just wanted time to be up so bad. I wanted the teacher to come back and take control so I could go sit down and watch some more. So that first experience with the Grade 8’s, it was very scary. I did not want to be there in that moment! But by the second day, it was almost the opposite. We made masks. They couldn’t finish the lesson because they were rowdy, but they had so 74 much fun and I almost felt like a bigger brother or sister. You have to be careful about that line, but I felt really comfortable with them and I was able to walk around and say, ‘How are you doing?’ It was fun. I was surprised the first day took so long, and the second day was so fast. Having the time go by fast is much better! I learned I’m very interested in assessment. I did my own marking for the two-day project that I did. I had a criteria that was ten marks for creativity, ten marks for group work, ten for use of material because it was earth art, and ten for a written paragraph that each student had to write. We did a self-assessment and most of them graded themselves quite honestly, which was very exciting. I really enjoyed that. Most of the paragraphs were very good. I had them answer whether it was two-dimensional or three-dimensional, what they did, why it was earth art, what materials they used and I got them to explain what the work was because that’s how they were going to document their work. And I took pictures. It was really great. I also had an experience that fortified the idea that I can just be who I am as a teacher. I saw some students in the library doing a project on war and peace, and one student was drawing a picture of an apple and a sword, and I saw the apple and I thought, oh, I wonder if that’s what I think it is, and I went and asked her. Now looking back right at this moment, that could’ve been putting the student on the spot because it was about her faith. Had a teacher asked me, I would have shied away. She said, ‘I was thinking about the original sin and how that’s the idea of war and peace.’ For me, to hear that from a student, because she obviously holds the same beliefs as I do, that really encouraged me that kids will, what’s the word, they will allow themselves to express that in art. I did that when I was in high school and I worked through some very difficult issues. For her to be working through that in a similar way really inspired me that you are free to express yourself if you want to in schools. I would really encourage that if students want to try. It was really cool for me. 75 When we came back from our short practicum, we talked about all the positive stuff, and I was really appreciative of that, for me it was really really helpful to pull out all those positive things. It made me feel better about what I had done. It was good to be back at university. Hearing from other people was really what I needed so that was just great in reinforcing that yes, I still want to be a teacher. From what I heard, I had a better experience than a lot of people. There were some things that people probably needed to talk about and they didn’t think they were allowed, so everyone was getting a little antsy. It is also the end of the term and everybody’s stressed. For others it would have been helpful to hear some encouraging words, like ‘It’s okay, this is the hardest part, we’ll work through it together, and we’re all here to support you and keep going, keep trying.’ Coming back to the cohort and being able to wear jeans and sweats, it feels nice, but I’m starting to notice there is a professional me and then there’s the comfortable me. I think I took a lot more time thinking about what I was going to wear than anybody else, and it wasn’t because I’m a vain person, but because fashion is not me. I like comfortableness, but I really felt I had to look professional and I had to just make myself stand out. Every night I had at least a twenty minute stare in my closet trying to figure out what was going to match. How could I wear my blazer? I couldn’t wear jeans and I couldn’t wear khakis, so what was I going to do. I want to have fun jewellery, which I don’t have, so every morning I would wear some earrings, or make sure my hair looks nice, and that in itself stressed me out because I wanted to look different. I had this amazing revelation just yesterday because we went observing to an independent school and again, I wore black slacks, a pink sweater, and a gray blazer. So I dressed for the part, perfectly. I went to the bathroom at one point and I caught myself in a full-length mirror in the school and I kind of stood there for a second and I thought, I really do look exactly how I wanted. It made me realize that I was really successful in this goal and I got comments 76 throughout the two weeks on practicum, like, ‘You know, you look really nice today.’ Let’s say it gave me a little sense of peace. I am the paintbrush As a spiritual person I want to imitate Christ in my life and the way I’m living my life, so I want my spirit to embody Jesus, which means I’m humble, very humble, very wanting to learn along with students, being a learner with them. The biggest thing I want is to love the kids. I want to make sure that I’m someone they feel comfortable with. Since the short practicum, how I approach my work as a student is different. As a student, it is easy to procrastinate, which is a bad thing. This is still part of my mindset. With a job like teaching, you might be at the end of the year, your kids are finished but you’ve got so much still to do. I wonder how much time I’m going to actually have during the winter break to do art. I haven’t been doing a lot of art, just a lot of writing in my visual journal. My mother-in-law and father-in law bought me a movable easel for my birthday so I’m very excited about that. I have a sense that I’m going to be helping kids in their learning now and they can be the canvas, and I’m the paintbrush. I want to do art, but there’s so much other stuff happening. There’s work that needs to be done so I’m ready for the long practicum. It is hard to make sure that I’m the wife and have all the qualities, how do I say this, the ten most important things that a wife and husband need. I always want to make sure that I’m loving him, taking care of him and he would do the same with me. I’m very preoccupied because I’m a new wife too. I want to make sure I’m doing things for us, and making time for each other. I really feel it is important because I’m busy and he’s busy. During my two-week practicum it was really difficult. He had a really difficult week because he’s taking courses, his electives, and he experienced the all-night paper, along with a presentation and his thesis presentation the same weekend, and another paper, so 77 that was a hard week. At a certain point you don’t really know how to help any more and I’m sure he probably felt the same way with me and my practicum. We’re learning those ins and outs. I want to embody the pedagogical practices of a teacher so I’m working towards that and it is taking time. I think I take on too much sometimes. Our professors pump us up so much, saying, ‘You can do this.’ And I wonder, how am I going to do it? Schools aren’t always going to have the supplies you want to use, and if you want to have intense discussions with your students, you need to know them first before you can have those discussions. Say for instance, we were talking about Disney movies, are they good for your kids? I was a Disney kid so that was really hard for me! I don’t step on people’s toes, so even though I might think otherwise I really don’t say. I have my own opinions in class but I don’t share them because there was a very ‘for’ side and a very ‘against’ side and either way, if I said something, I was going to have to pick a side. So I kept quiet. I mean I have my own points and people were already commenting on that so I just stayed neutral. It could be great to talk about this in your classroom, why something is good to watch or why it is bad, but you can’t just go in there and put on a movie and say, ‘What do you think?’ Their minds aren’t as developed as mine so they’re going to have a different debate than in my university classroom, which was very heated. Sometimes kids don’t want to talk about public things, they want to keep to themselves, so how do you have a discussion then? A teacher has to be really careful about the debates you are going to have, or the art projects you are going to do. I’m also thinking about what my classroom would look like in the future. I’m doing a unit on spaces right now. We talked about this briefly in class and someone said they would like to have a couch in their classroom. So I was thinking about that all day and I think it is such a 78 great idea to have a couch in the art room. Could I have a Nintendo there to make it a more comfortable space? Does that cross the line? I know I’d be right there playing! The long practicum went really well For the first week of my long practicum, I was quite timid, and then one of my sponsor teachers said, ‘Even if you don’t feel confident, you need to give off the impression of being so, because the kids pick up on it and don’t behave.’ Boy is that true! The next lesson I was much stricter, and ended up having a wonderful discussion with my kids about colours and emotions. We moved into how the classroom feels with certain colours, what bedroom colours usually are, and we did colour theory, which is like the periodic table, perspective and tone and value are equations that students need. I asked everyone to participate, everyone paid attention, and there were some who had a great time! It was really neat to see immediate results. Students were thinking about concepts and then participating. I learned a few things about myself as a teacher. I can get very stressed out if I create unrealistic expectations but still expect to get them done. I’m not ready to improvise as of yet. And when kids don’t listen and wait time doesn’t work, what do I do? I really want my class to be organized, none of this papers everywhere or students not being able to find stuff. There were times I had to be quite strict with some of my students. All the teachers and advisors told me that they have to know who is the boss. One sponsor teacher said, ‘If a male teacher is strict or mean, the students respect him. If a woman is strict or mean, she is automatically a bitch.’ You need to be able to find a balance, so your students know when you mean business and when you are being a friend or confidante. During my practicum, I did see this strategy play out successfully. I also found that if I have a constructive criticism for a student’s work, if it is given on a more private level, with positive points to sandwich it, they are usually very receptive to 79 change. I had a student or two who didn’t want to be at school. Therefore they didn’t have anything to say to me, and constructive words, or encouragement seemed to fall on deaf ears. I believe a couple of times I received a smile, or a short ‘thanks,’ which was by far most rewarding. Because I’m young, I find it particularly easy to relate to students. For example, one group of students was talking about Nintendo and DDR, Dance Dance Revolution, and how it was so much fun. Well, my husband and I still play Nintendo and recently we bought ‘DDR.’ I felt however, that I should not engage in that conversation with students. I don’t know yet what constitutes boundaries or not, that would have been more friendship and less teacher. The other major difference was the amount of responsibility I had all of a sudden. I did a ‘concept of the day’ where I gave a small demo and answered questions, something I’ve just learned how to do. For the first half of the week I forgot to ask if there were any questions, and the kids just got right to work! My students had a passion for art, and their imaginations got to work very promptly. I did student self-evaluations every class so they told me what they liked and didn’t like about the lesson, and rating the class on a 1 to 5 scale, with 1 being worst and 5 being best. I got a lot of comments saying they just wanted to make art, however, I also got a lot of comments saying they really enjoyed the lessons. I find that those self-evaluations are one of the best ways to see if the students have engaged in learning, because their comments, short or lengthy, really gave me a sense of what they thought the lesson was about, and whether they liked it or not. I learned that attendance isn’t important to do right away. I like doing attendance once they’ve started work. Sometimes it’s good to do as a classroom management skill. In my own classroom, I think it would be nice to have sketchbook time every class for fifteen minutes. My teachers in high school did that for my Grade 11/12 years, and it always worked to get my creative juices going. They would give us a topic for the week, and we had to work on it all 80 week long. My sponsor teachers don’t do this for their own reasons. Sometimes, I’m finding that it’s okay to just make an announcement about what the day is for, catch up, work period, etcetera, and then after half the class, do a short demo, so if the students are finished, or need some new thoughts, that shakes things up so to speak. I try very hard to shape my questions so that I encourage upper level thinking. I’m not sure how successful I am at that yet, but it is usually in the back of my mind. I know that in the objectives for each day, in terms of creating/communicating or perceiving/responding, they are working towards upper level thinking activities such as creating their own ideas. I also encourage upper level thinking through my self-evaluations. I usually encourage students as I walk around, but if I see a problem, I ask them if I can give them a suggestion. Really, if they don’t want to accept what I have to say, I’m wasting my time as well as theirs. Many of the students will ask me what I think, which is an open door for me to then ask them, ‘Well, what do you think? Are you happy with your current outcome? Where do you think some trouble areas might be?’ Now that I know most of the kids by name, I can have a bit of a conversation with them, and that makes a world of difference. My comments now have some validity to them, they know I know what I’m talking about. They produce amazing work! I think getting into a routine is also a big part of this job. You have to know where you’re at, what you’re marking, what you’re teaching next, and you need to be organized! I’ve tried really hard to be organized, but there are always things you can do better. With my faculty advisor, we often talk about classroom management, since that is one area I’m having trouble with. In one class, I barely had control of the students the whole time, but it was a GREAT learning experience for me. It gave me the opportunity to talk over classroom management with all three of my sponsor teachers, and think about it myself. The next lesson I implemented their suggestions and the results were amazing. It felt good to be in control, not like a dictator, but 81 authoritatively, and have the students listen when I talked, and vice versa. The tone and the atmosphere of the class changed for the better. I think a good teacher evaluates fairly, relates well with kids, turns kids on to learning, is flexible, provides ways for success and management, knows there is more than one learning style, doesn’t show stage fright, has compassion and cares. I’m just starting a new unit plan with my Grade 8’s, and I did a small lecture on art history using classical, renaissance, ready-made and cubist references, showing the students the idea of shape, how it works in a composition, how shapes are used to build bodies and how the master painters have done this. The Last Supper is so wonderful for this! Anyways, the students were all very engrossed in the lesson, and I think they all really enjoyed it. I think it’s important to fix the concept or technique within them, so that they can ‘break the rules’ so to speak. After they have mastered the technique they are learning, the final project is their time to shine. Although there are guidelines such as use two of the four techniques we’ve been learning about, or neatness, or whatever, they can still create their own project, and I get the opportunity to watch them work. I find it very helpful to have students write an artist statement after large projects. My Grade 8’s just wrote an artist statement on shoe transformations, but they had to write a story about how their shoe was transformed, where it was born, what did it do, almost as if the shoe was magic. They loved it! I think that developing the students’ skills in art is one of the most important things an art teacher teaches. I teach in small lessons, usually no longer than ten minutes, and then I give them activities that I hope they find fun and that helps them practice. My private life affected my practicum in positive ways. My husband keeps me upbeat more than I realize. My husband is extremely positive and supportive about my experiences and often offered helpful suggestions or read over my ideas. When I stayed late, or had homework prep for the next day, he understood and helped where he could. He asked me to be finished by 82 9 p.m. every night so we could have time together. Although hard to do at first, this helped me learn how to time manage quite effectively. I was motivated to finish before that time. It helped me stay on task, to get done what was necessary for the next day, not necessarily the next week. Weekends were a good time for me to prep a bit extra for the coming week. If I was diligent, I could plan up to Wednesday, which then helped free up time during the week. I wouldn’t say that there weren’t stressful nights. My sleep patterns changed, thus my husband’s sleeping patterns changed. We were up at 7 a.m. He had to deal with a tired and sometimes grumpy wife if I didn’t get to bed on time. I would have to argue that my practicum was probably one of the best experiences I’ve had. I had a fantastic time. The long practicum went really well. The weeks went by so fast and it was so much fun. I had great sponsor teachers, a wonderful, helpful faculty advisor and great kids, not to mention a supportive husband, family and God! My practicum was a very caring experience. My sponsor teachers were there to help me and encouragement was given far more often than criticism, and we were often in collaboration. I wasn’t kept sitting on a problem. Of course, I tried very hard to make this atmosphere work as well. I tried to be as flexible as possible. I asked opinions and advice of my teachers rather than going on my own opinions, and part of my final evaluation took this into account. I participated a great deal in the life of the school, in clubs, attending meetings and more. I got along well with the school staff and I thoroughly enjoyed the kids and my classes. I liked feeling that I was the facilitator, that students were learning things I was teaching, and seeing process and product. Each day was different and exciting. One of my teachers wanted to team-teach with me through the entirety of my time there, which helped with the rough patches since she did most of the disciplining. The other two left me to my own devices, which allowed me to expand on my understanding of teaching. It was a lot of work being the teacher! Just recently, my sponsor teacher who is 83 retiring allowed me to go through all her lesson plans and take what I wanted, and she sold some of her art books to me at a fantastic price. I was really excited. As well, she and I have kept in touch by e-mail and she has let me know that if I ever need ideas or help or advice, or just someone to talk to, she’d love to keep in touch. I’m very lucky. Now my husband is looking into education as a profession. There’s a new bridge to cross I’m feeling very happy to be done for lots of reasons. It has been such a long year and not having a summer has been really hard especially seeing everyone else do whatever they like. Now it feels as though there’s a new bridge to cross. I’m finished the program and I have a long- term job, something I’ve never had before, something I’ve always wanted. But between the end of school and starting a job, there is no time. I have my week of holidays and then I have two weeks to get ready for a job. Two weeks is not a lot of time. I’m feeling a bit burnt out. I’m looking forward to doing nothing for a day or two. I have new fears arising, as fast as the excitement! I do know however that I have much more confidence and it won’t be so hard as beginning the first practicum. I now have resources and contacts and I have learned how to be flexible with what comes my way. I feel as though I have grown significantly in this moment of being student, versus now being teacher. It is a very new feeling. Thinking back to the actual job interview, I did feel comfortable in the space, and I felt that I was a qualified individual for the job at hand. As a teacher of art I hope to inspire creativity and a love of learning during my lessons. I will encourage student participation as much as possible and set reachable objectives that hopefully will be interesting to my students. I feel very passionate about what I teach. With a new class, sometimes it is important to be a bit strict, but encouraging students to ask questions 84 is good. I love to walk around and compliment students on their work. I find it gives me a bit of a personal connection with them. They like to talk about what they are doing, and the majority of the time, conversations lead to life outside of the classroom. Once I have my own classroom, I would hope to do more group assignments to encourage student relationships. I would move kids periodically to also help relationships develop and I believe more importantly, I would like to develop a sense of respect for everyone and every artwork produced. One of my sponsor teachers did ‘walk abouts’ which I believe was good for students, to see each other’s work as well as learn different styles. Organizing the classroom as a gallery space would also help create a community of practice. I talked to the director of the school and the art teacher that I will be working with, and they are both lovely people. I’m really excited. It is going to be a great working atmosphere. I feel there are a lot of expectations. I think the expectations are coming in little increments, and I’m only beginning to understand what sort of a school it is. It’s not just practicum anymore. I really have to be good at what I’m doing now. When I talked to the director, we talked about parents a little bit. I had read in their magazine about students who were in major productions internationally, and their parents are CEOs. The director said, ‘Well you have to remember that when the parents come to the school, they are the mom or the dad.’ But it is still pretty intimidating. One of the reasons I want to go into the independent school system is because I want the parent involvement. I find that so important and lacking in public schools. So I’m excited about this! The other teacher is also really friendly and they are going to buddy-me-up so that I have a mentor. The first day of school is a big Pro-D day for us to get to know each other and figure out how the school works, and the more I thought about it, the better off I am having a smaller position because I get to learn it. I’m looking forward to concentrating on four classes a week, 85 doing them well, and building on what I know. I’m pretty excited but at the same time I don’t want this to go to my head either. It’s great to have a position in that school but I don’t want it to become, ‘I work here,’ you know? I think that could be so detrimental. I went into an independent school for certain reasons, but it wasn’t to become better than people, and stereotypes get pushed onto people all the time, so I don’t want people to look at me that way. I told two people in the cohort about the job, just out of pure excitement, but I found out later, one of them had failed and the other person hasn’t been hired at all. So then I felt bad afterwards but they were excited for me that I had a job. I realize I’m pretty lucky. After coming back to the cohort for the final term, I found that I had been particularly fortunate in my experience on the practicum too. Many of my classmates had horrible experiences far beyond what I think is fair or professional. I had it really good, and I consequently felt bad talking about my experiences. This reminds me of my friend who has been a teacher for about five years now. I have talked to her and it was so funny, she said, ‘Doesn’t it feel great when you know you’re supposed to be a teacher? It’s exactly where you want to be and everyday is a great day.’ I mean, obviously there are mistakes, but you learn, and it’s exactly where you’re supposed to be. It is just fantastic! I remember when she went through her education program and some of the things she said then have really resonated with me since, about the idea that not everyone is going to make it, and hearing about people in her program that were just not cut out for it. It is funny now to start thinking about that and to see the parallels. On my practicum I was removed from the rest because I didn’t have an art specialist, I had a generalist faculty advisor. When everyone got back, no one wanted to talk about anything. It was just, ‘How was your practicum? Good. And how was yours? Good.’ It is only in this last term that people have started coming out and saying, actually it wasn’t that good, or they 86 didn’t do so well. Somehow we talk. I know that support and sympathy is needed, and I think I do sometimes exhibit those traits and people see that. Our final day in the program was anti-climatic. We were done and that was it. Because we were a cohort for so long, it felt weird that the actual last day was last term. This term we weren’t all in the same class, so it wasn’t a good bye. There was no final ‘See you around!’ Certain people had parties and some people were left out of that too, and me being one of the people, I never really made really good friends with anybody. I was on good terms with everybody. So I was a floater. We are now all doing our own thing, and people are going to get jobs and people are going to move. Some people are going to have kids. So I don’t feel a particular landmark I guess, it is not ‘The End.’ There are these group e-mails, ‘Oh it’s all over, it is so sad.’ And I think, ‘Oh great, another sappy e-mail to read!’ I’m more focused on jobs. The end for me was more at the end of the practicum. I became much better friends with the group that was at my school and I think because it was such a different way of learning than in the university classroom, we were all learning to be teachers together. There were a couple of people there that I will keep in contact with and see how they’re doing and I know they’ve got jobs. What you have done this year, and how hard you have worked is now showing and I guess it depends on how much you wanted it. How does my dad say it, ‘If you fail to plan then you plan to fail.’ In the last term of this program, I discovered even further that I hate conceptual art. It is so academic and it is so exclusive. No one can understand it. I really don’t like it. And if I want to make an art piece during one of my courses, it had to be conceptual, and that was a second frustration for me. I can’t make art and I’m in the art program! Conceptual ideas do not come easily to me. I like a painting because it looks nice! When I think about art, my motto should come from that movie, You’ve Got Mail. It has to start by being personal. I make art for myself 87 but if I want to make it for a viewer or an audience, I will make it for a viewer or an audience. It also creates a conflict for me because it’s one thing to teach identity and whatever you like in high school but how does that prepare students for university art? I find that really frustrating. I will be teaching Grades 6 and 7, so I don’t have to be worried about that until next year, but if I’m going to teach those grades later on, in order to keep students in the loop and help them move forward, I’ll have to teach conceptual art, but that is not why people go into art usually. It’s not to be part of this elite group. It’s because they enjoy expressing themselves in a different way. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with art being narrative! I’m asking myself some life questions now. I’m really happy the program is done but I’m not coming back to university unless I choose to do so later on. If I were to do a Master’s, I would do it in art evaluation. I’m starting what I want to do for the rest of my life. I hope it is going to be everything that I wanted it to be. I know one of my friends and I have often talked about how you grow up a lot when you start your job. So I wonder how much I’m going to change now. I love art and I believe this comes through in my teaching and I’ll benefit from teaching this subject as will my students. I will learn new things everyday. I teach to the kid’s freedom of expression. The teacher education program has stretched and moulded me in ways I could not have imagined. I have walked, crawled, and run over many bridges in the process of learning what it means to be a teacher. As a teacher, I am building my own bridge of student and personal success. Every student cannot be reached, but it is my responsibility as a teacher to try. My experiences on practicum have already started this bridge. I am often frightened by bridges, and this one I am about to build is no different. I believe though that I will build self-confidence with each experience. One of the greatest things about becoming a teacher is the fact that I will be a lifelong learner and that is exciting to me. My bridge will never finish, so mistakes and 88 experiences will only make my journey more interesting. I accept this opportunity with vigour and excitement. Let the building begin! 89 Ann’s story: I grew up on land on the Nechako River D 90 It runs in my blood I love art and it is the only thing I can see myself doing for the rest of my life. I’ve always had a big interest in education programs and education in general, and I would like to make some big changes, where it lacks and where it is strong. It runs in my blood. I have lots of family working in the education system. My whole family is very artistic as well. I have two aunts who are teachers, another is an administrator, some cousins in teacher training and my mom was a teacher’s assistant and First Nations counsellor-type person, but I came here for my own reasons. I think I would like to see more diverse teachers because I remember going through school and it was all European descent and everybody taught and thought the same way and I got really bored with it. The only people of cultural or ethnic diversity were working as First Nations coordinators, counsellors or in alternative education. I thought I was going to have to jump through the hoops here. I thought I’d have to conform to the traditional teaching methods, but those are sort of starting to go out the window. I was hoping to get rid of them in my own fashion, as I teach. I thought I would have to just get through this school and pretend to do what they want me to do, and then do my own thing, but it seems it is starting in the right direction. The constructivist methods of teaching are totally in line with what I am thinking. I thought I was going to have to hide that part of me, so it’s great. It always seemed like with the teachers, even the ones I had at university, this is the way it’s done, you do it this way, very sequential. I liked my art classes in high school, and that inspired me to be a teacher because it was more random and fun. I could be myself and explore my own interests. It was a break from everything else, like those academic courses that focus on memorization. Even some of those teachers inspired me. I had a science teacher who would randomly do crazy things and it kept us interested, rather than just learning through blah, blah, 91 blah, and write, write, write, which is really boring. I want to change that and make the school more interesting for people. I like teachers that are like that. I decided to become an art teacher for so many reasons, but the main reasons are that I see the potential of the art classroom in including and educating students in all areas of life from history to science, architecture, design, human studies, and the list goes on. I see the art class as a great place for students to find themselves and their place in this world. I also have a passion for creating art and learning from art. On a more personal ground, I am a member of the Lheidli T’enneh band. I grew up on some land on the side of the Nechako River just out of the city limits. Here I developed a close relationship with the natural world, which greatly informs my art practice and worldview. When I went to public school, I was always striving to be the top of the class. I was always in the top 5% or 10%, and if my marks went down it bothered me. I wasn’t quite the teacher’s pet. I was the one that would sit quietly, do my homework and try to get it done before class was finished because I didn’t like homework. I had other things to do! I was a pretty quiet student. I took Toastmasters a couple of times. I was always considered the observer-type learner. There was a year, around Grade 9, that I went off the deep end. I got really bored with school. It was the same thing every year. We were learning the same things. I thought, why even bother? I’m not learning anything, it’s so repetitive and if I get my homework done before the class is even over, am I really learning anything? So I had a hard time with that, with the classes, and being motivated to go there. And then, I don’t know, I started doing drugs for about a year and stopped, I don’t know what it was, I started skipping classes. I thought, I’m not learning anything anyways, I’m not missing anything. I was still going to pass the tests and I was able to keep up with the class when I got back. I managed to keep my grades up to a decent ‘B’ for a long time. I went through a period where I started doing drugs really heavily and didn’t 92 go at all, and my grades went down. I still did homework and still got the tests done, but that was minimal, and my grades went down just because the teachers decided I wasn’t taking it seriously. So when my grades went down deep, it knocked me back, and it worked. My grades went from an ‘A’ to a ‘C,’ and bam, I was back at school again. There was always high stress in my family as well. Maybe I put more pressure on myself than anybody else. I grew up in an all white family. My sisters and I are the only Natives or persons of non-European decent. We didn’t know any of our Native half, only the French-Italian half, and they are all really high academics and we always felt like they look down on us. My mom’s half, the Native half, they all grew up in really small communities and most of them got into the drugs and alcohol and just can’t seem to come out of it. So I’m actually kind of grateful that I wasn’t in contact with them all the time. I have a feeling it would’ve been a bad influence. But also now, I’m starting to feel my place in the world more. There was a moment when I realized I’m different and that’s why the family treated me so, and then once I realized how different I was, it made me really insecure for a long time. So I just try to stick to myself and try to do my best to prove everyone wrong about what they thought about me, and little things that happened, that probably had nothing to do with the fact that I was Native, that’s because of this or that. When I thought about getting into the teaching program, one of my main reasons was that the only First Nations people employed in the education system were always in counselling or First Nations studies, never in an administrative position, and that bothered me. I thought, you know, we can do more than that and we are needed in more places than that. We need First Nations people teaching history because history is not told properly and we need them to teach everything else, so that we can prove that we can do it, and to influence First Nations students who want to do those things. We can teach things in different ways that make things connect. 93 It’s one of my main goals. I want to try and inspire people to expand their horizons. When I was in school, there were a lot of First Nations people who would say, ‘I can work in the mill after, nobody’s going to hire me anyways so why should I bother.’ It is pretty bad. It is true in a lot of cases that people are not hired because of their race or appearance. I remember I went home for Christmas and I went into a store to buy some art supplies. I found what I was looking for and then someone asked me to empty my pockets. I was just shocked. I replied, ‘Seriously? OK.’ I was a little embarrassed and shocked, and I thought, ‘What the hell!’ So I emptied my pockets and I was really embarrassed. She said, ‘Okay, sorry, I just had to ask because I thought I saw you stealing.’ So I left the store really mad. I ended up having to go back because it was the only store that had what I needed in town. I was biting my tongue when I went back, thinking I should be talking to the supervisor but I thought, you know, it really wouldn’t go that far. I know, honestly, that’s as far as it is going to go. It’s just common around here. That is when I realized that how I dress and how I act makes a big difference in how people treat me, which is really sad. I started playing with my image for a while, sometimes I dress down just to test people. I want to wear whatever I want, but then I realize how much a public image you are in teaching. Now I’ve started feeling I’m like a teacher, I am more aware of how people perceive me, even my own friends, instructors, family. It doesn’t matter what situation you’re in, dress makes a difference. I have always had the impression that if I was to ever lose a sense, I would rather lose sight. I wish everybody else would too. We rely on eyesight too much and make assumptions from it. I would still be an artist and still trying to be an art teacher even if I was blind! When I went to art school, I tried a little of everything because I wanted to be a teacher, so I wanted to know as much as I could, planning to teach those methods. Not many people did that actually. In art school, we were expected to develop our own style and in the end, I did have 94 my own style. I thought all my work was really random, but after looking back on four years of work, a lot of it is connected in concepts or themes or styles. I don’t like my style, but it is my style, so I go with it. At first, I did a lot of landscape painting because I missed home. But such paintings weren’t highly regarded because landscape painting is dead in a conceptual art school. It is all concepts and nothing else. I could have been developing my skills with landscape art but we had this other stuff, so I learned how to BS my way through it to make things I wanted into conceptual pieces, which is all different points of view and seeing things differently. I just decided to start exploring other things and fine, if you are going to be conceptual, I’m not going to pass, so what do I need to do to get the grades. It was all jumping through those hoops, but that’s what you expect with an education built that way. I want to be the kind of teacher that totally relates to the kids. I’m not going to be that old teacher telling you what to do and where to go while you’re sitting there beating your head against the wall waiting for the class to end. I’m hoping to be that fun teacher. And I’m sure it’s going to take a while to be what I want to be. It’s just not my natural self, humorous and flamboyant, so I got to try to work on those traits. I’m just seeing things in teachers that I love, and I want to try to be more like the teachers that I like. I do want to touch on the conceptual aspects of art for sure but I don’t want that to be the only theme in high school, it’s just too much for high school students to have to learn. They should try to understand it, but it should not be pressured onto them to create it all the time. I like focusing on art more as a personal thing, and if you do art for therapy, for yourself, or just for the enjoyment, for the aesthetic, or if you do it to sell it, you can focus on what you want to focus on. Art doesn’t have to be one certain thing. I was excited to get into this program, very excited, because I love to learn things. I feel I can learn much more than in my previous degree in art. I’m learning about education and people, I’m taking courses on adolescents, special needs and stuff like that, so I’m hoping to 95 learn a lot. I was excited, but I was scared, a big school, compared to my old one, and new people. I was afraid of taking seven courses, how was I ever going to do this when I’ve done five courses tops, and they were pretty slack. Most of my family and friends, they were excited. They knew I had planned this out for a few years now. This is what I was going to do. Everybody said, ‘You are going to be a great teacher!’ And I thought wow, that’s so encouraging. People think highly of me and my abilities to teach and that kept me going. I didn’t really express too much to too many people. A lot of my family still don’t really know what I’m doing. My sister got married this summer and that was a good time, when socializing, I told quite a few people then but I didn’t really broadcast it. I would rather them hear about my accomplishments than create expectations. I was already nervous before I arrived at university. I was overwhelmed looking at the amount of work. I didn’t know what to expect. I was very apprehensive, especially when the courses became confusing. Some courses were split between two days, and the art cohort has three core classes with three different instructors that teach four days of the week. But coming back to school wasn’t too bad because I was very familiar with the city. It would have been worse if I hadn’t been here before. On the first day we met the cohort. I walked into class and I was amazed because there were five familiar faces. I wasn’t with a bunch of strangers so it put me at ease a little bit because then I wouldn’t have to push myself so hard to socialize with people I don’t know. So I think we all felt comfortable with the familiar faces in the classroom and from there it is easy to socialize, we had things in common, we talked about what different experiences we had. The first day wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t till the end of the first week that I started to freak out. It was the handouts. There were piles and piles of handouts and assignments. It’s hard to organize what we’re supposed to have for each day and who’s going to be there. I understand it now, but 96 it was very confusing for those four days. I think I freaked out a few times and well, I broke down and cried a couple of times, thinking, is this what I’ve paid for? I tried to figure out how to organize all these binders, all the different classes. I’ve been getting a lot of headaches lately from the stress and the confusion. It also probably has to do with health issues, like not eating well, not getting enough sleep and trying to balance academics with personal life. I feel guilty for doing something that’s not school! I shouldn’t be doing this! It is such a big headache and there is not enough time to do everything. I don’t even know how I make it to all of my classes. I had a really hard time the first week getting up. There is no time for groceries, cooking, eating, sleeping. I just find it amazing how people’s mindsets here are so different from mine. There’s no way, even when I’ve tried in several different ways to explain things, for them to get it. In my courses, I see how people are marking my stuff, not marking it, but look at what I say, and they don’t really understand what I’m saying. It’s kind of difficult dealing with that sort of situation. I’m not sure, I’m considering talking to some of the instructors, and explain to them, maybe they’ll understand me more if they know more about my history, because a lot of them just assume that I’m from here, that I grew up in the city, and even the assumption that I’m going to do my practicum here. Because I’m going far away, my experience will be totally different, and they are offering all these resources, but I’m not here to have access to them. I’ll be so far away. It’s interesting, some of things they say and I realize that it doesn’t apply to me, so how can I make it apply? I’m enjoying learning all the skills I’m learning from the instructors. There are certain instructors that are teaching me how to teach, which is really great. My cousin, who is also in the teacher education program at this university, told me she doesn’t know how to teach yet, so I’m getting all this knowledge about this and that. Actually, we’re overloaded with strategies! It is so much to take in. It is hard. I’m afraid I’ll forget a lot of it when the pressure 97 is on, the next few months, just time management, health. I don’t know how to deal with a classroom at this point. At first, I didn’t think I could relate to young kids, although I’m starting to question that now. Then I thought, secondary students are older than me in some ways, and they know more than me, and what am I going to do? And knowing how to deal with all the crazy situations that could come up and learn how to better myself in those situations. If I were to go into a class right now, I don’t know if I could do it. I was considering, finding out how demanding teaching is, I want to put everything I can into it. It might be possible that I just want to be a part-time teacher. I just felt like I was going to a residential school or something We went on a field visit to a high school. It was super crowded. I didn’t expect to feel that crowded. The classrooms were too small, it didn’t really seem too organized, and there was a bunch of clutter on the walls and stuff they don’t even use. I just felt it was too cluttered and especially with all the kids sitting there, nobody can move around. They didn’t even have room do their work. They were sitting on top of each other and with one piece of paper in front of them and they need more than that, they have all these materials, and books and backpacks and stuff. It was impossible. I’m really hoping that my classrooms aren’t going to be like but I’m pretty sure they will be. We were observing in groups of six. It was insane. I noticed there was a lack of attention for people with disabilities, the girl in the wheelchair, I felt really bad for her. She could not even see the demonstration that was going on because the tables were too high. I talked to her a bit and I didn’t really go into her disability or how she feels about it, I just helped her with the assignment. She didn’t know what was going on, there needed to be a better way of facilitating. Nobody talked to her. I felt so bad. She was already apart from the other students and none of us were going there, which was amazing. I was just amazed. That was the worst 98 thing I ever saw in a class. I felt so bad, but I helped her. I’m sure every classroom is different but it was embarrassing for her not really knowing what was going on, and how many times has that happened, how many classrooms? Everything was so narrow for us, so imagine someone in a wheelchair in there. During this experience I actually expected myself to be able to engage in conversation with students more easily, but it was actually pretty hard. I didn’t know what to start with. I didn’t know what to say to them and I think that’s mostly because I didn’t know them at all. When you start knowing people, you know what they’re interested in and create better dialogue that way. I was afraid. I was really afraid, intimidated by the classrooms when I first went there, but the students, the kids started doing work and we started socializing with them and stuff, and all my fears went ‘swoosh.’ It’s not that bad, they aren’t these big scary high school kids, they’re all kind of small and pretty nice. I guess I expected it to be quite intimidating an experience and really crazy and chaotic and actually it was, but I felt when I was there, it was good chaos, they were doing stuff. I always thought, you know, when that happens, how am I going to get control back? But there’s some good methods used there that I picked up. I just hope that because of my age that they’ll take me seriously, that’s my biggest fear, that I’ll go into a class and they’ll say, ‘You’re not much older than me! Who are you to tell me what to do?’ We had a presentation last week in the large lecture hall. Oh man! It was horrible. Everybody left just devastated. It involved students and teachers from a high school. Those kids came in more like teachers and a lot of people felt like they were talking down to us. They focused too much on appearance. How is that going to affect our teaching? Is our teaching going to be more effective if we dress properly? Or if we look proper? I don’t think so. You know, they’re saying we should wear business attire. We thought it was very Eurocentric. They 99 were all whites and most of them are all, well I guess, they came from upper-class families. Three students seemed to be keeners in the class, where as we would have liked some input on how to deal with the hard kids and see what they expected from us. I mean, we know how to deal with the girls and the boys that are going to be good, we need to know how to deal with those that are going to be a problem. I think it was a general consensus that nobody really liked it. We really didn’t get anything from it, just feeling bad about ourselves and that we’re not good enough. The two or three days that followed, we were all uneasy, and it would come up in general conversation in class, and someone would say something that related to the presentation. It happened in every class. In some classes, the instructors asked what we thought. We were trying to be nice, but after letting it sink in, that really wasn’t a very good experience for me, I didn’t like it at all. Nobody really did. They had ten do’s and ten don’ts. So the ten don’ts: don’t be lazy, don’t be late, or unorganized, don’t be inconsistent, don’t pretend to be your student’s friend or their age, which really blew us away. Why would we pretend to be their friends? We’re not supposed to be friends with them. Don’t take an unreasonable amount of time to mark, which made sense. Don’t use sarcasm, don’t give too much homework, don’t say just because, don’t think everyone loves and understands the subject you are teaching, don’t bring emotional baggage or use pressure or intimidation. There were two teachers at the presentation. One seemed sort of artsy, she teaches English, and the other said, ‘I don’t tell my students anything about my personal life. I don’t tell them my first name, I don’t tell them if I am married, if I have kids, where I live, anything, they don’t know anything about me, and that’s the way it is.’ She was like the school master type. It was scary. She was really scary and they actually like that type of person! They’ve been conditioned to it since Grade 1, so it works for them, but how many of us are going to be in schools like that? 100 I thought it was ridiculous. Sometimes the best way to get to know people is to be friendly and honest, students need to know you are human too. It is respect both ways, we’re all people. If you are just going to be a drill sergeant, I don’t know. The do’s were: Be energetic and dynamic, give encouragement, be prepared, be friendly and approachable. OK. For appearance, look put together, admit when you’re wrong, have a sense of humour, earn respect, be adaptable, care and show it, be passionate, which is kind of contradictory. They went off on a big long tangent on how important it is that we look professional. First impressions and if you come in looking any less they won’t take you seriously, blah, blah, blah. It was just amazing. The way they were talking to us, putting us in our place, they were telling us what to do when they should have been giving us suggestions rather than do this, do that, and don’t do that. But they were really articulate, they were standing up there giving us a presentation and it was way better than any presentation I could possibly do in my life. If I could do half as good as these kids are doing! It was intimidating, the way they could stand up in front of this university group, no matter how many people were there. Well, I went out shopping. Even before that presentation, our instructors were saying it’s really important that you look professional. This is really tough for me because I’m an art person and my art teachers didn’t look professional, they sort of did, but not really. I mean, you always just knew who the art teacher was. It’s totally different being a math teacher or an English teacher which would make a little bit more sense dressing up. I bought a pair of shoes because I’ve got runners, and leather boots, and stuff like that. I went to Value Village and The Salvation Army. I have a few friends that have gotten too big for their clothes, they gave me some blouses and a button-up shirt, and then I had to go bra shopping which I thought, ‘Oh great, this is going to be fun!’ I hate shopping, but you have to wear a bra under a white shirt. I bought a jacket, an overcoat jacket, a couple of skirts, so that was fine. I already have some black skirts that look 101 good, but I got some colourful skirts and different ones. Everyone’s going shopping, unless they’ve already got professional clothes. But what if you don’t want to? Can’t you just be yourself? No, they’re looking for drone teachers. I’m in transition I guess. I’m trying to be myself but it’s hard to mix the two. I’m realizing how public we are in a teaching position. I have to go get some new clothes and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I’ll get clothes that I can wear, and that are not promoting a certain kind of person, but clothes that reflect me. We had another field visit, and at that school, everybody, the teachers, the principal, the students, they were all in black, gray or white. I just felt like I was going to a residential school or something. I don’t think it’s a very good example of what we’ll experience as teachers. It might be a good example for people who are just going to those schools but not many will have that option. Going there made me realize that those people are already conditioned to certain behaviours, so you’re not going to see them do anything else. I felt there weren’t very many minorities, there weren’t that many lower-class people in either school on our field visits. It would be totally different if we were to actually go to a school downtown, which I think we would totally gain something from. It would be much more beneficial. I’ve been thinking, maybe I should actually write them a letter and say that next year, I’d suggest a presentation by members from three different schools. What about the troubled students, what do they have to say? It will be interesting when we all get back after our short practicum and share our experiences. I’m actually fearing being placed in one school, I just don’t want to be there. But I figure, if I end up getting placed there, it’ll be a good challenge and maybe it’ll break down whatever it is that is making me not want to be there. The practicum is coming so soon. I guess I’m still worried mostly about the practicum, and the workload. I’m afraid if I do my practicum 102 at that school, I’ll make all sorts of mistakes and what if I really screw up? Then I’ll have to leave home, I’ll have to move somewhere else. I’ve always been an activist-type person The first day of practicum was overwhelming. This was my experience: As soon as I walked in the door the teachers were like, ‘You are going to be doing this, and this is what you are going to do, to find this you go here and blah, blah, blah, blah.’ In the end I just felt like it all went over my head. It was fine once we started to get to know each other. I was split between two teachers and I went between two classes, spending two classes with one and two classes with the other, no break between. I really liked it because they were two completely different teachers from each other and I got to see their different ways of doing things. I’m not sure if I had Grade 8, but I know I had Grade 9, 10, 11, 12. One of the classes was a Grade 11/12 3-D art class, very self-directed, and the kids were there because they wanted to be there. They were coming up with very creative things. It was pretty open, they used various media. The other class was where they just stuck all the students that they couldn’t find a place for. It was all Grade 10’s. The class consisted of mostly special needs students and behavioural problem students. It was most teachers’ worst nightmare, but they weren’t that bad, all kids aren’t that bad. It was pretty crazy. I ended up teaching that class for the full week so I learned a lot from doing it. I don’t know if they had as much fun as me! I was told by the faculty advisor after she had observed a few classes that last year a student-teacher failed because she couldn’t handle a class like that, she freaked out and just ran off crying. The only thing that didn’t work for me was having to overcome the students’ idea that I’m not their teacher. I diffused the situation by not letting them convince me that I don’t have the power of the teacher, cause I did really, that’s why I was there, more of a sub than a student. 103 That was the only thing that kept me going over their malicious attacks within the classroom structure. They were just testing anyway. I don’t start yelling or raising my voice. I tried to keep it short and sweet. One of the biggest things I learned was that I can’t expect or assume my students can read. I was trying to get them to be engaged by reading, but a few of them had a really hard time. This poor kid was stuttering, and I thought, ‘Oh no! I shouldn’t have done that.’ The short practicum made me think, maybe I won’t teach full-time. I would not have so many time management problems and more time for myself, a better balance. A typical schedule only has one spare block, but I didn’t really have a spare block when I was observing and I was running around and I couldn’t do that all the time. My sponsor teacher taught four blocks, and next term she’s doing two. I don’t know how she did it, she’s got kids. I wouldn’t want to have kids and teach full time, it just isn’t going to happen! It’s really hard to teach full-time in art. There is only one full-time art teacher in the district, the rest are sporadic, getting an art course here and there, so I have a feeling it will work out that way. I would prefer to stick with the art, only if I’m able to teach it the way I want to, because it is most important to me to try to teach a lot of subjects through art. I’ve considered teaching art history and even social studies and English because they all link to art. Looking back, I thought teaching was a lot harder, to stand up in front of the classroom. Maybe it’s because the class I had seemed so young, it was very comfortable for me. I also didn’t realize that students are so used to having a power structure, even the ones that challenge it. It was really hard in one of the art classes to hear that the students were not going to be able to do a project if they didn’t pay their fee, which was an extra fee the school was not supposed to have, but the teacher decided to put it in place. She said that their artwork, which was clay, would be recycled when they were done if they didn’t pay. I was really concerned 104 about it. I mentioned it a few times and I think that really affected the teacher, who decided in the end to drop the fee. Only five of thirty students paid. I said, ‘How are they going to be motivated to do the project if it’s just going to be destroyed in the end and what do you guys do for students who can’t afford to pay this extra fee?’ And the response was there’s nothing they could do. In the end she decided that because they had a little bit of extra overhead from last year, she would put that aside. She used it as a power thing over them to pay if they could, but I think at an earlier point she should have mentioned, if you can’t pay, you get to keep it anyways. I saw a lot of them just not doing it because it was going to be destroyed and I couldn’t tell them that she changed her mind, that was her decision, so I just said, ‘Come on, do a good job.’ I wouldn’t do that to students. I would find some way to fundraise or something because I saw how it affected them. There were a lot of little things, like in the photography class, the teacher would make them draw cameras instead of taking pictures, if they couldn’t afford the film and developer and stuff. So it was absolutely ridiculous. It was such old school stuff. It is very discouraging when you’re actually out there, and people start hating you for stepping on their toes all the time. I felt like I couldn’t say anything during some conversations. I do feel that we should have had a little more time to sit and observe and not have to worry about doing things and writing things, and juggling a million things at once, which is what ended up happening. It’s frustrating though because I have so many ideas of where I should be and the things I should change. There’s so much I want to do in life. I guess I’ve always been an activist-type person. I want to do things but I feel like there’s a barrier between knowing it all and doing it all, and I don’t know how to get between the two. 105 I found myself in a place I visited often I’ve been thinking about the role of the student in the role of the teacher. This is probably the last time I’m going to be able to be the student, I’ll probably go to school again but not like this. I see myself as equal to all around me, staff, students, administrators. I reluctantly use my power, position and authority as the teacher to meet the requirements of the Ministry of Education. I try to fit in, blend in, until I can have the freedom of my own class where things will be different, where I will work towards creating a learning environment where there is less authority and more learning. But I feel, know and internalize the struggle. To undo what has been done, the conditioning of the students, and myself in my K-12 education and in my post secondary and teacher education, and in society as a whole, is going to be the biggest struggle ever. I feel like I work alone, like I am trying to put out a grass fire in the field with the wind working against me in every direction. I see being an artist coming out more in the role I play of being a teacher than student. I’m coming from an academic perspective, not getting anything done, and even the things I am getting done aren’t of great quality, like my ceramics. I’m working more textually than visually lately. My hands and body feel so distant from creation. My role as an artist has transformed from what it was, or more like, the role has evolved in a way. It was about creation before and it moved towards sending a message, but that message I know did not reach many, so now teaching has become my paintbrush and it paints the faces of hopefully many more warriors than it would have on the canvas. Sometimes what I read or learn not only makes sense but really excites me and relates to my own life, the life of others around me and my beliefs about what education should be about. For the most part, I embody the wonderful teaching strategies and ideas that pop up along the way. Strategies and ideas that are fun, inclusive, inspiring, engaging and educational. Classes 106 on multiculturalism or antiracism, or gender roles and stuff like that really spark my thinking. With any of these issues, you want to be ethical and moral, but you don’t want to impose it on other people, so if you promote multiculturalism and the acceptance of other people, and some cultures don’t accept people who are gay, what then? Being First Nations, these issues are very important and the reason why I’m here. I saw a need for it and felt a need for it. In my family, we were distanced from the negative, the downside of First Nations life. We didn’t live on the reserve, we didn’t develop the social language. I think it impaired our social abilities at first and it took a long time to regain that. We also didn’t get the mainstream culture, we didn’t have TV, and I think that really helped finding out who we are. These social issues have me thinking outside of my perspective, and also thinking of the struggles between social issues. Sometimes the questions seem to have obvious answers but when we dig deeper, consider it from a different point of view, not just ethnicity, class, religion, but many different points of view, the answer becomes questionable, the question needs definition or more questioning. It’s a complex system we are entering into. The biggest question I have is, as secondary school educators teaching adolescents, will it be too much for them to handle or to comprehend if I bring up these questions? Of course, the easy answer is no, but in reality they need a lot more information, knowledge, experience and background in order to understand, not to mention tackle such questions. There are a lot of inequalities that need to be addressed and rectified in the world, much of it is hidden beneath the surface, in cracks and corners. I remember specific moments in the school I was doing my practicum where I had strong feelings throughout my mind and body. They were like flashbacks but stronger. I spent a lot of time skipping school in the 9th and 10th grade, where I skipped classes to see friends at the school I was doing my practicum in. I was there a lot, had many experiences from the hallways, 107 bathrooms, smoke pit, schoolyard, and surrounding areas. Being back there brought back many of the feelings I experienced in that space. It was quite an embodying experience that really shook me actually. I can’t explain exactly how it felt or what it did to me, but it really did affect me. I guess it brought me back to the level of understanding the youth in the class, understanding the things that they value and struggle with in their position, in their personal lives. The other thing I noticed was their attire. Many of them were wearing clothes much like I remember wearing. The shirts from bands that I remember being in love with while I went to school and now even. I guess they are timeless legends and their music just relates to the school experience for adolescents. I think being home for the practicum was very important. The land and objects hold memories of past experiences and feelings. They talk to you in a way. It seems everyone has a place they go to unwind and find their center. You might question why this place does that for you. Is it the environment? Is it a memory or ritual which brings you back to that place? When I went on my practicum, I took a weekend to get back to my roots, to unwind. I found myself in a place I visited often in the past. But this time it was different, it was a different season with different smells, appearance, and feel. I hadn’t been to this place in a long while, six years or so. It was much like the flashbacks I felt in the school, but deeper. It brought me back to a very calm place, into a spiritual dialogue with the world and myself. The environment spoke to me, not so much spoke, but showed me what I had been missing. The season was late autumn, calm, still, crisp and fresh. It showed me what I already knew in my head but it showed my body. My body needed to remember and feel that space so it could find its way back. I often knew in my mind and body that I needed to be there. I guess my mind and body had forgotten exactly what and where that place was, how it should feel, and how to get there. So now it remembers. I go there daily, hourly even, because I have to. 108 I just swallow hard While on practicum, I felt invisible to some people and visible to others. It seemed like some people hardly acknowledged my presence while others were very aware and treated me almost as equal. Some people were completely not acknowledging my existence, maybe they mistook me for a student or maybe they didn’t want to, maybe not knowing what to say. So a few people were friendly, and I got into a couple of conversations with a few other people but I stuck to my teacher and to a couple of other practicum students that were there. Sometimes during practicum, I felt like I wasn’t listened to or that I should be silent in order to maintain my status. Mostly I feel oppressed or marginalized due to my youthful appearance. Most people say something about my age even if they don’t realize it. I feel like I am subject to a lot of political debates and structures. I also notice a hierarchy of politics within the school during practicum. Not having the acknowledgement of other teachers was weird. In the staff room, I felt like I was eavesdropping during conversations. I could’ve jumped into the conversations but I didn’t want to because I didn’t want to say anything out of place and they would probably think, ‘You don’t know the half of it!’ And I just felt like an outsider. I didn’t really feel any extremely welcoming moments, except with my first sponsor teacher, she was absolutely amazing, very helpful. And I think she’s probably the reason that I stayed there and why I’m going to be able to deal with the next semester, because I was able to talk to her once in a while and say, ‘This is what’s going on.’ The rest of them are really busy and in their own little worlds. I’m not too sure what may have been the problem, negativity, not quite negative but, they’re kind of standoffish and that may have been the problem. They had problems before with student-teachers and maybe they don’t say anything around them because they may say something to the wrong people or who knows. I’m sure I would have been received totally different at the other school, the one I graduated from. Everyone would have been friendly, ‘Oh 109 hey, you’re back. It’s great to see you.’ And people who didn’t know me, they would probably introduce themselves, and here, if parents walk down the hallway, they would probably just walk right by parents. I am a very quiet, in my own world person, so maybe it’s good for me. I don’t know, I would rather have the family environment the other school has. I think it adds to the experience. When you are in the staff room and you are having a good conversation with people and you go to class and then you start teaching and you’re still in that mood. But when you go to your staff room and you’re sitting there by yourself and eating lunch, and you’re looking over things that you’ve got to do and go to the classroom and you’re still on mind-time, there’s no real slowing down, no relief time. On practicum, I tried to be neutral, but I tried to influence things once in a while. I think the practicum is kind of like a long-term interview to find out what kind of person I really am and if I’m the kind of person they really want there. Because if they want people who will do things differently, I can do that, but I didn’t want to do something and then be kicked out of there. I have strong beliefs about the world, about a lot of things, and I’m the kind of person who usually gets up and starts saying something, to say what I think. I’ll take whatever consequences even if I have to lose my job sometimes. I just can’t do it now, it is too important to get through this program and also not to gain too many enemies. It depends on the people who are around, who I’m with, if they’ll receive me graciously or not. Some people would be totally offended and would hold a grudge forever. Being part of a minority race within education, not to mention Canada, puts me at some advantage as the education system seeks more diversity in its staffing. I think being female is advantageous because students are often more willing to open up to female teachers than male, but that is just an assumption on my part, males may feel more comfortable opening up to male role models. As I am part of the lower class, I have totally different views about many things. I 110 notice middle and high class people take their financial stability for granted and they assume that anyone can afford the little things. I find I don’t have the luxury of buying new clothes, wonderful school supplies or going out for lunch, dinners, drinks or other extracurricular experiences. I noticed that in my social issues class everyone seemed to assume that the people in the class were middle class or better, and heterosexual. They often saw people of different races as representatives of that race and they had a hard time commenting on issues of race when that person was present. I have always been the type of person who enjoys solitude and seeks it often. But lately, throughout this first semester at university, I feel very isolated. The university is large but it seems that everyone is confined to their quarters on campus as well as within the faculty. Science people never mingle with art people and so on. Outside of university, I have very little time to become involved in anything else. My daily routine consists of waking up, eating if I have time, saying hello to my boyfriend online, then heading out the door to the bus, waiting for the bus and on the bus there is no interaction, people read, sleep, talk on cell phones and listen to music. I get off the bus and it’s the same thing, walking in crowds without any conversation or interaction. I get to class and have a few minutes to chat sometimes. After class it’s time for homework, or eats. I went out a couple of times with students from the cohort, but then it is back to homework. My roommates are not great company so I shut my door. Sometimes, I don’t want to get up and out of bed, especially when my body feels very negatively towards something. I just swallow hard, especially if it seems I am the only one having the problem. I sometimes try to keep my distance from the other students so they don’t influence my decisions and assignments too much, or so that they don’t take too much of mine. Sometimes it is good to gain from their ideas too. I don’t really feel like a teacher. I feel more like a coordinator than a teacher. I feel that a teacher is sometimes too strong of a word for how I would like to run the 111 classroom. I would prefer to be more in a coordinator or in a participant-type role. I mostly fear how my sponsor teacher will receive me and my teaching methods and strategies on the long practicum. She is very strict, old school, my way or no way type person. She said she acknowledges that we will have different teaching styles and that will be OK, but I fear she has no idea how different we really are and I hope that doesn’t interfere with my experience and practicum, or my life too much. Many of the schools in the school district I’m entering are resistant to accepting student- teachers. The teacher that finally decided to take me after the short practicum was very resistant to having a student-teacher come in. She seemed resistant towards me until one day she got to know me on a more personal level. I wrote an introductory letter so that she could relate to me better. But my head and body are resistant towards the long practicum. Fear or something is setting in but I won’t let it take over. I have the same feelings toward this family reunion t-shirt I am supposed to have designed by now. Too much pressure. I just don’t feel I can do it. The fact of the matter is that I just have to do it, just do it! I want to try new things and experiment I’m kind of afraid of how things will go with the teacher because I’ve been sending e- mails back and forth and she seems to have a lack of confidence in my abilities I guess. I sent her an e-mail with some ideas for my first week, but she sent me an e-mail saying that it was too much classroom management to start with, and it is only one class! So I e-mailed her back, saying, ‘Oh, okay.’ I understand she has experience and all that, I was just trying to start with something a little easy. I put it nicely, but I was worried that she lacked confidence in me. I also said that there would be a time where I wanted to try new things and experiment and stuff. She e-mailed me back and said basically that I won’t do anything that she hasn’t seen before. I was 112 just like, ‘Wow! Okay.’ I’ve already had a couple things rejected and if I do too many it’s a lot of wasted work. I bit my tongue and thought I had better just leave it at that. But I was already thinking, it’s not about what she’s seen before, it’s about me. I’m paying to be there and they need to know that. I don’t know, it’s got to be sort of a power thing, and that will be the hardest thing to get over. For the long practicum, I’m working with the Grade 8’s because they always have sort of a book of things that they cover. I’m just going to jump into it. All these things I’ve been thinking about are coming into my dreams lately, like getting to sleep, getting to the class on time, and the classroom, thinking, what am I going to do? How am I going to make these kids listen? And then, I keep thinking, I should have pushed, really pushed to go to the other school. There’s less personal interaction in this school amongst the teachers and amongst the teachers and students. But I would be too afraid of it being a conflict of interest, where people see my request as a negative thing because the only other option would be going to the other school with the same art teacher that I used to have when I was a student, and we’re already sort of friends. I’m afraid of being too much of an easy-going pushover that the students will take advantage of me. I just don’t know if I can actually pull off being a tough me. I can’t wait until it is over. Right now everyone in the cohort is just fending for themselves and dealing with their own problems because everyone has different teachers. There are a few things that we do talk about, we talk about teachers, we discuss problems and issues, and what we are each doing. I would consider teaching in other places and see what it is like because I have a feeling there might be a place with better things. But then, maybe this is the best it gets! When I’m done, I’m going to take a year. I’m hoping not to get a full-time job now. I would like to be TOC’ing2. I want to deinstitutionalize myself! I feel like I’m a total foreigner from all these 2 The term ‘TOC’ refers to teacher on call. 113 kids in the class because I have all this knowledge I want to give them but they’re not going to understand me at all. I need to understand them. So I think I need to tone it down a little. I learned a lot about the restraints that teachers have and things they can’t do, and the powerlessness they have in the classroom because overall, government has power. My head is just going a million miles a minute. What do I do, what do I need, I’m up all night, I don’t want to be up all night, I just can’t sleep. I actually got some sleeping pills from my doctor. I think it’s just that my sleeping schedule from the holidays is totally messed up. I think my biggest fear is that it’s not going to work out between me and the teacher and then I don’t know. I’m just wondering if I will give up because of too much stress. If I just can’t do it anymore, or it’s not worth it, or something like that. I hope the long practicum will just fly by. I just want to get it over with. It was scary, the first week of the short practicum, I was all over the place and felt like my head was chopped off for just one class and I’m going to have three later on, and I’m thinking that’s a lot of work. I’m wondering how the students are going react to me after being in the classroom and telling them what to do. Are they going to listen or are they going to do a half-assed job or what? And if I can’t get these kids to do their work then what good am I as a teacher? I just don’t know what I’m going to do on the practicum and how I’m going to get them interested in art when they don’t have any supplies. I had to be a root of care to the tree of unhappiness that lived in the classroom My long practicum was physically and emotionally draining but encompassed with rewards and lessons throughout. I found moments where my point of view and ideas on teaching, school or students differed from my sponsor teachers. I need to work on how I approach such situations. I need to be more cautious so as not to seem argumentative, I need to 114 avoid conflict, and offending those involved. I learned that I am strong, I can overcome any obstacle and I want to give as much as I can. I was successful with classroom management. Most of the students respected me and behaved appropriately. My most successful lesson was on the ‘Mandala’ because the imagery and statements turned out very strong for each individual in the class. I also felt quite positive about having a guest speaker and artist come in to diffuse stereotypes with knowledge and lived experiences for the students to learn from. I had a hard time when students expressed negative attitudes towards lessons. I took that personally. It’s like getting a bad review on an artwork that you have invested a lot into, or a bad grade on a paper that you put a lot of time into and feel strongly about. Trying to get through to some students was frustrating as well. I also struggled in dealing with the sponsor teacher always being there, sticking out like a sore thumb, constantly jumping into situations and taking over as she pleased. It was hard trying to satisfy her standards. There was a need for space and distance from the sponsor teacher that I was unable to maintain under the circumstances. Later in the practicum, I struggled with morning sickness throughout the day. I realized that good health and energy is crucial in teaching to my fullest abilities. It takes a lot of energy to teach and organization is essential for survival. My life contrasted greatly with many of the students’ lives as well as the sponsor teachers’ lives. My life has many complexities and difficulties that many of the students and teachers could never really understand. This made it hard at times for the students and teachers to understand me and for me to accept their lives and attitudes without being judgmental. Although, in some cases, it brought my sponsor teacher or faculty advisor and me closer together, bonding, as you could put it. When I became pregnant, I did not feel comfortable telling my sponsor teacher or the school district for fear of judgment or jeopardizing chances at obtaining a job. It was difficult hiding the fact and dealing with its effects on my teaching. I 115 would have liked to be more honest in order to have their support and understanding along the way. On another note, how private lives affected my practicum experience, I did not expect to have to deal so much with the private lives of the people involved. My sponsor teacher regularly delved into her private matters, using me as a support system and friend, asking for advice and thoughts about situations I personally did not feel I should venture into. My faculty advisor also had many personal matters and health issues throughout the practicum to which I had to be sensitive to, work around and deal with. I was previously under the impression that our relationships were supposed to be strictly professional but they ended up becoming quite personal and in so doing, it was hard to tell where I might cross lines in our relationships. I felt like I had to be a root of care to the tree of unhappiness that lived in the classroom. I felt a neighbouring teacher showed the most care towards both the students and me. This was where I turned to for help and recluse throughout my practicum. The care in my own classroom, especially from my sponsor teacher, seemed limited and superficial but it did exist. My sponsor teacher, faculty advisor and fellow teachers were excellent mentors in my teaching. They provided me with a variety of techniques and tips that came from many valuable years of experience. My mother was also a great mentor, providing me with insight, knowledge, skills and supports that she had gained from her experiences working in elementary schools. It was both more and less work than I had anticipated. It seemed to take up every minute of time I had, plus some! I found myself doing things I had not anticipated would take so long, such as gathering resources and preparing for demonstrations. I spent less and less time on lesson plans and learned to take things as they come. Looking back, I would have planned more self-directed projects for the students to explore their own interests and artistic abilities. I would have also put more effort into getting to know the other teachers and participating in more school-wide events. 116 When I was feeling ill, drained both physically and mentally, and especially when the students seemed so disinterested, I questioned if this was really for me. I kept thinking of how much I would rather just be working in a studio doing what I love to do. I also thought about all the other jobs that I am already qualified to do that probably pay about the same or more and the workload is much less. In the end, I practiced discipline knowing I would regret making such decisions in the long run. The practicum was tough, and so it should be, but I had to focus on the fact that it would get easier and there is light at the end of the tunnel. I had many reasons for choosing this path, and to jump off it because it got a little rocky would surely prove to be a mistake. Other things that helped keep me on track were the Grade 8 students’ passion, energy and creativity. I also had my family and friends supporting and encouraging me, but not pressuring me. I hope to open their eyes Now that I’m done, I feel relieved, excited to enter the workforce and a bit nervous about the first day back. I’ll probably be alone and a little rusty. I wonder how the students will receive me, and will they behave? How will the staff receive me? What classes will I have to TOC for? Will I know the material? How well can I improvise if needed? The last day I attended classes I remember thinking, I was glad that there was only one week left but also overwhelmed with the amount of homework and pressure. Since I ended up in the hospital for the final week, it took me an extra couple of weeks to finish the final classes while on bed-rest. The instructors were somewhat accommodating to my circumstance but in some ways, they really could not have understood the severity of the situation. It was hard to concentrate and perform the tasks needed. In the end, it was hoop jumping. 117 As a teacher, I am still young and energetic, full of great ideas and willing to take risks both in the classroom, as well as with administration and staff. I am strong and soft when needed. I think that my desire to create change and willingness to challenge the system when needed could make or break me throughout my career. I figure I will try to use good judgment as to when and where to exercise my freedom of speech and power, when to push and when to flow. As long as I stay true to what I believe I will be okay with the results of my actions, whatever they may be. I am a visionary with not enough time, money, space, energy or material to complete my ideas. This has been my artist self since I can remember, but I am determined and when inspired, I do manage to complete some of my artwork. I am always seeking answers and driven to succeed. Beyond that, I am driven to learn, about EVERYTHING. I’m not looking at knowledge as power but knowledge for understanding and informing decisions within myself, my life, and for passing on such knowledge. I want each student to grow as opposed to achieve. I hope to open their eyes rather than tell them what to see and do. I view teaching as much more than passing on information and skills. I see it as so much more, but at the same time I feel like teachers are caged birds held back by society. This will never change. So when we get the opportunity to sneak out of the cage once in a while, why not take it, but be wary of the cats waiting for just the right moment to pounce. 118 Nathalie’s story: A game of dramatic hats D 119 I have no real expectations of this program I have a background in art. My ideas for my work come from what I observe in my environment. When I finished my art degree, I started exhibiting. I began pushing myself because the program has a great opportunity in that when you graduate, you put on an entire show in a gallery. You have to go from start to finish and work it out. It was wonderful. After I graduated, that show went to Edmonton, Regina and to other places. It was a really great experience, but I feel like I left that life. It’s been on pause for three years. My first experience teaching was with ESL, Grade 1 to 9, and I loved it, but I was really reluctant to go towards teaching because everyone in my family is a teacher – grandma, mom, auntie. My grandma was a one-room schoolteacher on the Prairies, teaching Grade 1 to 12. I wasn’t sure about teaching. The weight of the whole commitment scared me. Do I want to sign up for a thirty-year plan? Because that’s what everyone in my family has done. But after the ESL experience, which was just amazing, I thought I really do enjoy this. I only moved to the city a month before the program started, so I had to get a place to live. I don’t really feel like I have a social network yet, but that will come. I’ve been feeling really depressed, and I think it’s because I am still in transition. I have no real expectations of this program. I think in some ways that is working to my advantage because I don’t really have any room for disappointment. Still it’s been very hard coming back. I get emotional even talking about it. I thought it would be great if I could be creating things while teaching, and combining those two realms of my past. And even today, I’m realizing this is good, I’ve made a good choice, I mean, it is pretty stressful. We were talking this morning, holy crow, it’s only been three weeks but it feels like a year. When I talk to people, they seem more excited than I am, my family or friends, they’re just so excited. Well, I thought, I’ll go and see what it is like, and even 120 the first day, I wasn’t definite. But this is it. I’m pretty certain I’ll finish the program, it’s only a year, it’s such a great opportunity and it will give me so much. I think what always worried me is that I didn’t know what kind of teacher I wanted to be. I don’t want to be like the memories I have of the authority figure at the front, that memory put me off teaching for a while. Seeing as I grew up in a house full of teachers, I’m very familiar with the strict, stern voice. My mom totally has a teacher voice and when it comes out, you know you’re in trouble. I want to be a teacher who is open, available, involved, a good listener, can laugh at oneself, who is fun, open to change, someone who can learn from others, who takes risks, who experiments, explores and evolves. I feel I’m back in the educational system as the student even though we are training to be teachers. Teaching ESL taught me the stresses of being a teacher. You ask yourself, ‘What am I doing tomorrow? What materials am I bringing? What are the students going to be doing? What are the objectives?’ But those worries aren’t present for me at this point. This program asks you to get back into a scholarly mindset where you have to sit down and write an essay response to a reading. So at this point in the program I really don’t feel like a teacher. Although even when I was teaching, I’m not sure if I felt like one. When I was teaching in the classroom and responsible for curriculum and all that stuff, I didn’t feel that it was my room, even though I often refer to them as my kids, it was our room. So I come to this program from that perspective. We’re training to be art teachers and it’s really great that the professors are emphasizing the fact we need to be continually working on our art while we are in the program. A lot of the people in my cohort know each other. I don’t know if they are friends but some went through art training together. I talked to another girl last night who said when she walked in on the first day she looked around, she thought she was in the wrong place because everyone seemed to know each other. She actually left and then checked the door, no this is it, and went back in. I am just 121 amazed that people have spouses or families and are doing this program. I was thinking about it, and maybe because I don’t have a social network yet, I have all the time in the world to do this, but I’m feeling pretty consumed by it already. This is all I’m doing on weekends. I was here all Saturday. We were on a field visit to a school last week, and I know our instructors talk a lot about Code 5, but I felt like I was really in the way as an observer and it made me so uncomfortable, the room was small, but it felt even smaller because of the atmosphere. After that experience, I just thought this is not for me, unless I can reinvent this entire profession, this is not for me. It was my first time back to a high school art classroom in ten years, so there’s been a big gap. I just felt terrible, I didn’t want to walk around and interact with the students because of the atmosphere conveyed, and even if it’s not directly articulated, it is in the air. I felt very intrusive, but the saving grace was there was another situation where I walked into the room and the room embraced me. It seemed bigger and everyone was smiling. I was included in the lesson and encouraged to use materials, sit down, have a chair, and it was great. I feel so sensitive right now, this emotional roller coaster, within two or three hours of seeing the classrooms, we were discussing our experience and no one really seemed to say what I just said. I think because I’m self critical and constantly analyzing myself, I have the chance to grow into something, something really great and I hope that happens because it could go the other way and it could cave in and everything could come crashing down. Sometimes I wonder if it’s just my nature. I’m constantly questioning myself, I guess we are our biggest critic. I really hope that when I come out of this, I’m confident, I know what is expected for each grade level, and I really want to stay informed. I just hope that once I’m comfortable with set criteria then I can really explore and have fun with what I’m doing. 122 Looking ahead, I’m concerned about the practicum. I think it’s my fear of being in front of an audience. I’ve heard that it’s much easier to stand in front of students on the practicum than when you’re in front of your cohort peers. I hope that is true. The whole ‘everyone look at me I’m going to say something,’ that makes me nervous. She wants to be the ‘cool teacher’ We had a lecture with three high school students and three teachers, and it was a hard lecture for me. I thought the point of view they presented was so narrow. The students were all white, high achievers, excelling in math and French. It was interesting to me, when we got into our cohort, none of that was addressed. I was still processing what I had just seen, so I didn’t bring any of this up in class and it was just kind of skipped. I’m thinking of doing a response in my visual journal. I don’t know if it was what they were actually saying or how they were presenting the information. It came across as, if teachers aesthetically present themselves in a certain way, they’ll be fine. It’s almost like saying, ‘OK, if you spend all this money and buy all new clothes and you are hip and trendy, then you will be accepted, no problem, and the kids will like you. Providing you don’t show your thong or wear a velour tracksuit.’ This is all coming from the high school kids! Recently we had been talking about wardrobe and presenting the teacher image as a cohort. There were a couple of exercises where we had to come to school dressed like an art teacher and then had pictures taken of us. I wanted to make a paper dol
UBC Theses and Dissertations
Unfolding the unexpectedness of uncertainty : arts research as a triptych installation : a conversation… Sinner, Anita Elizabeth 2008
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