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Being open to possibilities : developing a liberatory practice in adult special education Bjerrisgaard, Linda 1996

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B E I N G O P E N T O POSSIBILITIES: D E V E L O P I N G A L I B E R A T O R Y P R A C T I C E IN A D U L T S P E C I A L E D U C A T I O N by L I N D A B J E R R I S G A A R D B.Ed . , University of British Columbia, 1983 A THESIS S U B M I T T E D I N P A R T I A L F U L F I L L M E N T O F T H E R E Q U I R E M E N T S F O R T H E D E G R E E O F M A S T E R O F A R T S in T H E F A C U L T Y O F G R A D U A T E STUDIES (Centre for Studies in Curriculum and Instruction) We accept this thesis as conforming to the r e q u i r e d standard T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A A P R I L 1996 © Linda Bjerrisgaard, 1996 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of Q gx&Qy %of S>W\\eS \r\ O A A ^ J T Y A a j r v c l ^^Wv^VfU-cKm The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada DE-6 (2/88) 1 1 ABSTRACT A c t i o n research was conducted i n a c o l l e g e s e t t i n g w i t h adult s p e c i a l education students while seeking to answer the question: What do these students r e a l l y need to know i n order to be employable? This paper examines and r e f l e c t s upon c r i t i c a l i n c i d e n t s , j o u r n a l w r i t i n g , t r a n s c i p t i o n s of video sessions and documents of the time i n v o l v i n g students and colleagues over a p e r i o d of s i x years. Using p e r s p e c t i v e s from c o u n s e l l i n g psychology, c u r r i c u l u m theory, and a c t i o n research s i x themes emerge as r e c u r r i n g f o c a l p o i n t s of r e f l e c t i o n and change: communication, behavior, p a t t e r n s , r o l e s , r e l a t i o n s h i p s , and s t r u c t u r e . Research i s concluded through three l e v e l s of r e f l e c t i o n on person, problem and method. The teacher/researcher moves from a p e r s p e c t i v e of "doing to students" to one of "being w i t h students" (responsive t e a c h i n g ) . I t i s suggested that A d u l t S p e c i a l Education students need to gain an understanding of themselves as l e a r n e r s and as s o c i a l beings w i t h i n a s o c i a l context. A c t i o n research methodology became the teaching methodology. TABLE OF CONTENTS A b s t r a c t i i Table of Contents i i i Acknowledgements v CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND 1 In t r o d u c t i o n 1 Am I Teaching What I Think I Am? 2 Developing a " T r a i n i n g " Program 8 CHAPTER TWO TRAINING 12 What does " T r a i n i n g " Look l i k e ? 12 Is there a D i f f e r e n c e between " T r a n s i t i o n a l T r a i n i n g " and "Food Service Worker"? 17 R e f l e c t i o n s 27 CHAPTER THREE SOME EMERGING THEMES 31 Communication, Behavior and Patterns 31 Who's Teaching Whom? 37 Further R e f l e c t i o n s 47 CHAPTER FOUR MORE THEMES 51 R e l a t i o n s h i p s and Roles 51 S h i f t i n g Roles and H i e r a r c h i c a l S t r u ctures 81 CHAPTER FIVE REFLECTIONS ON PERSON, PROBLEM AND METHOD . . 94 ...on Myself as Teacher/Researcher 94 i v ...on How Best to Teach Ad u l t S p e c i a l Education Students i n a Pre-Employment Program 97 ... on A c t i o n Research 106 . . . Quest (ion) i n g 118 REFERENCES 121 V ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I wish to thank my students and colleagues, f o r without t h e i r support and cooperation t h i s research might never have evolved. To C h a r l i e Ungerleider and Ted Aoki who at d i f f e r e n t p o i n t s i n my educational journey have helped me to s u s t a i n a b e l i e f i n myself as a teacher. Many thanks to Linda Peterat who showed an i n t e r e s t i n my work and has provided support, suggestions and guidance during the w r i t i n g of t h i s t h e s i s . To f a m i l y and f r i e n d s who have supported my e f f o r t s , l i s t e n e d to my f r u s t r a t i o n s , and helped out i n innumerable ways. A s p e c i a l thanks to Robert and my c h i l d r e n Christopher and S t e f f i e f o r p u t t i n g up wit h me, p a r t i c u l a r l y over the past three years. 1 1 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND Introduction What f o l l o w s draws upon s i x years of an a c t i o n research process I engaged i n as an Adult S p e c i a l Education I n s t r u c t o r i n a College s e t t i n g . This account of my p r a c t i c e i s an e v o l v i n g s t o r y which began i n t u i t i v e l y w i t h the question: What do these students r e a l l y need to know i n order to be employable? This question marked the beginning of a constant q u e s t i o n / a c t i o n s p i r a l which has become c e n t r a l i n my p r a c t i c e . Shaped through c r i t i c a l i n c i d e n t s , autobiography, t h e o r i e s , and personal i n q u i r y I now ho l d a strong b e l i e f that A d u l t S p e c i a l Education I n s t r u c t o r s are i n an i n c r e d i b l y powerful p o s i t i o n from which to e f f e c t change, but have been focusing on the wrong aspects of the curricul u m . In f a c t , I have a s u s p i c i o n that the things that we as i n s t r u c t o r s are unaware of, may be what a f f e c t these students the most. In the w r i t i n g of t h i s paper I int e n d to reframe and question some commonly h e l d b e l i e f s and assumptions about persons w i t h s p e c i a l needs, about how and what to teach them, and whether we are r e a l l y teaching what we t h i n k we are. 2 Am I Teaching What I Think I Am? In the summer of 1994, I took a course w i t h Dr. Ted Aoki during which we were asked to keep a j o u r n a l . Beginning w i t h the t o p i c of myself as a u n i v e r s i t y student, I described an experience of moving from one c l a s s to another, f e e l i n g l i k e I was caught admist a c o n t r a d i c t i o n . In one c l a s s I was t o t a l l y i n v o l v e d , a c t i v e l y p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n lengthy d i s c u s s i o n s which o f f e r e d many pe r s p e c t i v e s and i n s i g h t s . In co n t r a s t my next c l a s s was q u i t e the opposite. From my back row seat I o f t e n had the sense that what was being taught v e r b a l l y and what was being taught non-verbally d i d not match; a message that s a i d , do as I say but not as I do. I f e l t disconnected and d i s i n t e r e s t e d . I went on to w r i t e about my f e e l i n g s of f r u s t r a t i o n around saying nothing about what I was experiencing as r a t h e r a' deadly classroom. This d e c i s i o n arose from a sense that my op i n i o n would not be w e l l r e c e i v e d . I wrote of ten s i o n between myself and others, something I had f e l t a l o t of over the years and which had been p a r t i c u l a r l y high again of l a t e . Since beginning my Masters program I had f e l t more and more removed from f r i e n d s , f a m i l y and co-workers. I f e l t pushed away by comments that 3 c a t e g o r i z e d me as too smart, and not understandable to others. Ted u n d e r l i n e d one of my comments which s a i d , "people fe a r what they do not understand." I went on to describe a sense of freedom f o r me as being away from watchful, judgmental eyes. Freedom means doing what needs to be done, to f o l l o w your own i n t e r e s t or need, and to be c r e a t i v e when nobody i s watching. I i n c l u d e d a d e s c r i p t i o n of d r i v i n g through a tunnel where even the lanes are separated w i t h b a r r i e r s . This creates f o r me a very uncomfortable f e e l i n g , a sense of f e e l i n g trapped, unable to f u n c t i o n as I normally do. Ted responded w i t h , "constrained i n the narrow space between." My next entry says much about me, which u n t i l now I have chosen to ignore. I wrote: On F r i d a y the a r t i c l e from the C a l l of Teaching had two p o i n t s that rang p a r t i c u l a r l y true f o r me as a teacher of adult s p e c i a l education. I have o f t e n over the past year questioned my i n f l u e n c e , involvement on a personal human l e v e l w i t h my students and how t h i s impacts on t h e i r a b i l i t y to achieve a sense of independence f o r themselves. I spoke i n c l a s s of what my I n s t r u c t o r l a s t summer r e f e r r e d to as a "dance" between two i n d i v i d u a l s and have been experimenting w i t h t h i s n o t i o n by purposely changing my p a r t of the dance. Don Cassel i n h i s paper i d e n t i f i e d t h i s somewhat when he r e f e r r e d to f e e l i n g that he himself might be the cause of the problem. He a l s o speaks of a fear to w r i t e because he can't hear the v o i c e of h i s students above h i s own. Is he a f r a i d to hear h i s own voice? How can he know h i s students i f he doesn't know hims e l f ? I t has been my experience that most people 4 do hide from themselves and that unknowingly they a f f e c t others, t r y i n g to p r o t e c t themselves by p u t t i n g blame on someone or something e l s e and avoid l o o k i n g at themselves. Ted u n d e r l i n e d the f o l l o w i n g : achieve a sense of independence f o r themselves my pa r t of the dance he himself might be the cause of the problem hide from themselves avoid l o o k i n g at themselves W r i t i n g about t h i s w r i t i n g , I went on to comment: "Dancing" This r a i s e s the question that i f we spend a l o t of time h i d i n g and a v o i d i n g l o o k i n g at and accepting ourselves as we are, how does t h i s i n f l u e n c e our a b i l i t y to teach, our students' a b i l i t y to l e a r n , our a b i l i t y to use what we have learned ... our a b i l i t y to f u n c t i o n i n the world? Ted responded w i t h these two questions. Could there be always an unknowable stranger w i t h i n a s e l f ? The other s e l f ? At the time of my summer course i n 1994 I chose to avoid what now seems the most obvious to pursue "my other s e l f " . Instead I chose to focus on the questions which took me back to one of my students who having a diagnosis of schizophrenia had a much more obvious' other to pursue. 5 I t was e a s i e r to look at another r a t h e r than myself. I have since come back to look at my i s s u e s , as yet unresolved. I t was my sense that during the f i f t h year of the program my past had begun creeping i n t o my work environment making i t p r o g r e s s i v e l y more d i f f i c u l t to be who I chose to be. Heavy business demands on the program and personal p r o j e c t s had increased the l e v e l s of s t r e s s f o r both students and i n s t r u c t o r s . The r e s u l t of the l a t t e r being that myself and many of those connected w i t h the program began to r e t u r n to past ways of coping, past ways of being, unproductive r o l e s . A v o i d i n g myself, I proceeded to w r i t e i n my j o u r n a l some d e s c r i p t i o n s of working w i t h a student named C r y s t a l . I have on s e v e r a l occasions watched her move from being emotionally d i s t r a u g h t , hunched over and a v o i d i n g eye contact i n t o a w i t t y , c r e a t i v e , spontaneous i n d i v i d u a l i n the space of a twenty minute conversation w i t h me. Ted commented, "seems to say much about spaces f o r others you c r e a t e . " This statement motivated my next entry which was about Joe. He could do very r o u t i n e sets of tasks and could a s s i m i l a t e new tasks i f added s l o w l y to h i s r o u t i n e . He was mechanical i n h i s s o c i a l i n t e r a c t i o n s , h i s understanding being very l i t e r a l . 6 Ted c i r c l e d "being very l i t e r a l " , and at the end of t h i s entry which f u r t h e r went on to o f f e r d e s c r i p t i o n s of Joe's t r a i n i n g to be a wai t e r , he wrote: I f e e l a s h i f t i n language I sensed the language i n the e a r l i e r submission touched w i t h the language of l i v e d experiences whereas the s t o r i e s of Joe seemed to be couched i n the language of o b j e c t i v i t y . S t a r t l e d by the r e a l i z a t i o n that I had indeed used d i f f e r e n t language when speaking about two of my students, I began to seek the reason f o r the d i f f e r e n c e by comparing the words that I had chosen to use i n my w r i t i n g . With C r y s t a l I had used words such as " w i t t y " , " c r e a t i v e " , and "spontaneous." These words are f o r me signs of having no preconceived n o t i o n of what to expect. On the other hand, f o r Joe I used "slowly, mechanical, r o u t i n e ; " words having the f l a v o r of l i n e a r i t y and p r e d i c t a b i l i t y . My w r i t i n g about C r y s t a l was s h i f t i n g back and f o r t h from C r y s t a l to me and back again, but what jumped o f f the page at me was the r e o c c u r r i n g use of the word "with." I had used i t f i v e times i n a j o u r n a l entry that was l e s s than a page long. What d i d "with" mean? What does experiencing l i f e "with" C r y s t a l mean? Returning to my w r i t i n g about Joe I had made reference to "he d i d t h i s " or "he d i d t h a t , " w i t h reference to myself t a k i n g the form of our and we. What was I p r o t e c t i n g myself from that I f e l t the need to become a we? As I was t r y i n g to sleep one n i g h t , I had a v i v i d l y c l e a r p i c t u r e of my w r i t i n g about Joe which moved to focus on the words "being very l i t e r a l . " What occurred to me was that what I had l e f t out of my d e s c r i p t i o n of C r y s t a l was that the w i t t i n e s s , c r e a t i v e n e s s , and spontaneity were to a large degree about her use of language. Did the d i f f e r e n c e have something to do wi t h being " l i t e r a t e " as opposed to " l i t e r a l " ? Language, l i t e r a t e , and l i t e r a l ? I found myself t h i n k i n g about my present experiences of being a student and of my st r u g g l e s w i t h language and understanding language, and t h i n k i n g that too much emphasis was on language. But was i t ? What had begun to happen f o r me as I r e f l e c t e d and pursued a deeper understanding of what I had w r i t t e n was an awareness that a l l of my j o u r n a l i z i n g was somehow i n t e r l i n k e d . My experiences of being a student i n one c l a s s could e a s i l y have mirrored my experiences of being w i t h C r y s t a l ; only i n one I am the student, the other the teacher. My f i r s t j o u r n a l entry about being caught i n a c o n t r a d i c t i o n , could I have been doing t h i s to Joe? I a l s o became aware of a l l of the s h i f t i n g back and f o r t h i n my mind as I had been w r i t i n g . Back and f o r t h between C r y s t a l and Joe, back and f o r t h between the c l a s s e s I had been t a k i n g at the time, past to present, student to teacher and I had a l s o brought i n to a small degree an other i n myself. What does a l l of t h i s have to do w i t h being a teacher and being a student? What does a l l of t h i s have to do w i t h my understanding of being a teacher and being a student? D e v e l o p i n g a " T r a i n i n g " P r o g r a m . P r e s e n t l y i n the c o l l e g e system there are a number of students who are being r e f e r r e d to as "students who f a l l between the crac k s . " These students have l a b e l s d e s c r i b i n g such d i f f i c u l t i e s as l e a r n i n g d i s a b i l i t y , d y s l e x i a , schizophrenia, f e t a l a l c o h o l syndrome, emotional d i f f i c u l t i e s , b e h a v i o r a l d i f f i c u l t i e s , head i n j u r y , m i l d or moderate i n t e l l e c t u a l impairment, a t t e n t i o n d e f i c i t d i s o r d e r . S i x years ago I was h i r e d to develop and then implement a new program f o r the above mentioned student p o p u l a t i o n . In a d d i t i o n to the standard c u r r i c u l u m of l i f e s k i l l s and b a s i c academics t h i s program was to provide v o c a t i o n a l t r a i n i n g to prepare students f o r entry l e v e l p o s i t i o n s i n the food s e r v i c e i n d u s t r y . P r i o r to my appointment, the Coordinator of Developmental Studies had been i n n e g o t i a t i o n w i t h a l o c a l Senior C i t i z e n s Group. As a r e s u l t , t h i s program was to be i n p a r t n e r s h i p w i t h the Seniors' Centre, w i t h the expectation that our students would prepare a soup and sandwich lunch three days a week. This was to be done i n the Seniors' k i t c h e n , l o c a t e d i n the basement of the same b u i l d i n g as the C o l l e g e . In a d d i t i o n we would a l s o run a coffee concession f o r students on our campus. Having p r e v i o u s l y worked i n l a r g e i n s t i t u t i o n a l s e t t i n g s , my i n i t i a l assumption was that these students would f u n c t i o n at a low academic l e v e l , but would be able to l e a r n the s k i l l s necessary to gain employment. Teaching them would r e q u i r e l o t s of s u p e r v i s i o n and r e p e t i t i o n of tasks as they would l e a r n more sl o w l y than the normal po p u l a t i o n . Having v i s i t e d some Adult S p e c i a l Education Programs i n the Vancouver area, I envisioned students performing such jobs as making c o f f e e , washing dishes, preparing vegetables f o r soup, making sandwiches, s e t t i n g t a b l e s , and other such d u t i e s . I n s t r u c t i o n a l s t a f f c o n s i s t i n g of myself as I n s t r u c t o r and an I n s t r u c t i o n a l Aide would provide c l o s e s u p e r v i s i o n and l i k e l y be r e s p o n s i b l e f o r most of the a c t u a l cooking and handling of money. My focus would be on classroom i n s t r u c t i o n and the running of the coffee concession, while the aide, whose e x p e r t i s e was to be i n food s e r v i c e , would take r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r the k i t c h e n a c t i v i t i e s i n the Seniors' Centre. 10 In classroom sessions students would focus on b u i l d i n g a knowledge base w i t h respect to restaurant jobs, house r u l e s , shopping, b a s i c reading and mathematics. They would l e a r n the terminology used f o r cooking and i n r e s t a u r a n t s . Each student would have an i n d i v i d u a l education p l a n that would i d e n t i f y t h e i r strengths and needs. Plans would r e f l e c t what the i n s t r u c t i o n a l s t a f f viewed as necessary f o r students to l e a r n as stepping stones toward the goal of employment. A task a n a l y s i s would be done on each job, and t h i s a n a l y s i s would be used to teach a l l students i n the same manner to avoid confusion. Some t h i r t e e n years ago when working w i t h p a t i e n t s i n a i n s t i t u t i o n a l s e t t i n g f o r the mentally handicapped I had become qu i t e comfortable w i t h the use of some behavior m o d i f i c a t i o n techniques which had proven s u c c e s s f u l i n pre-v o c a t i o n a l t r a i n i n g . I hadn't r e a l l y thought about i t when I began working on t h i s program, but my d e c i s i o n to do task a n a l y s i s of jobs, teach everyone the same way, and deal w i t h unacceptable behavior using consequences had come from t h i s experience. In a d d i t i o n , v i s i t s to other programs to see what they were doing had allowed me to e a s i l y accept t h i s mode of p r a c t i c e as s t i l l being the best. I thereby g r a t e f u l l y accepted copies of already e s t a b l i s h e d c u r r i c u l u m to use w i t h my students. Why re-i n v e n t the wheel? Then 11 w i t h the help of my teaching a s s i s t a n t Simon, we downgraded some of the Cooks' T r a i n i n g Curriculum to cover anything that we f e l t was missing. In an a r t i c l e by K l i e b a r d (1992) there i s a b r i e f o u t l i n e of Ralph T y l e r ' s R a t i o n a l e . I t reads: T y l e r ' s r a t i o n a l e revolves around four c e n t r a l questions which T y l e r f e e l s need answers i f the process of cur r i c u l u m development i s to proceed: 1. What educational purposes should the school seek to a t t a i n ? 2. What educational experiences can be provided that are l i k e l y to a t t a i n these purposes? 3. How can these educational experiences be e f f e c t i v e l y organized? 4. How can we determine whether these purposes are being attained? (p.153) Having addressed the f i r s t three of the above; 1) the purpose being to a t t a i n the s k i l l s necessary to gain entry l e v e l p o s i t i o n s i n the food s e r v i c e i n d u s t r y ; 2) the experiences, to be hands on t r a i n i n g i n a restaur a n t k i t c h e n augmented w i t h classroom sessions; and 3) the o r g a n i z a t i o n to be very step by step, beginning w i t h the simplest tasks and s l o w l y progressing to the most d i f f i c u l t , we accepted students and began t r a i n i n g . 12 CHAPTER TWO TRAINING What does "Training" Look l i k e ? During the f i r s t year of the program we were known as the T r a n s i t i o n a l T r a i n i n g c l a s s . A name which had been i n use f o r s e v e r a l years and i m p l i e d that those i n the program were not yet ready f o r a re g u l a r c o l l e g e program or to go to work. We had about t h i r t e e n to f i f t e e n students i n the program f o r most of the year. Student hours v a r i e d w i t h most being part-time ranging from s i x to twenty-four hours per week. The d i s a b i l i t i e s of the students were mostly l e a r n i n g d i f f i c u l t i e s , w i t h two wheelchair bound (with m u l t i p l e handicaps), one head i n j u r y , one moderately handicapped and one a u t i s t i c . I ran the concession and classroom a c t i v i t i e s on the second f l o o r of the b u i l d i n g f i v e days a week, having contact w i t h a l l of the students to some degree. Simon worked w i t h approximately four to f i v e students three days a week to run a c a f e t e r i a s t y l e soup and sandwich lunch i n the Seniors' Centre, l o c a t e d i n the basement. 13 The program, the students and the i n s t r u c t i o n a l s t a f f were a l l disconnected from one another. As a r e s u l t l i t t l e contact or d i s c u s s i o n s occurred between Simon and myself. We r a r e l y saw what the other was doing and only worked together one to two hours a week. Much of my day was spent e i t h e r teaching b a s i c mathematics, reading, w r i t i n g , l i f e s k i l l s (time management, money management, communication s k i l l s , personal hygiene) or v o c a t i o n a l s k i l l s r e l a t e d to the running of the concession. Simon focused on food safe, cooking theory, and cooks t r a i n i n g . For me, classroom a c t i v i t i e s had proven the most d i f f i c u l t to teach. During b a s i c mathematics and reading comprehension lessons students would not work independently f o r any length of time without constant coaxing and as s i s t a n c e . In the end I was teaching one to one lessons, w i t h each student working on something d i f f e r e n t . When they got stuck or had f i n i s h e d what they were working on they e i t h e r sat there or c a l l e d f o r my a s s i s t a n c e . I moved f r a n t i c a l l y from one student to the other t r y i n g to keep them a l l busy. As the year progressed attendance became e r r a t i c , which only added to the confusion that e x i s t e d as a r e s u l t of students being part-time and having d i f f e r e n t schedules. When I wanted to teach something to a group i n 14 l i f e s k i l l s , two or three students would be away. I would then have to teach i t again, only t h i s time two or three other students were away. In c o n t r a s t to the classroom a c t i v i t i e s were the k i t c h e n a c t i v i t i e s . Here students seemed to enjoy the hands on tasks of s t o c k i n g the concession, shopping, baking, wrapping, being c a s h i e r , and counting money f o r the bank deposit . They would work independently f o r short periods of time, showing signs of greater i n t e r e s t i n doing w e l l . However, i t was a challenge to i n c l u d e a l l of the students i n k i t c h e n a c t i v i t i e s due to the m o b i l i t y l e v e l s of s e v e r a l students (two p h y s i c a l l y d i s a b l e d and two i n w h e e l c h a i r s ) . A suggestion of a head switch to t u r n on a coffee pot from SET BC as a way to i n v o l v e one of our wheelchair people (who was a l s o non-verbal) to me j u s t d i d n't seem a productive use of h i s time or ours. I t a l s o r a i s e d questions of s a f e t y around the blockage of a i s l e space and the p o t e n t i a l f o r accidents that e x i s t i n a k i t c h e n (for example knives, hot l i q u i d s , hot pots and equipment) even f o r able bodied students when s e v e r a l people are i n a k i t c h e n at the same time. A thought that remains w i t h me from t h i s time was my sense of a discrepancy between what I had upon s e v e r a l occasions f e l t was of i n t e r e s t and m o t i v a t i n g to students 15 versus what t h e i r parents, advocates or even myself wanted them to do. I had o c c a s i o n a l l y n o t i c e d a smile, a g l i n t i n the eye, or a w i l l i n g n e s s to do jobs which took some students out of the c o l l e g e s e t t i n g , while they appeared l i f e l e s s and unmotivated on tasks that kept them i n the classroom. There was a w i l l i n g n e s s to do hands on k i t c h e n a c t i v i t i e s i n c o n t r a s t to what f e l t l i k e the dread of a t e e t h p u l l i n g o peration f o r the classroom a c t i v i t i e s . I began to wonder about doing classroom work and whether t h i s was the best way to teach my students. I a l s o questioned the appropriateness of t h i s program f o r i n d i v i d u a l s who were qu i t e p h y s i c a l l y handicapped. I r e c a l l having thought that being i n c o l l e g e seemed f o r one student more the need of h i s parents than h i s own. This wasn't the f i r s t time such a thought had occurred to me. I t was reminiscent of a time s e v e r a l years ago when handicapped i n d i v i d u a l s who had p r e v i o u s l y l i v e d i n i n s t i t u t i o n s were making statements about being happier l i v i n g i n the community. They were now able to do what others d i d and could have a normal l i f e . For me t h i s had always r a i s e d two questions: What i s normal? Are these words r e a l l y t h i s i n d i v i d u a l ' s words or are they saying them to please someone el s e ? 16 Looking towards next year I began to t h i n k that some entrance c r i t e r i a t a r g e t i n g students who would be p h y s i c a l l y able to partake a c t i v e l y and s a f e l y i n a k i t c h e n s e t t i n g might be warranted. I a l s o f e l t t hat we needed to do more of what had worked the best f o r our students, the hands on t r a i n i n g aspects of the program. As Simon had p r e v i o u s l y been a sous chef and possessed a wealth of knowledge and experience i n the area of food s e r v i c e , a f t e r some d i s c u s s i o n s , we decided to request a s h i f t i n the hours we had begun w i t h . I would give some of my time to Simon, which would allow the soup and sandwich lunch to expand to f i v e days a week. In a d d i t i o n seeking to a l l e v i a t e the d i s j o i n t e d times and disconnectedness that had e x i s t e d , a l l students would have the same hours. We al s o requested access to classroom space i n or near the Seniors' Centre, so that we would a l l be l o c a t e d together. That way most of the program a c t i v i t i e s would occur i n the same area except f o r the student concession which would remain on the second f l o o r . At the end of our f i r s t year I spent a few days c l e a n i n g out my o f f i c e . When the program began I had i n h e r i t e d a l o t of c u r r i c u l u m m a t e r i a l s which I had kept i n case I should need them. As the program was now l e a n i n g h e a v i l y towards ra t h e r s p e c i f i c v o c a t i o n a l t r a i n i n g , I began to weed out anything that was not r e a l l y a p p l i c a b l e to t h i s end. 17 Is there a Difference between "Transitional Training" and "Food Service Worker"? In our second year we changed the name of the program to Food Service Worker, a change which to us i m p l i e d our d e s i r e to no longer be seen as a program f o r s p e c i a l students, but rat h e r a re g u l a r program where students are being t r a i n e d to be restaurant workers. A l l of the students were now f u l l -time (30 hours a week). We had seat s e r v i c e f o r our customers and i n a d d i t i o n to the d a i l y soup and sandwich there was a l s o a s p e c i a l . K i t chen workers dressed i n whites, w i t h servers being d i s t i n g u i s h a b l e i n t h e i r peach c o l o r e d s h i r t s w i t h name tags. We were beginning to look and f u n c t i o n l i k e a r e a l r e s t a u r a n t . By October we had nine students who stayed w i t h us f o r the year. Of these, most were considered l e a r n i n g d i s a b l e d , w i t h one a u t i s t i c and two i n the m i l d to moderate range of mentally handicapped. Near month end, Kevin one of our b e t t e r students was diagnosed w i t h a serious i l l n e s s . We a l l f e l t t e r r i b l e f o r him. Sensing that he had a need to s t i l l come and be pa r t of the program I negotiated w i t h S o c i a l Services and the College to allow him to stay on as a part-time student and 18 attend when he was able. He stayed w i t h us u n t i l the end of the year, o f t e n managing only a few hours a week, h i s determination and commitment never ceasing to amaze me. He had i n c r e d i b l e strength to go on, much more than most people could have done. E a r l y i n the year I remember an i n c i d e n t w i t h Joe, a student who functioned at q u i t e a low l e v e l . He had been washing dishes f o r s e v e r a l days r e t a i n i n g some behavior which I saw as unproductive. He would ask other students and s t a f f where items should be put away even though he already knew. He would wash the dishes so slo w l y that others would be asked to help him. A f t e r t a k i n g a c l o s e r look at the s i t u a t i o n , what he seemed to be gai n i n g from t h i s behavior was a l o t of a t t e n t i o n from s t a f f and students. C a l l i n g him from the ki t c h e n , I proceeded to t e l l him about what I perceived him to be doing. I explained that t h i s was not acceptable behavior and that i t c e r t a i n l y wouldn't be acceptable i n a job s i t u a t i o n . I then informed him that should he choose to do e i t h e r of these things again, that I would send him to the classroom to work on something a l l by hi m s e l f . To my amazement, he r a r e l y d i d t h i s again. When he d i d s t a r t to slow down I reminded him of what we had discussed and he sped up. For someone who was operating at such a low 19 f u n c t i o n a l l e v e l I had not expected such an immediate change i n h i s behavior. Involvement w i t h another student, Samantha, al s o proved to be q u i t e s i g n i f i c a n t . When we accepted her i n t o the program, she appeared to operate at q u i t e a high l e v e l . She had some d i f f i c u l t i e s academically, but seemed to l e a r n i n the k i t c h e n s e t t i n g q u i t e q u i c k l y . My assumption was that she would have no d i f f i c u l t y working through the program and e v e n t u a l l y securing a job i n a r e s t a u r a n t . As time passed she was able to handle a l o t of the planning and cooking d u t i e s . However, what she a l s o began to do, w i t h r e g u l a r i t y , was to t e l l us about personal d i f f i c u l t i e s (fear of pregnancy, abusive b o y f r i e n d s , f a m i l y members being s e r i o u s l y i n j u r e d ) , to i n j u r e h e r s e l f (peeled her f i n g e r w i t h a potato p e e l e r , put her foot through the l i d of a bucket of hot soup, f e l l on some i c e outside and ended up on c r u t c h e s ) , or to c l a i m to have i n j u r e d h e r s e l f a r r i v i n g w i t h an e l a s t i c bandage around her w r i s t and hand. Over the course of the year as she moved from one personal c r i s i s to another, we met on numerous occasions upon which I l i s t e n e d , questioned f o r c l a r i f i c a t i o n , and r e f l e c t e d back to her. This seemed to have the e f f e c t of calming her so that she was e v e n t u a l l y able to resume her work. 2 0 These were the beginnings of my r o l e as counselor. Not only w i t h Joe and Samantha, but w i t h almost a l l of my students I began having one to one meetings to dis c u s s both school and personal d i f f i c u l t i e s they may be having. Classroom sessions were short and r e l e v a n t to the hands on experiences of the r e s t a u r a n t . Students worked hard and f i n i s h e d s e v e r a l of the modules that I had constructed f o r them on restaurant jobs, restaurant terminology, reading r e c i p e s , and b a s i c mathematics s k i l l s . A f t e r marking a m u l t i p l e choice t e s t about restau r a n t jobs, I r e c a l l t h i n k i n g that i t was obvious from the answers which job a student had been t r a i n e d on. The answers r e l a t i n g to t h e i r job were always r i g h t while an understanding of the other jobs was o f t e n unclear. I t seemed that students were b e t t e r at a r t i c u l a t i n g what they had learned i f they a c t u a l l y experienced what we had been t r y i n g to teach them. I f a student's understanding i s b e t t e r when they a c t u a l l y experience a job, then i t made sense to allow them to do d i f f e r e n t jobs. Therefore, not long a f t e r t h i s r e a l i z a t i o n , and f l y i n g i n the face of a commonly he l d b e l i e f that handicapped i n d i v i d u a l s don't handle change 21 w e l l , we began to have students change jobs, no longer t r a i n i n g them f o r j u s t one. Once our students got over the i n i t i a l apprehension of something new, most of them handled the s h i f t i n g of jobs very w e l l . Several of them proved to be q u i t e f l e x i b l e and able to change q u i t e e a s i l y . Students began to work both i n the k i t c h e n and i n the res t a u r a n t . I began to wonder ... who then i s r e s i s t i v e to change? As time went on a kind of camaraderie s t a r t e d to form between the students. This was con t r a r y to my experience where s p e c i a l needs i n d i v i d u a l s more o f t e n attempted to s o c i a l i z e w i t h teachers or advocates, making l i m i t e d or few attempts w i t h one another without a s s i s t a n c e to do so. Five months i n t o the f i r s t semester, the students f e e l i n g q u i t e competent, expressed a d e s i r e to prepare f o r the lunch s e r v i c e on t h e i r own. As we viewed t h e i r l e v e l of s k i l l to be q u i t e high, we complied w i t h t h e i r wishes and l e f t them to prepare f o r lunch. When we returned about t h i r t y minutes before s e r v i c e time, we found that the students were very i n v o l v e d i n preparing the s p e c i a l of the day, P i z z a . However, that was the only t h i n g they were preparing. The other aspects of 22 the menu, the soup and sandwich of the day, had been f o r g o t t e n . For me as an i n s t r u c t o r , I was l e f t w i t h the impression that although these students seemed q u i t e competent and possessed q u i t e high l e v e l s k i l l s , something wasn't working. A month or so l a t e r , Simon was away, l e a v i n g me i n charge of the k i t c h e n a c t i v i t i e s f o r the day. Having a p l a n of what was to occur, I watched to see i f the students were able to f o l l o w through without my a s s i s t a n c e . They d i d q u i t e w e l l , w i t h most of my prompting o c c u r r i n g around my awareness of the time when things needed to be complete. I came away from t h i s experience w i t h a s u s p i c i o n , that these students had very l i t t l e awareness of time. Pursuing t h i s i n a classroom session, students were asked to i d e n t i f y how long i t took to make soup, mash potatoes, cook c a r r o t s , prepare egg s a l a d ; a l l the things they had been doing under our s u p e r v i s i o n f o r s e v e r a l months, on a day to day or week to week b a s i s . What I discovered was that they d i d not know the answers. That i n f a c t , s e v e r a l of the students d i d not know how to read a c l o c k or understand the terms used i n reference to a c l o c k . What I had assumed about these students and about what I 23 needed to teach them i n order to make them employable, needed some adjustment. I n i t i a l l y , I was shocked by t h i s l a c k of time awareness. But as I thought about i t , I began to wonder when would they have ever needed to know. In school the b e l l r i n g s s i g n a l i n g when i t i s time to s t a r t , change c l a s s e s , have lunch or go home. Parents make sure they are up, fed, dressed and d e l i v e r e d to school. B e l l s and people are important, not time. At t h i s p o i n t one t h i n g was obvious, they needed to know how to pl a n . Planning to me meant i d e n t i f y i n g jobs that needed to be done, being able to estimate how much time was needed to do these jobs, to p r i o r i z e them; and when t h i s was a l l done, to make a w r i t t e n p l a n or schedule to use as a guide to accomplish the tas k s . The development of some e f f e c t i v e communication s k i l l s , such as what to ask, how to ask, and of whom to ask i t , a l s o seemed an appropriate g o a l . Armed wi t h these new l e a r n i n g o b j e c t i v e s we began teaching students how to read c l o c k s , to look at the cl o c k before and a f t e r completing a job, to note the time that had passed, and to r e l a t e t h i s to planning. We asked students to look at t h e i r working space and t e l l us what they saw. We l e t them experience what i t was l i k e i f t h e i r choices 24 worked, or i f they d i d not. Based on what they had experienced, we asked them what they might choose to do d i f f e r e n t l y the next time. I f they didn't know an answer, to i d e n t i f y what they needed to ask, of who they should ask i t , and a c t u a l l y f o l l o w through and do t h a t . I t was about t h i s time that we gained our i n c r e d i b l y dedicated volunteer, Jean, a mature Ad u l t B a s i c Education student who had p r e v i o u s l y done t u t o r i n g i n a work study p o s i t i o n . She had expressed an i n t e r e s t i n doing something s i m i l a r i n our program saying that she f e l t a k i n d of k i n s h i p w i t h the students as she had a l s o s t r u g g l e d through school. She i n d i c a t e d that l i s t e n i n g to me teach sounded s i m i l a r to the way her mother had encouraged her when she was a g i r l . U nfortunately, we d i d not have a work study p o s i t i o n f o r her. A short while l a t e r she became a job coach f o r a supported work c l i e n t who was t r a i n i n g i n our program. When t h i s s i t u a t i o n ended, she stayed on as a volunteer during lunch sessions u n t i l she completed her General Education Diploma. I t was then she began a s s i s t i n g i n a l l aspects of the program p u t t i n g i n many hours of her time each week. Jean became my window to how students were doing, might i n t e r p r e t , or f e e l w i t h respect to things that occurred i n the program. S u r p r i s i n g l y , she o f t e n commented that many of 25 the things I asked, l i k e ; What she saw? What she f e l t ? or What she thought?, had never been asked of her before. She of t e n had d i f f i c u l t y answering, but when she d i d , her responses proved to be i n c r e d i b l y i n s i g h t f u l , p r o v i d i n g a v i t a l l i n k between i n s t r u c t i o n a l s t a f f and students. Our i n s t r u c t i o n a l r o l e s were changing s i g n i f i c a n t l y . Rather than g i v i n g i n s t r u c t i o n s on what should be done, Simon, Jean and myself asked questions, w i t h the expectation that our students, t h i n k , evaluate, and suggest change. What we expected, we s t a r t e d to get. Our students began t a k i n g r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r t h e i r own l e a r n i n g . As year end approached things seemed to have gone very w e l l . I had discovered our students' i n a b i l i t y to t e l l or r e l a t e to time. Our students needed to l e a r n how to plan and we needed to l e a r n how to stand back and l e t them do i t . One to one in t e r v i e w s was an e f f e c t i v e way to keep students focused on t h e i r work and t h e i r t r a i n i n g . And r e s u l t i n g from i n c i d e n t s w i t h students that hadn't turned out q u i t e the way I would have expected, I was now a l i t t l e l e s s d e f i n i t e i n my judgments of student c a p a b i l i t i e s and a l i t t l e more open to see things that I may not have n o t i c e d before. 26 Looking to the next year I somehow knew that the a b i l i t y to f u n c t i o n e f f e c t i v e l y as a group was an important f a c t o r i n the success we were experiencing. Therefore, I f e l t t hat some new components which would address t h i s i ssue should be added to the entrance c r i t e r i a . As a r e s u l t we added a three to f i v e day assessment f o r anyone i n t e r e s t e d i n the program. What t h i s meant was that p o t e n t i a l students were re q u i r e d to perform as a working member of the c l a s s f o r s e v e r a l days. During t h i s time we were able to get a good i n d i c a t i o n of whether students were making choices f o r themselves or somebody e l s e had sent them. I t a l s o provided an opportunity to see how a student might f i t i n t o the program, and what f u n c t i o n a l l e v e l s of mathematics, reading, w r i t i n g and v o c a t i o n a l s k i l l s they possessed. Then upon completion of the assessment p e r i o d , a w r i t t e n report was prepared i d e n t i f y i n g what had occurred and g i v i n g recommendations f o r e i t h e r a p p l i c a t i o n to the program or what would need to be improved i n order to become e l i g i b l e at a l a t e r date. P o t e n t i a l students were then able to make informed d e c i s i o n s based on t h e i r experience of being i n the program, our perceptions (Simon, Jean and myself) of how they d i d , and whether they themselves l i k e d i t or not. For me the only other aspect of concern was w i t h respect to program hours. I t had been d i f f i c u l t covering student a c t i v i t i e s e f f e c t i v e l y f o r the t h i r t y hours a week of 27 student contact time w i t h both Simon and myself working part-t i m e . In a d d i t i o n , s i m i l a r to the previous year, we once again had a s u b s t a n t i a l decrease i n the number of students s t i l l a ttending the program during the l a s t few weeks, making t h i s time r a t h e r unproductive. Therefore, we proposed another change f o r the f o l l o w i n g year. We would work the same number of hours only i n a shorter time frame, nine months i n s t e a d of ten. This would all o w us to c a p i t a l i z e on the times when more students were i n the program. I t would a l s o provide more contact time per week wi t h students and more overlap time f o r i n s t r u c t i o n a l s t a f f to work together. In June I spent s e v e r a l hours c l e a n i n g out my o f f i c e and classroom s t i l l l o c a t e d on the second f l o o r of the b u i l d i n g . Next year we were going to have our own classroom down the h a l l from the Seniors' Centre. Not wanting to move anything that wasn't needed, I once again found myself weeding out c u r r i c u l u m m a t e r i a l s that I had not used i n the program. What I moved to my new classroom was now one t h i r d of the o r i g i n a l amount that I had begun w i t h . Reflections My r e c o l l e c t i o n s of the f i r s t two years as I w r i t e them i n greater d e t a i l r e f l e c t very much me and my d e c i s i o n s w i t h 28 respect to the s t r u c t u r e of the program. How to make the best use of time f o r students and i n s t r u c t i o n a l s t a f f ? What motivates students to learn? What content do they need to learn? I t was f o r the most p a r t a very one side d a f f a i r . I was set on my own agenda of making the program run w e l l ; having good attendance, m o t i v a t i n g students, and s e l e c t i n g content that was easy and productive to teach i f you used the r i g h t methods. In a d d i t i o n I sought to e f f e c t i v e l y document our work w i t h assessment forms, progress notes, v o c a t i o n a l s k i l l s check l i s t s , Independent Education Plans, and attendance records as v e r i f i c a t i o n of what we were doing. I was doing everything my teacher t r a i n i n g and my own personal experiences of school had taught me. The how and what of teaching were my p r i o r i t y . L i k e T y l e r ' s r a t i o n a l e the importance of who the students are was somehow l a c k i n g . Likewise, Simon had been attending to h i s agenda, that of running a good restaurant, one that was clean, had good food, and good s e r v i c e . Whose needs are we r e a l l y meeting when we don't i n t i m a t e l y know the students we are supposedly planning f o r ? C o n t r o l , documentation, o b j e c t i v e s and goals are issues of the school and of teachers, not n e c e s s a r i l y the students they teach. I f i n d i t much more d i f f i c u l t to r e c a l l s p e c i f i c instances about students i n these f i r s t few years, who they were as people, and how they d i d t h e i r work except f o r the l a t t e r p a r t of the second year when a f t e r s e v e r a l c r i t i c a l i n c i d e n t s my t h i n k i n g was beginning to s h i f t . I was amazed by Kevin's t e n a c i t y to continue i n the program even though he was so s i c k . To look at him, even when he was w e l l , he was a very small slender man and yet i n con t r a s t to h i s appearance, he had demonstrated more strengt h than I ever would have expected from him. Joe presented as^someone w i t h q u i t e low f u n c t i o n a l a b i l i t i e s , yet, he ceased doing what I perceived as unproductive behavior a f t e r one d i s c u s s i o n . A d i s c u s s i o n i n which I i d e n t i f i e d f o r him that I saw h i s behavior as a t t e n t i o n seeking and not appropriate f o r a work s i t e . The i n c i d e n t when students were making p i z z a , which made me look more c l o s e l y at what students were r e a l l y doing, l e a d i n g to an awareness that I was p r o v i d i n g the t i m i n g cues i n s t e a d of the c l o c k . Gordon Wells (1994) i n Changing Schools from Within: C r e a t i n g Communities of I n q u i r y speaks of c r i t i c a l i n c i d e n t s as being: ... occasions when something unexpected l e d me to look 30 more c l o s e l y at my assumptions and, by r e f l e c t i n g on what I was doing and why, to a r r i v e at a deeper understanding of the complex of motives, b e l i e f s and a t t i t u d e s that i n f l u e n c e s my p r a c t i c e on p a r t i c u l a r occasions, (p.273) I t seems that to some degree I had begun to engage i n j u s t such a process. Things had g e n e r a l l y been moving towards being the way I had intended them to be. The students were pro g r e s s i n g and the next step which seemed r e a l i s t i c a l l y a t t a i n a b l e was that our students would now go on to get jobs. Or so I thought... CHAPTER THREE 31 SOME EMERGING THEMES Communication, Behavior and Patterns In our t h i r d year the business i n the restaur a n t was in c r e a s i n g , and along w i t h i t the need to work together. However, the increased work load brought increased s t r e s s and many c o n f l i c t i v e s i t u a t i o n s began to occur between students. My r o l e of counselor began t a k i n g more of my time. In a d d i t i o n to biweekly meetings w i t h each student, I. spent much of my time observing and c a p i t a l i z i n g on teachable moments as communication d i f f i c u l t i e s occurred during the r e g u l a r workings of the program. Was that an I, or a you message? Who owns the problem? These were commonly asked questions during the course of a day. We a l s o began h o l d i n g r e g u l a r e v a l u a t i o n sessions, something which I borrowed from I n s t r u c t i o n a l S k i l l s F a c i l i t a t o r T r a i n i n g . My o b j e c t i v e was that students l e a r n to i d e n t i f y what was happening i n the restaurant without f i n g e r p o i n t i n g at one another. Students were asked to look at t h e i r production as a group by d e s c r i b i n g the behavior of themselves and others i n terms of what had worked w e l l and what had not. We then sought t h e i r suggestions of how i t could be done d i f f e r e n t l y and more p r o d u c t i v e l y the next time. Their awareness of where things went wrong and how to change them the next time, grew. What was most o f t e n i d e n t i f i e d as being a major d i f f i c u l t y was the l a c k of a good planning sheet or poor communication between students. I r e c a l l one lunch s e s s i o n that was p a r t i c u l a r l y c h a o t i c . As the next day's p r e p a r a t i o n and clean-up began, one of the second year students s t a t e d q u i t e l o u d l y , "I can't stand i t , I'm going to the classroom to do a planning sheet!" I could only smile. I began to ho l d more formal classroom sessions on communication, d e a l i n g w i t h such subjects as I and You messages; a s s e r t i v e , aggressive, and passive behavior; f a m i l y values; s e l f esteem. There were c l a s s sessions where I had students p r a c t i c e d e s c r i b i n g the behavior of others. Students would be asked to watch as Simon or I would perform some a c t i v i t y such as c a r r y i n g a t r a y , moving a t a b l e , or s i t t i n g i n a c h a i r ; and to then describe the a c t i o n s and f a c i a l expressions. On other occasions students might be asked to work i n a group to perform a task while others would be assigned to watch and record t h e i r a c t i o n s . We would then t a l k about how that behavior might be seen and what i t might mean. What came out of these sessions was an awareness that there are o f t e n 33 many p o s s i b i l i t i e s and that one could only guess. You had to ask to be sure. I t was about t h i s time that I became aware of the e f f e c t that a. why question had on my students. I t was l i k e throwing up a road block i n f r o n t of them. Almost every time, and wi t h every student, i f a question began wi t h why they d i d not respond. Questions that I began w i t h how, when, what or where however, were almost always met w i t h some attempt at an answer. Sharing t h i s i n f o r m a t i o n w i t h Simon and Jean we a l l began making conscious e f f o r t s to not use the word why. What stands out v i v i d l y from t h i s year was the laughter. Everything we d i d was fun, e x c i t i n g . We could laugh at the mistakes, we could laugh at ourselves. Student behavior had changed s i g n i f i c a n t l y . During k i t c h e n sessions most of the work was now being done by the students w i t h very l i t t l e prompting on the p a r t of i n s t r u c t o r s . Student p a r t i c i p a t i o n during classroom sessions increased considerably. They o f t e n requested more mathematics p r a c t i c e or to have a communication s e s s i o n . Students a l s o began s o c i a l i z i n g w i t h one another outside of c l a s s . They would phone each other and o f t e n organize a night out. As a way of checking to see i f the s k i l l s 34 students were l e a r n i n g would t r a n s f e r i n t o an employment s i t u a t i o n , we had o c c a s i o n a l l y begun p l a c i n g students on work experience i n the community. Being i n f u l l - t i m e attendance and having r e c e n t l y r e c e i v e d a clean b i l l of h e a l t h , Kevin was the f i r s t to do a work experience at a l o c a l r e s t a u r a n t . A f t e r s e v e r a l weeks of doing q u i t e w e l l , he was r e t a i n e d as a dishwasher and prep cook i n a supported work s i t u a t i o n . When the time p e r i o d f o r the supported work was up, we r e c e i v e d the feedback that there had been some problems regarding food s a n i t a t i o n p r a c t i c e s and that the q u a l i t y of h i s work was j u s t not good enough to keep him on, when they would have to pay the f u l l wage. At t h i s p o i n t , we took him back i n t o the program and continued working on h i s s k i l l l e v e l and reviewing some things that seemed to have been f o r g o t t e n . Several months went by wi t h not a l o t of progress. Simon, being aware of Kevin's i n t e r e s t i n computers managed to set up another work experience where he was to input data i n t o a computer i n the back of a computer s t o r e . I n i t i a l l y , the work experience s t a r t e d o f f q u i t e w e l l . The owner was i n d i c a t i n g that he was doing a reasonable job. As time passed we began r e c e i v i n g reports of h i s making a number of e r r o r s , and i f t h i s wasn't bad enough; having been t o l d that he was not supposed to have anything to do w i t h 35 customers, upon occasion he was coming i n t o the f r o n t of the store and i n t e r j e c t i n g comments about computers i n t o conversations between the salesman and the customers. Needless to say, t h i s was the end of the work experience. Once again Kevin returned to the program. I wondered what was going wrong? I decided to look at h i s behavior. What was i t saying about him? What things d i d he r e s i s t doing, even though I knew he could do them w e l l ? What things was he choosing to do on h i s own? He didn't l i k e k i t c h e n jobs as he o f t e n ignored an i n s t r u c t i o n or attempted to give the job to someone e l s e . He enjoyed doing concession where he s o l d a number of items and took cash. He was choosing to seek out people when t r y i n g to get i n v o l v e d i n the s a l e s of the computers. Would he make a good waiter? G i v i n g him t h i s new job, we stood back and watched to see what would happen. What we saw was s e l f - d i r e c t e d behavior and q u i t e appropriate s o c i a l i n t e r a c t i o n w i t h customers. I saw a good w a i t e r , one I could r e l y on and not watch l i k e a hawk. Time f o r another work experience, as a w a i t e r . When the work experience was complete Kevin was h i r e d f o r s i x months wi t h a subsidy. When the s i x months was over, he was kept on f o r another s i x months without a subsidy before he was l a i d o f f . 36 Approximately a year l a t e r we asked him to come and help us out, as some of our students were i l l . He hadn't done any s e r v i n g f o r almost a year. Although he forgot a few thi n g s , he f i t back i n almost as i f he had never l e f t . He was s e l f - d i r e c t e d , asked questions to access the inf o r m a t i o n he needed to know, and was s o c i a l l y appropriate w i t h customers. In Samantha's second year i n the program the chaos around personal d i f f i c u l t i e s that we had experienced w i t h her i n her f i r s t year resumed. When we put her out on a work experience, we r e c e i v e d the report that she was sometimes not showing up, and at other times had c a l l e d i n s i c k , none of which she was keeping us informed of. When we t a l k e d to her about i t , she t o l d us that she couldn't work w i t h the cook at the h o t e l because t h i s woman, being the mother of an o l d b o y f r i e n d , d i d not l i k e her. Once again, I turned my a t t e n t i o n towards behavior. What was t h i s behavior achieving? I t was monopolizing and ho l d i n g enormous amounts of teacher time as w e l l as drawing concern from the r e s t of the students. For what purpose? I couldn't f i g u r e i t out. In about A p r i l , the f r u s t r a t i o n of d e a l i n g w i t h Samantha's up and downs had brought me to the r e a l i z a t i o n t hat whatever was happening f o r her, i t was not something I 3 7 could help her w i t h i n t h i s program. I accepted that she would not be employable u n t i l she could change t h i s behavior, and that she l i k e l y needed p r o f e s s i o n a l help to accomplish t h i s . As I' began to compile some notes i n p r e p a r a t i o n f o r a meeting w i t h Samantha's guardians, I began to n o t i c e that since the beginning of the year, what had been t a k i n g place was a repeat performance of many of the same or s u s p i c i o u s l y s i m i l a r s t o r i e s and s i t u a t i o n s from the previous year. They even seemed to be o c c u r r i n g at the same time of the year and i n the same order. A f t e r conferencing w i t h Samantha and her guardians, she withdrew from the program to seek p r o f e s s i o n a l help, w i t h the understanding that she could r e t u r n to complete at a l a t e r date. For me, what stood out so v i v i d l y from t h i s experience, was the r e p e t i t i o n of the behavior; there was a p a t t e r n to i t ! Who's Teaching Who? In the summer of 1992 I was asked to teach a one week ass e r t i v e n e s s course f o r Job Re-entry students during which a c l a s s s e ssion on f a m i l y values proved memorable. Beginning as usual, I asked students to i d e n t i f y three values from a l i s t of twelve; values that had been the most 38 important i n t h e i r f a m i l y as they were growing up. Their choices coming from the f o l l o w i n g : 1. d i s c i p l i n e 2. acceptance 3. p r o p r i e t y 4. r e s p o n s i b i l i t y 5. economic s e c u r i t y 6. education 7. u n i t y 8. respect f o r each other 9. l o y a l t y 10. humor 11. togetherness 12. s p i r i t u a l involvement Once i d e n t i f i e d , what I u s u a l l y i n s t r u c t e d students to do was to keep t h e i r choices to themselves. The purpose of the e x e r c i s e was to r a i s e t h e i r own awareness. However, t h i s time f o r some unknown reason, I decided to ask students to share the three values they had chosen, whereupon I would put a t i c k on a chart I had made on the board. Almost a l l of them chose the same or s i m i l a r values. D i s c i p l i n e P r o p r i e t y (manners) Respect For Each Other S p i r i t u a l Involvement At the end of the day t h i s i n f o r m a t i o n was s t i l l on the board. Looking at i t a second time, what I suddenly 39 recognized l e f t me stunned. Something so obvious, I missed i t the f i r s t time. In combination the values that had been i d e n t i f i e d , h e l d an expectation of being subservient. Coming from these b e l i e f s one would most assuredly l e a r n to r e l y on the acceptance and d i r e c t i o n of others more powerful than one s e l f . In the f a l l of that year I repeated t h i s e x e r c i s e w i t h the Food Service students to f i n d s i m i l a r r e s u l t s . Many of them had chosen the same values w i t h d i s c i p l i n e and respect f o r others being the top two. What s t r u c k me was that having discussed what these words a c t u a l l y meant to my students, respect was not f o r others but r a t h e r f o r the person who was doing the d i s c i p l i n i n g . With both of these groups what was a c t u a l l y the most s u r p r i s i n g , was what they d i d not choose: Education R e s p o n s i b i l i t y Acceptance These were the values that the students, when asked to t h i n k about i t , were able to i d e n t i f y as being important i n the Food Service Program. I v e r b a l i z e d my thoughts about how 40 d i f f i c u l t i t must be to adjust to a program that i s so d i f f e r e n t from what they are used t o . For me t h i s experience o f f e r e d some i n s i g h t i n t o why i t had been so d i f f i c u l t to motivate my students to t h i n k and act f o r themselves. They r e a l l y had no understanding of what i t meant or f e l t l i k e to do t h i s . I r a Shor (1987) i n C r i t i c a l Teaching and Everyday L i f e presents a s i m i l a r viewpoint. The s e l f - d i s c i p l i n e and mutual dialogue of a l i b e r a t o r y classroom w i l l be as threatening as they are empowering to students who have been co n d i t i o n e d to await orders.. While nominally only a s k i l l s - t r a i n i n g c urriculum, v o c a t i o n a l i s m thus creates a whole authority-dependent p e r s o n a l i t y . I t i s a soci a l - p s y c h o l o g y f o r a dominated character, (p.51) This quote a l s o r a i s e s something that I had a growing awareness of, the d i f f e r e n c e between a " t r a i n i n g " program and educating students f o r independent thought and a c t i o n . F e e l i n g that many of the things I had chosen to do worked w e l l f o r these students and wondering whether they would a l s o prove productive i n another s e t t i n g , i n my f o u r t h year I added another part-time program to my work load. 41 A new venture f o r the c o l l e g e and again a p a r t n e r s h i p , t h i s program was to be i n conjunction w i t h the p s y c h i a t r i c u n i t of the l o c a l h o s p i t a l . Students were ex-patients who had been diagnosed and t r e a t e d f o r e i t h e r schizophrenia or b i - p o l a r i l l n e s s e s . The s u c c e s s f u l r e - i n t e g r a t i o n of these students i n t o the community was the intended outcome of t h i s program. With an occupational t h e r a p i s t as my c o - i n s t r u c t o r we began w i t h a tour of e x i s t i n g programs i n the Vancouver area. Upon our r e t u r n we assessed and s e l e c t e d e i g h t students, who not i n t e n t i o n a l l y were a l l women. Deciding on the name of S o c i a l Learning the program began i n mid September. Sessions were h e l d three times a week f o r two hours each, w i t h Sarah, the occupational t h e r a p i s t focusing on teaching the content we had decided upon, while I pursued what was becoming i n c r e a s i n g l y of i n t e r e s t to me, communication and behavior. As wi t h the Food Service Program I incorporated t h i s i n t o the re g u l a r workings of the c l a s s i d e n t i f y i n g things as they occurred which seemed out of place to me. These would then be t a l k e d about and examined along w i t h any content we might be studying. Being the i n s t r u c t o r on two programs allowed f o r some i n t e g r a t i o n of these students. There were s e v e r a l occasions during the year when Simon taught something about cooking, we h e l d j o i n t f u n c t i o n s , or some of the S o c i a l Learning 42 students would volunteer to help w i t h a banquet i n the Seniors' Centre. Food Service and S o c i a l Learning students became q u i t e comfortable w i t h one another. E a r l y i n the year I became aware of another p a t t e r n w i t h s e v e r a l of the Food Service students. Their behavior would change q u i t e markedly from the beginning of the week to the end of the week, or from the beginning of a semester to the end of a semester. Students would move from being very dependent f o r a s s i s t a n c e , to being q u i t e independent, and then back to being dependent again. What were the d i f f e r e n c e s between being at school and where they went when they weren't i n school? What was becoming evident to me as each week, month, and year went by, was that I was spending i n c r e a s i n g l y more of my time focusing on observable behavior and asking myself questions that I could not answer. The answers to my questions would have to come from my students. I f e l t t hat somewhere i n s i d e of them were the answers, answers that were vunique to each of them because of who they were and t h e i r experiences i n l i f e . I t was from the S o c i a l Learning group that a student s u r f a c i n g from a very i n d e c i s i v e s t a r t e v e n t u a l l y had q u i t e an impact on me. During her assessment she made no eye 4 3 contact, spoke i n a very quiet v o i c e , and w i t h each task presented was unable to make any f i r m d e c i s i o n s , always f e a r i n g that another one would be b e t t e r . She c o n t i n u a l l y changed her mind rendering h e r s e l f h e l p l e s s , making no d e c i s i o n at a l l . When she began i n the program she was l i v i n g i n a boarding home which she had r e s i d e d i n f o r approximately three years. Within three months, C r y s t a l began changing. Moving to her own apartment and not wanting to be on welfare, she found part-time work which earned her j u s t enough money to l i v e on. She c o n s t a n t l y amazed me as to j u s t how l i t t l e she could get by on, yet s t i l l m a i n t a ining an a i r of s t y l e and d i g n i t y . In the confines of our classroom she was o f t e n w i t t y , c r e a t i v e , e n t h u s i a s t i c . During the year there were s e v e r a l occasions when she f e l l i n t o despair w r i t i n g lengthy l e t t e r s d e t a i l i n g her anguish. Her use of language was l i k e nothing I had ever encountered before w i t h many of her words being u n f a m i l i a r to me. She was w r i t i n g to say that she could not stay i n the program because she saw h e r s e l f as somehow being d e f e c t i v e and could never be l i k e other people. As there was something about her that i n t r i g u e d me, my response to her w r i t i n g was to seek her out. We would have conversations about what she was experiencing, a f t e r which she would agree to c a r r y on. 44 I r e c a l l one day when she was p a r t i c u l a r l y d i s t r a u g h t . She wouldn't make eye contact and was hunched over c r y i n g and turned away from me. As we t a l k e d she began to change. Within f i f t e e n to twenty minutes she was s i t t i n g f a c i n g me, making eye contact and c a r r y i n g on an i n t e l l i g e n t c onversation. A question to myself at t h i s p o i n t was how could someone who has a mental i l l n e s s change from being so d i s t r a u g h t and h e l p l e s s , to w i t t y and capable i n such a short space of time? Having once worked i n an i n s t i t u t i o n f o r the mentally i l l where medication, shock therapy and psychotherapy over lengthy periods of time hadn't produced such dramatic changes i n behavior, what I had experienced w i t h C r y s t a l j u s t didn't f i t . Another r a t h e r i n t e r e s t i n g d i s c o v e r y a r i s i n g out of work w i t h t h i s group, was what appeared to be an i n a b i l i t y to be s p e c i f i c about a problem. D e s c r i p t i o n s o f f e r e d by students were o f t e n very general and l a c k i n g i n d e t a i l . For example, i f something was described as bad, what s p e c i f i c a l l y made i t bad could not be i d e n t i f i e d without considerable prompting from i n s t r u c t o r s . Thinking about the e f f e c t t h i s would have on an i n d i v i d u a l , a l a c k of s p e c i f i c i t y would make i t impossible to i d e n t i f y a problem. I f you can't i d e n t i f y i t , then you can't develop a plan of a c t i o n to change i t . You would be h e l p l e s s , needing to r e l y on others to take care of you. I was al s o aware of b e h a v i o r a l changes as we progressed through the year. The most obvious set backs and returns to higher l e v e l s of f u n c t i o n o c c u r r i n g around h o l i d a y s such as Christmas, or the anniversary dates of s i g n i f i c a n t l i f e events. I found myself wondering whether these might a l s o be p a r t of a p a t t e r n . Something that was common w i t h a l l of my students since beginning work at the c o l l e g e which a l s o h e l d true f o r t h i s group, was t h e i r r e s i s t a n c e to sessions on communication s k i l l s . With Food Service and S o c i a l Learning, when I i n i t i a l l y t r i e d to hold c l a s s e s e n t i t l e d Communication S k i l l s I was unable to proceed because of e r r a t i c attendance. As non-attendance i n the job re- e n t r y group had a monetary consequence, t h e i r r e s i s t a n c e played out i n a s l i g h t l y d i f f e r e n t f a s h i o n . Here, there were s e v e r a l students who c o n t i n u a l l y went i n and out of the classroom door during lessons. At the end of the week my classroom door needed r e p a i r , as i t was no longer working p r o p e r l y . 46 An,unspoken requirement of Communication S k i l l s i s that one needs to look at oneself, which as behavior would i n d i c a t e i s a very uncomfortable t h i n g to do i n a formal classroom s i t u a t i o n . I was able to get around t h i s w i t h the Food Service students by f i r s t b u i l d i n g a personal l i n k w i t h each of them. Once t h i s l i n k was e s t a b l i s h e d I could then i d e n t i f y and use r e a l experiences i n the restaurant as examples. E v e n t u a l l y , they were comfortable enough wi t h what I was doing that I could f o r m a l l y take i t back i n t o a classroom s e t t i n g . The S o c i a l Learning group r e s i s t e d any e f f o r t s to do communication s k i l l s u n t i l almost three months i n t o the year. By then a r e l a t i o n s h i p of t r u s t had been e s t a b l i s h e d . The job re-entry group had been d i f f i c u l t and at times ra t h e r v o l a t i l e to work with , but by weeks end they were qu i t e p o s i t i v e about the experiences we had shared, more t r u s t f u l of me, and more p o s i t i v e about themselves. Of the eigh t women who p a r t i c i p a t e d i n the S o c i a l Learning Program, f i v e made q u i t e dramatic progress during that year and to my knowledge are s t i l l doing w e l l . As f o r C r y s t a l by year end she was working two jobs, had attended a night school c l a s s and was e l e c t e d by her peers to be t h e i r r e p r e s e n t a t i v e on the S o c i a l Learning Advisory Committee. 47 Further Reflections Four years had passed during which time I had witnessed so many unusual events. Events that had changed much of my o r i g i n a l t h i n k i n g and approach to persons w i t h d i s a b i l i t i e s . I had f a l l e n i n t o a p a t t e r n of observing, r e f l e c t i n g and a c t i n g , c o n s t a n t l y moving from one experience to another as they might catch my i n t e r e s t or arouse my s u s p i c i o n s . This p a t t e r n I l a t e r discovered could f o r m a l l y be i d e n t i f i e d as a c t i o n research. McCutcheon and Jung (1990) i n t h e i r paper t i t l e d " A l t e r n a t i v e Perspectives on A c t i o n Research" o f f e r t h i s d e s c r i p t i o n , "While p e r s p e c t i v e s and methodologies vary, by 'ac t i o n research' here we mean i n q u i r y teachers undertake to understand and improve t h e i r own pr a c t i c e " ( p . 1 4 4 ) . C a p i t a l i z i n g on what I had learned from my observations, r e f l e c t i o n s and a c t i o n s , I had stopped planning but rat h e r p r e f e r r e d to draw on and expand upon things as they unfolded before me. Classroom sessions o f t e n s t a r t e d from a question or a s i t u a t i o n w i t h respect to something that had occurred during the day. I f e l t I was l e a r n i n g as much as I was teaching. I discovered that i f I allowed students to draw on each other 48 to f i n d the answers to a problem, that they very o f t e n came up wi t h what I would have taught them and almost always a few things I would not. Classroom sessions became a l i v e and r i c h w i t h p o s s i b i l i t i e s . Along w i t h my enthusiasm f o r what was o c c u r r i n g i n my programs was a growing discomfort about pursuing a c t i v i t i e s which d i d not f i t my understanding of how and what I should be teaching to my students. V o c a t i o n a l Training"was t a k i n g p l a c e , but i t was by no means my primary focus. My r o l e was no longer that of an i n s t r u c t o r as I understood i t to be, but r a t h e r more h e a v i l y l e a n i n g towards counseling. But even counselor d i d not r e a l l y f i t what I was doing. I was somewhere i n between. I r a Shor (1987) i n C r i t i c a l Teaching and Everyday L i f e speaks of a teacher having m u l t i p l e r o l e s i n a l i b e r a t o r y classroom. The teacher accepts a v a r i e t y of r o l e s , at o s c i l l a t i n g d istances from the a c t i o n . The teacher i s the person whose i n t e l l e c t u a l s k i l l s make her or him re s p o n s i b l e f o r provoking conceptual l i t e r a c y i n the c r i t i c a l study of a subject area. However, as the process takes, the teacher i s not always the l e a d i n g f a c t o r i n c l a s s . A f t e r c a t a l y z i n g d i s c u s s i o n , at moments of the greatest 49 success, the teacher experiences a d i s s o l u t i o n , blending i n t o the group d e l i b e r a t i o n . At moments of p a r t i a l or f u l l breakdown, the teacher experiences her or h i s r o l e r e c o n s t i t u t e d , separated out f o r the r e s t o r a t i o n of the process, (p.101) This d e s c r i p t i o n o f f e r s a more accurate p i c t u r e of how I was choosing to be w i t h my students. I began to see myself as c o n s t a n t l y changing r o l e s according to what I perceived to be needed at a p a r t i c u l a r p o i n t i n time. My i n t e n t i o n always being to maintain a c o l l a b o r a t i v e l e a r n i n g environment f o r my students. I had a need to document what was a c t u a l l y happening so that others might a l s o b e n e f i t from t h i s process. I f e l t that I had discovered so many u s e f u l things but I a l s o had the sense that i t was only the t i p of something very complicated and by no means c l e a r to me. Much of what I chose to do i n a given s i t u a t i o n seemed i n t u i t i v e , I had no explanation f o r why I chose to do what I d i d , I only knew deep down i n s i d e that i t was what needed to happen. The l a t t e r seems to imply the existence and use of t a c i t knowledge. A l t r i c h t e r et a l (1993) o f f e r s t h i s d e s c r i p t i o n , " ' t a c i t knowledge' which i s the r e s u l t of our experience but, normally, not d i r e c t l y and c o n s c i o u s l y at our d i s p o s a l " ( p . 2 5 ) . 50 Seeking to understand why I d i d what I d i d , when the opportunity to begin a Masters Program arose i n 1993 I made i t my goal to seek c l a r i f i c a t i o n of what I had been experiencing over the past four years. I wanted to be able to w r i t e about i t and share i t w i t h others. From course work completed i n the summer of 1993, aspects of theory drawn from Family Therapy seemed to f i t f o r much of the behavior I had been watching, w i t h d e s c r i p t i o n s of r e c u r s i v e patterns of behavior, f a m i l y s t r u c t u r e , boundaries, p a r e n t a l and s i b l i n g subsystems. I was e x c i t e d as i t o f f e r e d some c l a r i t y to the things I had been w i t n e s s i n g w i t h students over the past few years, a framework from which I could p o s i t numerous p o s s i b i l i t i e s . I came away w i t h the f e e l i n g that I had somehow created a pseudo-family f o r my students to dwell i n . I t al s o gave me some other things to consider. What r u l e s , s t r u c t u r e , boundaries, r o l e s , and r e c i p r o c i t y i n behavior were o c c u r r i n g i n my classroom, i n the ki t c h e n , and i n the restaurant? 51 CHAPTER FOUR MORE THEMES R e l a t i o n s h i p s and Roles When the Food Service Program began again i n September,1993 my a t t e n t i o n was on the i n t e r a c t i v e behavior o c c u r r i n g between those i n v o l v e d i n the program; students w i t h each other, students w i t h i n s t r u c t o r s , students w i t h volunteers, students w i t h practicum students, and students w i t h customers. What I began to n o t i c e were s u b t l e to dramatic changes i n student behavior and p r o d u c t i v i t y depending on who they worked w i t h . There seemed to be a po i n t , where i f students were helped too much, what a c t u a l l y occurred was that they ceased much of t h e i r independent behavior, r e v e r t i n g back i n t o seeking support and guidance. My need to understand, motivated me to ask questions of my students as to what t h e i r behavior was saying about them? What d i d i t mean? Where had i t come from? What purpose was i t s e r v i n g f o r them? When observing something d i f f e r e n t from what seemed t h e i r normal behavior, I would describe i t to them and then ask them to w r i t e i n t h e i r j o u r n a l about t h e i r awareness of what was d i f f e r e n t or happening f o r them at that time. My students responded to my observations and questions. What 52 followed, through j o u r n a l w r i t i n g and one to one i n t e r v i e w s was the i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of themes and s i m i l a r experiences they had had i n the past. Then together we sought understanding and meanings as to why they d i d what they d i d , f e l t as they d i d , and whether they r e a l l y wanted to stay as they were, or make a commitment to change things f o r themselves. As students shared t h e i r s t o r i e s , what surfaced was the r e p e t i t i o n of behavior p a t t e r n s , r e p e t i t i o n of themes, r e p e t i t i o n of s i m i l a r r e l a t i o n s h i p s , w i t h the beginnings almost always going back i n t o t h e i r childhood, t h e i r f a m i l i e s of o r i g i n . Watching i n t e r a c t i o n s i n the program and a l s o i n other aspects of my l i f e , I o f t e n had the f e e l i n g that what I was seeing was to some degree a r e - c r e a t i o n of the environment one came from. As I watched, over a p e r i o d of time I would b u i l d a p i c t u r e from the b i t s and pieces of c o n f l i c t i v e i n t e r a c t i o n s I witnessed. The r e s u l t being that my best guesses about what might be happening f o r students proved to be g a i n i n g i n accuracy. Reasonable explanations f o r t h e i r present behavior could o f t e n be uncovered by g a i n i n g an awareness of past experiences. 53 E l i z a b e t h Grosz (1990) i n Jacques Lacan: A Feminist I n t r o d u c t i o n presents some of Freud's t h e o r i z i n g which o f f e r s a d e s c r i p t i o n of something s i m i l a r . In short, i n t e r v e n i n g at some time between the f i r s t and second scene, the c h i l d comes to know, or be able to understand, the meaning of the f i r s t scene. The memory of t h i s scene has been repressed or removed from consciousness. When the second scene occurs, and r e c a l l s the f i r s t , the c h i l d r e a c t s r e t r o s p e c t i v e l y to the l a t t e r ' s meaning, (p.53) This process allowed me to see my students from another p e r s p e c t i v e . A p e r s p e c t i v e which was coming from a deepened understanding and a b i l i t y to empathize w i t h who they were. Int e r p e r s o n a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s and an i n a b i l i t y to act e f f e c t i v e l y i n them, were very o f t e n h o l d i n g my students back. A lar g e p a r t of t h i s seemed to be learned behavior which they unconsciously repeated time and again. I began to look at a l l behavior as s e r v i n g some purpose and that i t e x i s t e d f o r a reason. I f students could understand where the behavior came from, could see that i t was no longer u s e f u l to them, i t might be p o s s i b l e f o r them to make a conscious e f f o r t to change i t . 54 E a r l y i n the year, C r y s t a l (from the S o c i a l Learning c l a s s ) being somewhat i n t e r e s t e d i n becoming a student i n the Food Service Program, came f o r an assessment. She d i d qui t e w e l l , but to be f u l l - t i m e presented some d i f f i c u l t i e s because she was s t i l l m a intaining some part-time work. I al s o had concerns that the commitment of t h i r t y hours of c l a s s time per week was a rat h e r l a r g e jump from the s i x hours she was used t o . A f t e r some d i s c u s s i o n s , a schedule that would accommodate her was agreed upon. Because she had d i f f i c u l t y being around too many people, C r y s t a l began working i n the k i t c h e n doing d i s h washing and food p r e p a r a t i o n . In a d d i t i o n I sought to give her e x t r a challenges hoping to draw out a c r e a t i v e side she had shown during the S o c i a l Learning c l a s s i n the previous year. I r e c a l l her a r r i v a l i n c l a s s one day wit h some mini bagels she had baked that morning which were e x c e l l e n t ! Later that year she c o n t r i b u t e d the most b e a u t i f u l cookies, a l l q u i t e d i f f e r e n t . She had decorated them using white i c i n g , red candy and black l i c o r i c e p u l l e d i n t o f i n e strands. With these items she had created umbrellas, faces and s e v e r a l other unique designs. They were so impressive i t was a shame to eat them. I t was becoming i n c r e a s i n g l y d i s t u r b i n g to me j u s t how many of these students were unaware of t h e i r strengths while 55 o f t e n h o l d i n g t h e i r d i s a b i l i t y out f r o n t , l i k e a banner. They seemed to use t h e i r d i s a b i l i t i e s too o f t e n as a reason not to t r y , or as a reason f o r l a c k of success i n the past. They l i v e d out the l a b e l that someone e l s e had attached to them — someone who saw t h e i r weaknesses not t h e i r s trengths. I could see much streng t h and c r e a t i v i t y i n C r y s t a l and i t became important to me, to help her see and recognize i t too. I became convinced that a stronger more independent side e x i s t e d i n a l l of my students which w i t h renewed v i g o r on my p a r t , I intended to f i n d . Holding s t r o n g l y to these b e l i e f s , when Joe a r r i v e d one day i n November f o r a v i s i t and to have lunch, I began to wonder about what more we could have taught him i f he were i n the program now. When he had completed Le v e l One two years ago, I had the o p i n i o n that f u r t h e r progress was u n l i k e l y , and had encouraged him to seek employment. Last year he had returned and Simon h i r e d him as a part-time dishwasher f o r a few months when we were extremely busy. I s t a r t e d to r e c a l l i n my mind the things Joe had been p a r t i c u l a r l y good at . He had an i n c r e d i b l e memory. I f he met you once he remembered your name and i f you t o l d him your b i r t h date he remembered that too. His b a s i c 5 6 mathematics and s p e l l i n g were b e t t e r than most of the other students, and although he took a l i t t l e longer to l e a r n something, once he got i t he didn't f o r g e t . He l i k e d people, although h i s conversation was o f t e n awkward. He a l s o kept coming back r e g u l a r l y to v i s i t the program. Should we take him back i n t o the program and t r a i n him as a waiter? D i s c u s s i n g t h i s thought w i t h Simon, we decided to ask Joe i f coming back i n t o the program as a student was something he would l i k e to do? The answer was yes. I t was now my s u s p i c i o n that Joe had a learned set of behaviors that made those around him b e l i e v e he was incapable of t h i n k i n g or i n i t i a t i n g much on h i s own. I t had always been mine and everyone e l s e ' s p a t t e r n to give up a f t e r one or two attempts at g e t t i n g an i n t e l l i g e n t answer from him. I, t h e r e f o r e , increased my attempts to four and f i v e t r i e s at rewording and r e d e s c r i b i n g . As I p e r s i s t e d I made i t known to him that I b e l i e v e d he knew the answers. My questions were about things r e l a t e d to h i s new job as a w a i t e r , what he saw customers doing, and then based on t h i s i n f o r m a t i o n what he thought he should do next. My perseverance p a i d o f f . He began to answer my questions. He began to dress-up i n h i s best c l o t h e s to be at work. One day he was so aware of what was happening i n the d i n i n g 57 room, he covered f o r the other w a i t e r s , p i c k i n g up on t h i n g s they had missed. These changes i n Joe's behavior were happening very q u i c k l y compared to the l a s t time he had been i n the program. But h i s a b i l i t y to f u n c t i o n at t h i s l e v e l was not yet c o n s i s t e n t . Even so, i f he wasn't able to t h i n k f o r himself, how could he do i t at a l l ? Joe progressed s t e a d i l y u n t i l about March, when h i s a t t e n t i o n s began to t u r n to other i s s u e s , g i r l s and moving out on h i s own. As these issues became more of a p r i o r i t y , they seemed to consume him which i n t u r n a f f e c t e d h i s work. He began doing very i n a p p r o p r i a t e things i n the d i n i n g room to which Simon would react w i t h d i s a p p r o v a l and send him to the classroom, a p a t t e r n which began o c c u r r i n g on a f a i r l y r e g u l a r b a s i s . For me these c o n f l i c t s w i t h Simon were more r e f l e c t i v e of a f a t h e r and son, than an i n s t r u c t o r and student. Joe was a c t i n g i n s i m i l a r ways to that of a r e b e l l i o u s teenager. However, t h i s a c t i n g out behavior was something we could not e f f e c t i v e l y deal w i t h i n so p u b l i c a program. Joe needed help w i t h h i s issues more than v o c a t i o n a l t r a i n i n g , but u n f o r t u n a t e l y i t wasn't something we could a s s i s t him w i t h . I t became q u i t e a s t r u g g l e f o r him and f o r Simon to l a s t the two months t i l l year end. In the f a l l of 1993 course work provided my f i r s t i n t r o d u c t i o n to c u r r i c u l u m w r i t i n g s , to which as i s usual f o r me, I found myself drawn to those which e i t h e r v a l i d a t e d my thoughts and methodology or those from which b i t s and pieces made sense or f i t w i t h my p e r c e p t i o n of t h i n g s . A theory which seemed to hold some v a l i d i t y based on my experiences was that of s o c i a l reproduction. I t would seem that when we as teachers make choices and set goals f o r our students because of what the powers that be recommend, or based on past performance and l a b e l s , we l i m i t t h e i r growth. We only get what we are " t r a i n i n g " f o r , based on these parameters and our own assumptions. A research example from Anyon i n P i n a r (1988) concurs w i t h t h i s n o t i o n , "A study of s p e c i a l education c l a s s e s i n s e v e r a l urban school systems found that fewer than 10% of a l l students assigned to s p e c i a l education c l a s s e s ever returned to the r e g u l a r program"(p.181). I f I had continued to use an instrumental approach, I would have assured the c o n t i n u a t i o n of my students as A d u l t S p e c i a l Education, incapable of t h i n k i n g or a c t i n g f o r themselves. But I stopped making assumptions, I stopped d i r e c t i n g and c o n t r o l l i n g them and have since witnessed dramatic changes i n t h e i r behavior, to that of being much more s e l f - d i r e c t e d . This seems to have i n f l u e n c e d t h e i r 59 a b i l i t y to f u n c t i o n i n a l l s i t u a t i o n s , be i t v o c a t i o n a l , academic, or s o c i a l . The f o l l o w i n g quote from Noddings and Shore (1984) Awakening the Inner Eye i s d e s c r i p t i v e of my p e r s p e c t i v e at t h i s time: The quest f o r understanding e s t a b l i s h e s a d i r e c t i o n i n the i n t u i t i v e mode but t h i s d i r e c t i o n i s at once both sure-and-clear and c o n t i n u a l l y open to change. We know where we are headed but must c o n s t a n t l y tack to stay on a course we cannot chart before hand. (p.81) The program had become student d r i v e n , which f o r me meant moving wi t h my students, r a t h e r than having them f o l l o w my lead. I no longer taught using lesson plans, or task a n a l y s i s . I presented students w i t h questions and problems, and together we sought answers and s o l u t i o n s . This process was r e f l e c t i v e and c y c l i c a l . Students were engaged i n s e l f and group e v a l u a t i o n . I challenged them to b e t t e r understand themselves and why they d i d what they d i d , and to change i t i f i t d i d not work f o r them. Working to help C r y s t a l recognize, and then maintain her strengths proved s i m i l a r to the experiences i n S o c i a l 60 Learning. She was able to show a l i t t l e more of her spontaneous and c r e a t i v e s e l f but s t i l l had days when she s t r u g g l e d w i t h f e e l i n g s of being inept and unworthy. Recognizing her love of reading and her leanings toward w r i t t e n expression as a strength, I suggested that she t r y keeping a j o u r n a l i n which she could w r i t e about the people she was around when she wasn't i n school and what kind of r e a c t i o n she had to each of them. I was hoping to see i f s p e c i f i c people might go along w i t h her f e e l i n g s of d i s p a r i t y . I explained to her my n o t i o n that she might p o s s i b l y be r e a c t i n g to those around her. Being that her r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h me was u s u a l l y q u i t e p o s i t i v e , I wanted her to attempt to i d e n t i f y i f there were other people who a l s o d i d t h i s f o r her, as w e l l as those who might cause the opposite. I f t h i s was i n f a c t the case, and she was i n contact w i t h those that drew out these opposite behaviors from her s e v e r a l times over the course of a week, i t might e x p l a i n why she never r e a l l y f e l t good about h e r s e l f f o r very long. I imagined such an experience being r a t h e r l i k e an emotional r o l l e r coaster r i d e . I t might a l s o suggest that i f she could avoid those who d i s t u r b e d her, she could maintain a sense of w e l l - b e i n g f o r longer than a day. She t r i e d t h i s and reported that she d i d i n f a c t become aware of how c e r t a i n people i n f l u e n c e d her. She had found that very i n t e l l e c t u a l people made her f e e l q u i t e i n f e r i o r 61 and s t u p i d and that o v e r - p r o t e c t i v e , over-helping people made her f e e l h e l p l e s s and incapable. She a l s o i n d i c a t e d that there were a number of these people i n her l i f e . I l e f t her to work w i t h t h i s new understanding and h o p e f u l l y f i n d some s t a b i l i t y f o r h e r s e l f . As time passed she seemed to be g e t t i n g stronger and more able to maintain a l e v e l plane of e m o t i o n a l i t y . I t was about t h i s time that I r e a l l y began to question whether the diagnosis she had been l a b e l e d with, schizophrenia, was i n her case r e a l l y an i l l n e s s at a l l . I r e c a l l an experience while working at Riverview H o s p i t a l of s e v e r a l conversations w i t h a p a t i e n t who to me seemed very c l e a r on what was happening around him. I n t e r e s t i n g l y enough, he became confused and not able to c a r r y on a conversation when a doctor, nurse, or t h e r a p i s t came near. At the time I thought maybe he was j u s t a c t i n g the p a r t f o r t h e i r b e n e f i t . Now I wonder i f there was something about i n t e r a c t i n g w i t h these people that i n f l u e n c e d t h i s change i n h i s behavior. Was he even aware t h i s was happening? In the second semester C r y s t a l was ready f o r a work experience at a l o c a l s t o r e . A f t e r having done qu i t e w e l l at general c l e a n i n g and r e s t o c k i n g of shelves she was h i r e d as a part-time employee. Over the next year, she went on to 62 a t t a i n her d r i v e r ' s l i c e n s e , take a Spanish course, and spoke of wanting to save money so that she might go to Europe and work as a nanny. In mid March Simon made a comment about wishing he had a giant p i c t u r e of me he could put up i n the Seniors' Centre because he f e l t t hat students worked more p r o d u c t i v e l y when I was there than when I wasn't. Having s t a r t e d on my Master's Program, at the beginning of t h i s year I had made a choice to work only w i t h the Food Service Program. But at t h i s p a r t i c u l a r p o i n t i n time, I had agreed to do f i v e weeks of r e l i e f work i n the S o c i a l Learning Program as one of the I n s t r u c t o r s was on maternity leave. This made the times that I was away from the Centre more p r e d i c t a b l e , which had als o been the case i n the previous year. I t had been my p a t t e r n before S o c i a l . L e a r n i n g and during t h i s year up u n t i l now, to vary my hours as student and business needs warranted. What Simon was i n d i c a t i n g was an awareness on h i s p a r t of changes i n student performance which he l i n k e d to my presence i n and absence from the program. Wanting to i n v e s t i g a t e t h i s f u r t h e r I discussed w i t h Simon the p o s s i b i l i t y of a temporary change, my proposal being that I come i n e a r l i e r each morning to supervise k i t c h e n a c t i v i t i e s , i n s t e a d of him. Agreeing on t h i s course 63 of a c t i o n , I then informed students that f o r the next while Simon and I were going to change jobs. Beginning the next morning, I would be w i t h them i n the k i t c h e n and Simon would be working on something e l s e away from the Centre. Having to work w i t h i n the l i m i t s of my part-time hours I a r r i v e d at work t h i r t y minutes a f t e r the r e g u l a r s t a r t time f o r the program. To both mine and Simon's amazement students were operating at very high l e v e l s of independent work having already completed almost h a l f of the mornings work r o u t i n e . I t seemed from t h i s r e s u l t that even the expectation of my being i n the program area might somehow in f l u e n c e student behavior. Another question which occurs to me now i s whether Simon's behavior had somehow been d i f f e r e n t because of h i s awareness that I was coming i n to replace him. Did Simon do anything i n the time before I a r r i v e d which was d i f f e r e n t than he u s u a l l y did? Deciding to take a c l o s e r look at how we might d i f f e r i n our teaching methods, I sought Simon's cooperation to make and analyze some video tapes of one to one teaching s i t u a t i o n s w i t h three d i f f e r e n t students at the expediter s t a t i o n . The expediter s t a t i o n i s the f r o n t counter of the k i t c h e n where there i s an open window i n t o the r e s t a u r a n t . ; 64 The counter i s set up w i t h warmers on e i t h e r side and i s equipped w i t h side p l a t e s , bowls, garnishes, buns, l a r g e p l a t e s and appropriate u t e n s i l s such as l a d l e s , s l o t t e d spoons, and scoops. Immediately behind i s a work i s l a n d and d i r e c t l y behind that i s the stove and g r i l l . On the l e f t s i d e of the k i t c h e n f o r the f u l l l ength of the w a l l i s the d i s h washing run while the r i g h t side of the ki t c h e n i s counter space, a r e f r i g e r a t o r and Simon's o f f i c e . During lunch s e r v i c e , three to four students plus one i n s t r u c t o r are i n the ki t c h e n , w i t h students performing one of the f o l l o w i n g jobs; expediter, g r i l l cook, s a l a d chef, or dishwasher. The i n s t r u c t o r t a k i n g a f a c i l i t a t o r r o l e focuses on g e t t i n g students to work c o o p e r a t i v e l y and e f f i c i e n t l y to f i l l the food orders coming i n from the restaurant, a s s i s t i n g only when necessary. I t i s at the expediter s t a t i o n that student servers make contact w i t h the k i t c h e n p u t t i n g orders i n , or p i c k i n g up food at the window. I t i s the expediter's job to c o n t r o l the t r a f f i c flow of orders i n and out of the k i t c h e n . When an order i s re c e i v e d at the window the b i l l i s checked f o r c l a r i t y and a carbon copy of the order i s passed to the cook. The expediter i s re s p o n s i b l e to p l a t e up the s p e c i a l , add garnishes, bowl soup, q u a l i t y check orders, and make sure that orders go out w i t h i n a reasonable time. When 6 5 there are s e v e r a l d i f f e r e n t orders from one t a b l e , the goal i s to send them a l l out together i f p o s s i b l e . In the f r o n t of the restaurant there are u s u a l l y three to f i v e students who work w i t h Jean and the other i n s t r u c t o r . There are u s u a l l y twenty to f o r t y customers, many of whom a r r i v e w i t h i n f i f t e e n to twenty minutes of each other. The lunch s e r v i c e o f t e n takes on the tone and tempo of a McDonald's rush. S e t t i n g up the video camera i n Simon's o f f i c e l o c a t e d j u s t o f f the k i t c h e n , I proceeded over s e v e r a l days to capture myself and Simon working w i t h the same three students f o r ten minutes each. The students chosen f o r the sequences a l l functioned at d i f f e r e n t l e v e l s . I chose them i n order to get a more accurate p i c t u r e w i t h respect to the d i f f e r e n c e s that e x i s t e d i n the f u n c t i o n a l l e v e l s of students i n the program. Next began the r a t h e r tedious work of a n a l y s i s . I e n l i s t e d Jean's help w i t h the making of t r a n s c r i p t i o n s of what had been s a i d along w i t h b r i e f n o t a t i o n s as to behavior, I then proceeded to the problem of wondering what I was going to look a t . Reading through the t r a n s c r i p t i o n s s e v e r a l times, i t occurred to me that I might s t a r t by c a t e g o r i z i n g the v e r b a l i z a t i o n s i n t o the f o l l o w i n g : open ended questions 66 (how, when, what), i d e n t i f y i n g good work, i d e n t i f y i n g poor work, accepting student ideas, d i r e c t i n s t r u c t i o n , suggestions, c l a r i f y i n g and other. Once ca t e g o r i z e d I then went back and i d e n t i f i e d the frequency of use during each ten minute segment. (See Table 1) Borrowing some cons t r u c t s from f a m i l y therapy, I then went on to look at stance, congruence and incongruence, and r e l a t i o n s h i p s t y l e . Family therapy i n f e r s that r e l a t i o n s h i p s i n f l u e n c e one another, and that there are r e c i p r o c a l and r e o c c u r r i n g patterns of i n t e r a c t i o n s . Having the experience of i d e n t i f y i n g some of these patterns from a video tape i n a c l a s s the previous summer, I wanted to see i f s i m i l a r things might be o c c u r r i n g here. With respect to the type and frequency of the v e r b a l i z a t i o n s , what I discovered was that I used con s i d e r a b l y more v e r b a l i z a t i o n s than Simon d i d , w i t h both of us using more open ended questions than any of the other i d e n t i f i e d c a t e g o r i e s . A l s o i n common was that the amount of v e r b a l i z a t i o n s decreased as the student l e v e l of f u n c t i o n increased. I asked open ended questions, c l a r i f i e d , or accepted student ideas most f r e q u e n t l y , while Simon used open ended questions and d i r e c t i n s t r u c t i o n . With each student we adjusted our v e r b a l i z a t i o n s so that although there were s i m i l a r i t i e s , there were no c o n s i s t e n t p a t t e r n s . 67 T a b l e 1 I n s t r u c t o r V e r b a l i z a t i o n s Instructor A frequency open ended questions 28 accepts ideas 19 Student c l a r i f y 17 1 d i r e c t i n s t r u c t i o n 16 poor work 2 good work 1 suggests 1 other 0 Instructor B frequency open ended questions 29 d i r e c t i n s t r u c t i o n 20 c l a r i f y 10 poor work 9 accepts ideas 2 suggests 1 good work 0 other 0 open ended questions c l a r i f y Student good work 2 accepts ideas suggests d i r e c t i n s t r u c t i o n poor work other 17 11 6 3 3 2 0 0 open ended questions d i r e c t i n s t r u c t i o n suggests poor work c l a r i f y accepts ideas good work other 29 9 2 2 1 0 0 1 c l a r i f y open ended questions Student accepts ideas 3 suggests good work d i r e c t i n s t r u c t i o n poor work other 16 9 3 3 1 0 0 0 c l a r i f y d i r e c t i n s t r u c t i o n poor work open ended questions other good work accepts ideas suggests N o t e . Examples of V e r b a l i z a t i o n s -open ended questions - What do you need to do next? (how,when) -accepting ideas - yes, okay. - c l a r i f y i n g - You put e x t r a green onions on i t ? - d i r e c t i n s t r u c t i o n - Put i t i n s i d e the c a r r o t l i k e t h i s -poor work - Why are you p u t t i n g ugly p a r s l e y on? -good work - He i s on a r o l l ! He i s t h i n k i n g ! -other - I'm not f e e l i n g w e l l , (off t o p i c / t a s k ) 68 The most d i s t i n c t d i f f e r e n c e was w i t h the i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of poor work, Simon making t h i r t e e n v e r b a l i z a t i o n s to mytwo, wi t h nine of these being i n r e l a t i o n to the lowest f u n c t i o n i n g student. V e r b a l i z a t i o n s amongst Simon and the students were predominantly i n s t r u c t o r to one student at a time, w i t h l i t t l e communication between the students themselves. When reviewing myself on t h i s aspect, I seemed to p l a y more of an equal p a r t i n what was o c c u r r i n g , w i t h communication happening between students as w e l l as w i t h me. I wondered about the f a c t that I didn't have the e x p e r t i s e to rescue my students i f things began to go wrong. In f a c t , most of them were more knowledgeable about t h e i r k i t c h e n tasks than I was. I needed them to p u l l t h e i r weight as much as they needed me to p u l l mine. Whereas w i t h Simon, he was seen as the expert who could help/rescue i f he f e l t pressured to do so. Stemming from my f a s c i n a t i o n w i t h behavior I decided to look at stance. Becvar and Becvar (1988) i n Family Therapy a Systemic I n t e g r a t i o n describe V i r g i n i a S a t i r ' s f i v e types: Thus the p l a c a t o r looks as w e l l as speaks i n the r o l e of the passive, weak, s e l f - e f f a c i n g i n d i v i d u a l who always 69 agrees w i t h others. By c o n t r a s t , the blamer u s u a l l y disagrees no matter what, always f i n d s f a u l t w i t h others, and i s the p i c t u r e of the s e l f - r i g h t e o u s f i n g e r - p o i n t e r . The super-reasonable i n d i v i d u a l assumes computerlike r i g i d posture devoid of f e e l i n g s but i s extremely l o g i c a l and i n t e l l e c t u a l , at l e a s t i n appearance. The i r r e l e v a n t i n d i v i d u a l i s c h a r a c t e r i z e d by u n r e l a t e d and d i s t r a c t i n g behaviors and seems to consider n e i t h e r s e l f nor others i n the process of communicating. F i n a l l y , the congruent i n d i v i d u a l sends l e v e l messages i n which words and f e e l i n g s match, and n e i t h e r the s e l f , the other, nor the context i s denied, (p.204-205) Although I based my a n a l y s i s on the above I wish to make i t known that f o r me, a l l of these l a b e l s and d e s c r i p t i o n s , except f o r congruent, seem somewhat extreme and o f f e r no v a r i a t i o n s w i t h i n each of the stances. A f t e r reviewing the videos I c a t e g o r i z e d myself as predominantly congruent seeing most of my behavior as being c o n s i s t e n t w i t h being a v a i l a b l e to a s s i s t , but only when needed. Throughout the video segments I have my hands i n my pockets or behind my back, I walk over and look at things 70 being done and then step back again. I smile, give eye contact, make gestures, p o i n t and nod. Simon appeared to demonstrate two stances, w i t h the most predominant one being congruent w i t h mannerisms of p o i n t i n g , g e s t u r i n g , standing and watching. His posture was r e l a x e d and he would o f t e n r a i s e h i s eyebrows when asking questions. He appeared to be a v a i l a b l e to a s s i s t , but only when needed. In c o n t r a s t h i s other stance i s what I would c l a s s i f y as a very low key v e r s i o n of S a t i r ' s blamer, which I p r e f e r to rename the Head Chef. This stance c o n s i s t e d of p i c k i n g up and showing, throwing things out i n the garbage, touching and re-arranging c o n t a i n e r s , demonstrating what should be done, t a s t i n g food, and a d j u s t i n g food on the p l a t e s . There was a p a t t e r n of moving about the k i t c h e n sampling and s c r u t i n i z i n g , t r y i n g to i d e n t i f y any problems before food would leave the k i t c h e n . Congruence and incongruence i s i n reference to communication which i s seen as being on two l e v e l s , d i g i t a l (or verbal) and process (or non-verbal). I f the two phases are matching then the communication i s congruent, and i f the body language does not match the v e r b a l then an incongruence i s i d e n t i f i e d . To determine t h i s aspect I compared stance and v e r b a l i z a t i o n s . 71 Here I saw myself as most o f t e n being congruent. 7An example being: "What could you be doing besides having t h i s b i g conversation which i s not re l e v a n t to food?" (standing w i t h hands i n pockets) The statement i s encouraging students to t h i n k and act f o r themselves and the behavior i s al s o i n d i c a t i n g by the hands i n the pockets that I am not going to give them any c l u e s . With Simon there seemed to be s h i f t s between congruent and incongruent. Congruence i s e x e m p l i f i e d by the f o l l o w i n g : Simon: What do you t h i n k about p a r s l e y ? (Moves i n c l o s e r to Joe) Joe: /About p a r s l e y ? Simon: What i s so d i f f i c u l t f o r you today w i t h t h i s p a r s l e y ? (gestures) Joe: P a r s l e y ' s are hard to check to see i f they are good or ugly. Simon: What's hard about i t ? Describe hard? (Raises eyebrows) Both the words and the behavior r e f l e c t Simon's d e s i r e to understand. /An incongruence i s r e f l e c t e d by the f o l l o w i n g : Simon: Did the toasted tuna go? Jane: Yes i t d i d . (begins to say something else) 72 Simon: Did the toasted tuna go? 7Answer, yes. End of s t o r y . (cut o f f what student was saying, tone of v o i c e sharp, and moved away when f i n i s h e d ) The statements are c l a r i f y i n g , whereas the behavior r e f l e c t s annoyance and a d e s i r e to break o f f the conversation. The f i n a l aspect I looked at i n the videos was the r e l a t i o n s h i p s t y l e that was o c c u r r i n g between i n s t r u c t o r and student i n terms of three kinds; complimentary which r e f e r s to opposite kinds of behavior such as passive and aggressive, symmetrical which i s when s i m i l a r kinds of behavior are o c c u r r i n g , and p a r a l l e l which i s having r o l e f l e x i b i l i t y , when both complimentary and symmetrical occur interchangeably. Here I seemed to move between p a r a l l e l and symmetrical w i t h p a r a l l e l being dominant i n two of the three videos. 7An example being: Linda: What d i d the board say? Jane: The board s a i d beef dip w i t h potato s a l a d - t h i s morning. Linda: I t s a i d that t h i s morning? Jane: Yes i t d i d . Linda: I wasn't here. A l l I have seen i s beef d i p . This begins w i t h the i n s t r u c t o r i n the more powerful p o s i t i o n while questioning where the potato s a l a d f i t i n t o 73 the menu. The exchange ends as the student moves to the more powerful p o s i t i o n when the i n s t r u c t o r accepts her answer. I demonstrate a symmetrical r e l a t i o n s h i p when I move i n to work along w i t h or beside a student and use statements l i k e : What do we do w i t h t h i s order? We need an order of t o a s t . The we statements and the behavior i n d i c a t e a sense of sameness and e q u a l i t y . Simon appears to s h i f t between complimentary and symmetrical, w i t h complimentary being dominant. The example p r e v i o u s l y i d e n t i f i e d as being incongruent, w i t h Jane and the toasted tuna i s r e f l e c t i v e of t h i s complimentary r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h Simon maintaining the more powerful p o s i t i o n of the two. The f o l l o w i n g i s an example of a symmetrical r e l a t i o n s h i p : Simon: Holy Moly! Is that ever ugly. What d i d you do, put i t i n a 500 degree oven? (Using napkin to p i c k up p l a t e ) Dave: Yea, something l i k e t h a t . (Smiling) 74 Simon: You're bad! You're bad! (teasing, smiling) Dave: I d i d not mean t o . (Smiling) Simon: I t i s okay, I w i l l run w i t h the p l a t e . 7Ah! 7Ah! 7Ah! (running and ho l d i n g p l a t e up high) Here when making fun and j o k i n g w i t h Dave, Simon i s equal. Having completed the a n a l y s i s of the videos, there appeared to have been s u b t l e , yet apparently s i g n i f i c a n t d i f f e r e n c e s i n teaching s t y l e , as w e l l as some d i s t i n c t l i n k a g e s or patterns between the cons t r u c t s of v e r b a l i z a t i o n , stance, congruence/incongruence, and r e l a t i o n s h i p s t y l e . Simon's congruent stance c o i n c i d e s w i t h open ended questions, accepting student ideas, c l a r i f y i n g , suggesting, and a r e l a t i o n s h i p s t y l e that although predominantly complimentary i s reserved i n demeanor. There are s h i f t s from the above mentioned complimentary r e l a t i o n s h i p i n t o a symmetrical one when he jokes around wi t h the students. His Head Chef stance c o i n c i d e s w i t h i d e n t i f y i n g poor work, g i v i n g d i r e c t i n s t r u c t i o n s , some incongruent communication and a complimentary r e l a t i o n s h i p s t y l e which i s somewhat stronger i n demeanor than w i t h h i s congruent stance. Looking at myself, my congruent stance c o i n c i d e s w i t h open ended questions, c l a r i f y i n g , accepting student ideas, acknowledging good work, and a r e l a t i o n s h i p s t y l e that i s u s u a l l y p a r a l l e l (student and i n s t r u c t o r changing r o l e s ) . The student maintains a complimentary r e l a t i o n s h i p being i n the more powerful p o s i t i o n when working independently. As students need a s s i s t a n c e I w i l l then move i n t o t h i s p o s i t i o n j u s t long enough f o r them to once again take charge of t h e i r work. A s h i f t i n t o a symmetrical r e l a t i o n s h i p occurs when I mimic or work beside a student, o c c u r r i n g when a p a r a l l e l r e l a t i o n s h i p cannot be e s t a b l i s h e d . An increase i n the f u n c t i o n a l l e v e l of our students would seem to c o i n c i d e w i t h the i n s t r u c t o r being congruent ( i n stance and v e r b a l communication), to as much as p o s s i b l e keep the r e l a t i o n s h i p p a r a l l e l (student and i n s t r u c t o r changing r o l e s ) , and to predominantly ask open ended questions, c l a r i f y , accept student ideas and acknowledge good work. What appeared to decrease l e v e l of f u n c t i o n was a Head Chef stance, incongruent communication, a complimentary r e l a t i o n s h i p where students are i n a powerless p o s i t i o n , i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of poor work and d i r e c t i n s t r u c t i o n . This i n v e s t i g a t i o n r a i s e d s e v e r a l questions f o r me. 76 Could the way that we as i n s t r u c t o r s teach and r e l a t e to our students have as much or even more relevance to student achievement than I.Q.? Are teachers and students i n f l u e n c i n g one another i n maintaining the status quo? Are we as stuck i n our r o l e s as our students appear to be i n t h e i r s ? For me Simon's r o l e of Head Chef i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e of the r e a l i t i e s of the work place and many classrooms which are p r e s e n t l y i n s t r u c t o r / s u p e r v i s o r d r i v e n . This i s a r o l e that students need to l e a r n to recognize and how i t a f f e c t s them and t h e i r a b i l i t y to f u n c t i o n , as i t w i l l s u r e l y be encountered outside of the program. Without an understanding of why, they w i l l i n e v i t a b l y go out to work or move i n t o another s o c i a l environment where they may f i n d themselves having t r o u b l e and not know how to change t h i s f o r themselves. I n v e s t i g a t i n g the d i f f e r e n c e s between the r e l a t i o n s h i p s that Simon and I create w i t h students allowed me to recognize these s u b t l e s h i f t s i n behavior. Behavior that seemed to be drawing students i n to p l a y the counterpart of 77 a r o l e that the more powerful person i n the r e l a t i o n s h i p was p r e s e n t l y d i c t a t i n g . Or, was q u i t e the opposite t r u e , that the h e l p l e s s , under f u n c t i o n i n g behavior of our students i s a c t u a l l y c a l l i n g us i n to p l a y t h e i r counterpart. E i t h e r way, i t would seem that these r o l e s aren't permanently f i x e d and that my c o u n s e l o r / f a c i l i t a t o r r o l e and Simon's congruent and j o k i n g r o l e s present o p p o r t u n i t i e s f o r the growth of our students. 7An opportunity to experience a d i f f e r e n t more productive r o l e than the one they have so c o n s i s t e n t l y played. But without an understanding of these r o l e s and how they i n f l u e n c e student behavior, t h e i r a l l too f a m i l i a r r o l e of being h e l p l e s s w i l l c o n t i n u a l l y be replayed. A f t e r g a i n i n g t h i s awareness, I decided to i n v e s t i g a t e whether students had any conscious r e c o g n i t i o n of our body language. To do t h i s I made up a sheet of statements d e s c r i b i n g i n s t r u c t o r behavior as t r a n s c r i b e d from the videos. I then asked a l l of the students to i n d i c a t e i n a space next to each statement from t h e i r r e c o l l e c t i o n , which i n s t r u c t o r was being described. The students proved to be f a i r l y aware, but s u r p r i s i n g l y , i t was Joe who was the most accurate at i d e n t i f y i n g our mannerisms. Joe who s e v e r a l years before repeatedly asked questions about where to put things away i n the k i t c h e n , who more o f t e n than not appeared to f u n c t i o n at a low l e v e l , but who had a l s o shown 78 us he possessed the a b i l i t y to be someone very d i f f e r e n t . This was another one of those times. Wondering whether changing the way Simon taught students might get d i f f e r e n t r e s u l t s , I suggested that he lead a classroom session but not i n h i s usual way. Instead of standing at the board, l e a d i n g the d i s c u s s i o n and making notes I wanted him to s i t w i t h the students. Then w i t h a student assigned as a recorder, h i s r o l e would be to ask open ended questions, t r y to get everyone p a r t i c i p a t i n g , c l a r i f y when needed, and accept anything reasonable t h a t students might o f f e r to the d i s c u s s i o n . When the students f i r s t entered the classroom they had strange looks on t h e i r faces, r e c o g n i z i n g something unusual was going on. As they took t h e i r seats, Simon requested a volunteer to record notes on the f l i p c hart, which a f t e r some h e s i t a t i o n , Dave consented to do. Dave was the most l i k e l y candidate. Always very personable and demonstrating e x c e l l e n t p o t e n t i a l to be both a cook and a server, he a l s o appeared to be seen by most of the students as the leader of the c l a s s . What proceeded to take place i n that classroom s e s s i o n as I watched from the back of the room was very i n t e r e s t i n g . E v e n t u a l l y a l l of the students began to t a l k f r e e l y . The 79 recorder appeared confident, even though s p e l l i n g had never been demonstrated as one of Dave's strengths. The i n f o r m a t i o n that was covered was complete and w e l l done. The students enjoyed i t . Simon i n d i c a t e d that i t had been d i f f i c u l t to maintain that way of working w i t h students but recognized the p o s i t i v e outcomes. A f t e r s e v e r a l days of using t h i s format the students began one session on t h e i r own. They pi c k e d a recorder and c a r r i e d on from where they had l e f t o f f . Simon and I began to j e s t about how our students seemed not to need us anymore. I recognized something I have since r e f e r r e d t o , as non-teaching-teaching. Becvar and Becvar (1988) s t a t e , "The process of d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n s t a r t s as a personal, i n d i v i d u a l process and progresses i n t o the transformation of r e l a t i o n s h i p s i n the e n t i r e f a m i l y system"(p.144). In the beginning stages, I was alone w i t h my i n t u i t i v e process. As time went on, I began to i n c l u d e f i r s t Simon, then Jean, and more and more of the other i n d i v i d u a l s connected w i t h the program. Systems theory i m p l i e s that i f you change one p a r t of the system, i t e f f e c t s change i n the r e s t of the system. The Food Service Program seemed to be a l i v i n g example of t h i s process. Over a four year time frame everyone i n the program had changed i n some way, i n s t r u c t o r s , students, and 80 our volunteer. We were l e a r n i n g and growing together as people. My thoughts at t h i s p o i n t questioned the s i g n i f i c a n c e of the f a c t that n e i t h e r myself nor my now c o - i n s t r u c t o r Simon had any e x p e r t i s e i n each other's f i e l d , nor a l o t of teaching experience when we s t a r t e d . Had t h i s encouraged a re c o g n i z i n g and b u i l d i n g on each other's strengths? In a d d i t i o n , we had gained a volunteer who o f f e r e d many i n s i g h t f u l c o n t r i b u t i o n s and who had been w i t h us f o r se v e r a l years, a very unusual s i t u a t i o n at the c o l l e g e l e v e l . What was the s i g n i f i c a n c e of these r e l a t i o n s h i p s ? And what of our students, some who had continued to p a r t i c i p a t e a c t i v e l y i n a l l that was asked of them f o r up to three years. Noddings (1992) i n the i n t r o d u c t i o n to her book, The Challenge to Care i n Schools w r i t e s : Pretend that we have a larg e heterogeneous f a m i l y to r a i s e and educate. Our c h i l d r e n have d i f f e r e n t e t h n i c h e r i t a g e s , widely d i f f e r e n t i n t e l l e c t u a l c a p a c i t i e s , d i f f e r e n t p h y s i c a l strengths and d i f f e r e n t i n t e r e s t s . We want to respect t h e i r l e g i t i m a t e d i f f e r e n c e s . At the same time, we t h i n k there are some things that they a l l should l e a r n and some things they should be exposed to so 81 that they can make well-informed choices. How should we educate them? ( p . x i i i ) R e f l e c t i n g on the experiences of the previous years, i t seemed that we had stumbled onto some answers to t h i s question. I t was my b e l i e f at t h i s p o i n t , that we could not make assumptions about the l e a r n i n g c a p a c i t i e s of our students; that the primary focus needed to be on the hidden curriculum, w i t h the knowledge based c u r r i c u l u m being the v e h i c l e of the l e a r n i n g process. For me, the hidden c u r r i c u l u m i s the human, personal and r e l a t i o n a l aspects that occur d a i l y i n classrooms to which l i t t l e or no a t t e n t i o n i s p a i d . We should be attempting to create a healthy environment f o r our students to dwell i n where a l l experiences can be used as l e a r n i n g experiences; a place where students can rec o n s t r u c t and give new meaning to t h e i r world. This i s part of a process that systems theory might c a l l d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n . I see i t as the ga i n i n g of independence and free choice. S h i f t i n g Roles and Hierarchical Structures During the f i r s t few months of our s i x t h year I focused q u i t e h e a v i l y on j o u r n a l w r i t i n g w i t h two of my students V i c t o r i a and Randy. The m a j o r i t y of t h e i r time f o r a week was spent w r i t i n g , d i a l o g u i n g w i t h me about what they had w r i t t e n , what I saw i n t h e i r w r i t i n g , and then w r i t i n g some 82 more. What occurred w i t h both of these students was q u i t e amazing. At the end of that time frame a t o t a l l y d i f f e r e n t person emerged, someone who was so d i f f e r e n t from what they had been that I found myself wondering about the v a l i d i t y of the l a b e l s that had been attached to these students. How does someone t o t a l l y change t h e i r f u n c t i o n a l behavior i n one week when they are supposedly handicapped? I don't t h i n k they can. The a b i l i t y to be t h i s other person had to have been there a l l along. Looking at themselves had somehow brought i t out. Although t h i s p o t e n t i a l had been recognized, f o r V i c t o r i a and Randy to maintain t h e i r new s e l v e s , i t was a constant s t r u g g l e . I t seemed that there were always s i t u a t i o n s when, as w i t h C r y s t a l , other people i n t h e i r l i v e s i n f l u e n c e d t h e i r s h i f t back. With some a s s i s t a n c e , V i c t o r i a was u s u a l l y able to p u l l h e r s e l f back to her more productive s e l f , but her world seemed a very tumultuous and d i f f i c u l t p l ace to maintain her new s e l f f o r very long. Randy on the other hand returned to h i s o l d behaviors showing l i t t l e s i g n of h i s other s e l f . U nfortunately, as p r e v i o u s l y uncovered i n my coursework w i t h Dr. Ted A o k i , the s h i f t s back were beginning to occur more o f t e n , w i t h other students i n the program, and myself, an i n d i c a t o r f o r me that something was wrong. As the s i x t h year progressed, s t r u g g l e s w i t h i n myself and a growing discomfort of f e e l i n g l i k e I was becoming i n v i s i b l e , and had l o s t my voice were g e t t i n g stronger. From my p e r s p e c t i v e , something had d e f i n i t e l y changed. I was no longer able to communicate e f f e c t i v e l y w i t h Simon. He had somehow over the l a s t while become the person others saw as being i n charge of the program. Decisions were being made about students that were not being discussed and agreed upon together. My suggestions seemed to be unheard or ignored. I was f e e l i n g i n t e n s e l y unhappy, having to watch things happen around me which I viewed as counterproductive, but no longer seeming to have any a u t h o r i t y to i n f l u e n c e or change them. I f e l t caught i n a place where I f e l t u s e l e s s , l i k e a piece of f l u f f . I had been here before. I t had been w i t h d i f f e r e n t people, i t had been a d i f f e r e n t place and a d i f f e r e n t time, but the f e e l i n g s , my r e a c t i o n s and the behaviors of those around me were a l l too f a m i l i a r . The " s t r u c t u r e " of the program had changed. Simon was now seen as being i n charge and was responding a c c o r d i n g l y . I was no longer an equal p a r t n e r . My f i r s t r e a c t i o n was to f i g h t against what I f e l t i n my heart was going to be the deconstruction of a l l we had achieved. But t h i s was to no 84 a v a i l . Somehow things i n both Simon's and my own l i f e had reached such s t r e s s p o i n t s that I was r e p l a y i n g some of my o l d behavior (my learned behavior), that of a mediator, an enabler, someone who c a r r i e s everyone e l s e ' s p a i n . For several.months I had f e l t myself s i n k i n g deeper and deeper as I c a r r i e d my own f r u s t r a t i o n and that of the students while I rushed about t r y i n g to keep things together. I f e l t as i f I was p u t t i n g bandages on, when an operation was re q u i r e d . What was o c c u r r i n g seemed so s i m i l a r to our f i r s t year, the d i f f e r e n c e being that Simon was now the I n s t r u c t o r and I had become h i s a s s i s t a n t . About the end of January, I r e a l i z e d that there was nothing I could do to change t h i n g s . That they would have to run t h e i r course and that maybe, a f t e r a whil e , an opportunity to grow from the experience would present i t s e l f . I f e l t the program had come f u l l c i r c l e , and even though things weren't going w e l l at that moment, things could change again when the opportunity presented i t s e l f . As I had always s a i d to my students, a l l experiences are p o t e n t i a l l e a r n i n g o p p o r t u n i t i e s and t h i s could be one too. For the f i n a l two months of t h i s year I focused on the 85 i n t e r a c t i o n s , s t r u c t u r e and r o l e s of those s t i l l p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n the program. E a r l y i n A p r i l at the end of the day on a F r i d a y there was a great commotion i n the g i r l s washroom. Three of the students c a l l e d Jean i n to see, who i n turn c a l l e d me to view what had been w r i t t e n on the bathroom w a l l . I hate C h r i s and Randy Thay are fagets S i nd A. French T. Smith P. Christensen SA Jean was shocked at the behavior, saying that we had never had anything l i k e t h i s happen before. The students a l l wanted to know who d i d i t . Randy s a i d i t didn't bother him. He didn't get mad, he got even. I responded by saying how i t saddened me that r e l a t i o n s between students had reached such a p o i n t that someone f e l t the need to express 86 themselves i n such a f a s h i o n . I commented to Jean that given the r e l a t i o n s h i p dynamics of the past months that I was not e n t i r e l y s u r p r i s e d by t h i s behavior. That the w r i t i n g was q u i t e l i t e r a l l y on the w a l l . A f t e r coffee break on Monday morning, I suggested that we address the i s s u e of the w r i t i n g on the bathroom w a l l which had occurred on the previous F r i d a y . Students were s t i l l guessing about who had done i t . But from my p e r s p e c t i v e t h i s aspect was unimportant. What was of importance was an examination of what t h i s occurrence s a i d about our program. I wanted my students to t h i n k about the p o s s i b i l i t y that i t may i n f a c t say something about a l l of us. Beginning w i t h a question w r i t t e n on the board, "What purpose does g r a f f i t i serve?", students i d e n t i f i e d the kinds of t hings they a s s o c i a t e d g r a f f i t i w i t h , such as graduation, a d v e r t i s i n g , and artwork. They then moved on to i d e n t i f y who d i d g r a f f i t i , that others read i t , and f i n a l l y concluded that i t was a c t u a l l y a form of communication (a message). I then suggested they t r y to i d e n t i f y what the w r i t e r might have been f e e l i n g l i k e . Hurt, angry, f r u s t r a t e d , vengeful were a l l o f f e r e d as p o s s i b i l i t i e s . Next was a c l o s e r look at the message i t s e l f , males vs. females (four g i r l s to two boys). The f i r s t statement s t a r t e d w i t h I yet i t ended w i t h 87 a group. What d i d a l l of t h i s mean? Was t h i s a c l e a r message? How r e f l e c t i v e was t h i s message of what was a c t u a l l y happening i n the program r i g h t now? How does a message l i k e t h i s make you f e e l ? My i n t e n t was to get students to recognize that t h i s was a very strong communication and that the person who wrote i t didn't f e e l safe enough to share i t w i t h anyone i n person. That i t was a v i s u a l d i s p l a y of something d r a s t i c a l l y wrong w i t h our program; the d i v i d i n g and s i d i n g of the c l a s s , females against males, and an i n a b i l i t y to communicate e f f e c t i v e l y between them. Was t h i s s i t u a t i o n productive f o r anyone? Was t h i s something that they wished to continue? My own thoughts questioned whether i t was the aftermath or had been i n f l u e n c e d by the d i f f i c u l t i e s being experienced by Simon and myself i n our working r e l a t i o n s h i p . Were our d i f f i c u l t i e s f i l t e r i n g through the whole program? I wanted students to i d e n t i f y how they could change what was happening i n the program, t h e i r program. What could they do to help each other f e e l safe and included? I asked them how they might i d e n t i f y whether or not a problem 88 e x i s t e d ? What d i d t h i s make them f e e l l i k e ? I f they were f e e l i n g bad what might happen to the people around them? What happens to everyone's a b i l i t y to work? Simon made the comment that he had seen t h i s happen i n the h o t e l business. Everyone s t a r t e d f i g h t i n g , and then people q u i t . Jean d i d a great r o l e p l a y of lunch conversations, how students postured and some negative things that had been s a i d . By the end of the se s s i o n the students had i d e n t i f i e d twelve things that they were going to do to change t h i n g s . These were posted on the board. The next day while watching Simon's i n t e r a c t i o n s w i t h C a r o l i n e , a student at the end of her f i r s t year i n the program, I n o t i c e d that i f he stood up s t r a i g h t and spoke f i r m l y , she had d i f f i c u l t y answering h i s questions. When he slouched and leaned on the counter, she answered more q u i c k l y w i t h her answers being reasonably t h o u g h t f u l . I continued watching t h i s s h i f t i n g back and f o r t h f o r s e v e r a l exchanges and then as I had sensed a s h i f t i n Simon a f t e r yesterday's session, I i d e n t i f i e d f o r him what I had been observing. He began experimenting w i t h t h i s and agreed w i t h my observation. Simon's behavior seemed to be i n f l u e n c i n g C a r o l i n e ' s f u n c t i o n a l l e v e l . I wondered about whether she had somehow 89 learned to a s s o c i a t e power and/or i n t e l l i g e n c e w i t h standing up s t r a i g h t and speaking i n a f i r m v o i c e . Or was the opposite true? Did under-functioning behavior c a l l f o r a d i r e c t i v e overhelping response from others? From t h i s Simon and I began a long d i s c u s s i o n about how our behavior impacts on students. How we as i n s t r u c t o r s impact on others without r e c o g n i z i n g i t . The conversation moved to r e f l e c t on what had been happening between us over the past year and how things had changed not f o r the p o s i t i v e . The s t r e s s l e v e l s we had been working under had been i n f l u e n c i n g the program. Simon and I were communicating again, agreeing to work together to r e b u i l d what had worked the best f o r a l l of us, students, i n s t r u c t o r s and our volunteer. The students ran lunch s e r v i c e by themselves that day wit h no help from Simon or myself. At three o'clock we sat and had coffee , Jean, Simon and myself. C a r o l i n e came and sat w i t h us and a f t e r her, others gathered. We s a i d good-bye to each other, t i r e d but w i t h s m i l i n g faces. We had once again found that sense of wholeness, s a f e t y . The s t r u c t u r e that worked had returned to the program, a more p o s i t i v e , productive s e t t i n g , w i t h i n s t r u c t o r s who are 90 equal, concerned f o r students, encouraging of students, having c l e a r boundaries, expectations, and r o l e s . A couple of days l a t e r at coffee time four ex-students dropped by f o r a v i s i t . I t makes me wonder about what they found here when they were i n the program, and what draws them back again and again. When I go to v i s i t someone out of choice, i t i s u s u a l l y because I know I w i l l be welcome, and I f e e l c l o s e to that person i n some way. Several days l a t e r Simon and David, our student viewed as the leader of the c l a s s , were i n the k i t c h e n w i t h C a r o l i n e . Together, pretending not to know how to do anything ( i e . , chop up vegetables f o r a p l a t t e r , arrange vegetables on the p l a t t e r , cut cheese s l i c e s and meat s l i c e s ) , they asked C a r o l i n e numerous questions about what to do and how they should do i t . For about a h a l f an hour she maintained a l e a d e r s h i p r o l e d i r e c t i n g them. A f t e r break time she turned the t a b l e s , p u l l i n g them back i n t o t h e i r l e a d e r s h i p r o l e s by r e t u r n i n g to a non-t h i n k i n g r a t h e r confused s t a t e which she demonstrated by cooking poached eggs f o r 15 minutes, only doing one task at a time, and not o r g a n i z i n g her work. There were s e v e r a l other occasions when Simon and David replayed t h i s scenario w i t h C a r o l i n e , always g e t t i n g the same r e s u l t s . I t would seem that she could f u n c t i o n at two 91 q u i t e d i s t i n c t l e v e l s w i t h one being more f a m i l i a r and e a s i e r to maintain. The knowledge that she a c t u a l l y possessed and could demonstrate i f given the o p p o r t u n i t y was q u i t e high, appearing to have been there a l l along. Near the end of A p r i l we h e l d a c l a s s session to i n v e s t i g a t e whether b i r t h order might i n f l u e n c e student l e v e l of f u n c t i o n i n the program. Simon demonstrated how to b u i l d a r a t h e r complicated paper a i r p l a n e a f t e r which four students were s e l e c t e d to attempt the task. Unbeknown to my students, I purposely s e l e c t e d a f i r s t born, a youngest, a middle and an only. As these students worked, four other students were assigned to observe t h e i r behavior and record what they saw. A f t e r s e v e r a l minutes had passed the a c t i v i t y was stopped and students were asked to share what they had experienced. Recording t h e i r observations on the board, what came out of t h i s e x e r c i s e was that the f i r s t born gave i n s t r u c t i o n s and suggestions, q u i c k l y assuming the l e a d e r s h i p r o l e ; the only wanted to do i t h e r s e l f , r e f u s i n g a l l help, but remained very i n t e n t on completing the task; the youngest worked under the f i r s t born's s u p e r v i s i o n ; and the middle sat q u i e t l y , watched and smiled. A f t e r the l a t t e r had been i d e n t i f i e d I asked i f there was anyone e l s e i n the program 92 that the d e s c r i p t i o n of a middle f i t . A few moments passed when Simon sounding somewhat shocked s a i d , i t ' s you! I agreed. Much of my behavior d i d f i t the middle c h i l d r o l e as demonstrated w i t h t h i s e x e r c i s e , and w i t h good reason. I had f o r t h i r t e e n years been the middle c h i l d i n my f a m i l y , at which p o i n t I became the o l d e s t . We then asked Jean and three other students to t r y to b u i l d the paper a i r p l a n e . This time my hidden agenda was to have a l l f i r s t borns. The observers i n d i c a t e d that i n i t i a l l y they saw p a i r i n g s by gender. Later on as a group of four what e v e n t u a l l y occurred was that Jean appeared to take the major l e a d e r s h i p r o l e , though o f t e n a l l o w i n g f o r one of the other students to a l s o c o n t r i b u t e i n t h i s way. Of the other two, one played and joked about (youngest?) while the other was s i l e n t and watched most of the time (middle?). What was p a r t i c u l a r l y i n t e r e s t i n g was that a f t e r some time, even though they were a l l the same b i r t h order they e v e n t u a l l y e s t a b l i s h e d new r o l e s s i m i l a r to the f i r s t group. These new r o l e s appeared to correspond w i t h the amount of s i b l i n g s each of the p a r t i c i p a n t s had i n t h e i r f a m i l i e s of o r i g i n ; Jean having four, the student she exchanged l e a d e r s h i p w i t h having three, and the other two coming from f a m i l i e s of two. 93 While a c t u a l l y doing these a c t i v i t i e s students were not aware of what s p e c i f i c a l l y was being looked a t . Afterwards we as a group attempted to draw some conclusions based on what we had a l l experienced. I t would seem that there i s a strong tendency to maintain b e h a v i o r a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s and power s t r u c t u r e as experienced i n one's f a m i l y of o r i g i n , and that unknowingly we continue to recreate i t a l l through our l i v e s . We t a l k e d about how having a tendency to always act the same way might cause d i f f i c u l t i e s when working w i t h others. How we a l l , i n s t r u c t o r s included, are stuck i n r o l e s that have good and bad aspects ( i e . , Always being i n charge, always wanting to do everything by y o u r s e l f , never being allowed to do anything f o r y o u r s e l f , being i n v i s i b l e , unseen and unheard, never having to take r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r anything, being very independent, having a l l the c o n t r o l . ) 94 CHAPTER FIVE REFLECTIONS ON PERSON, PROBLEM AND METHOD I n i t i a l l y my question was: what do these students r e a l l y need to know i n order to be employable? Taking a very o b j e c t i v e stance, I had stood back and watched, l o o k i n g to see where students would get themselves i n t o t r o u b l e i f they were i n a r e a l job s i t u a t i o n . From t h i s p o i n t on I have never looked at teaching or my students i n q u i t e the same way. My e v o l v i n g process of a c t i o n research has taught me much about my students, myself and the s o c i a l context that we are a l l t r y i n g to work w i t h i n . Reinharz (1992) comments: . . . l e a r n i n g should occur on three l e v e l s i n any research p r o j e c t : the l e v e l s of person, problem and method. By t h i s I meant that the researcher would l e a r n about h e r s e l f , about the subject matter under study, and about how to conduct research, (p.194) ...on Myself as Teacher/Researcher In the beginning my i n i t i a l assumption about my students not performing as w e l l as the normal p o p u l a t i o n and a view of teaching as something "done to students" had i n f l u e n c e d me to create a program wi t h a h i e r a r c h i c a l s t r u c t u r e . From t h i s top down pe r s p e c t i v e which I r e i n f o r c e d through the use 95 of one way communication p a t t e r n s , the language I used, body language, tone of voic e , s e a t i n g arrangements, l a b e l s w i t h respect to d i s a b i l i t y , and my choices of m a t e r i a l s ; s p e c i a l i z e d downgraded curriculum, elementary l e v e l mathematics and reading, p i c t u r e s i n s t e a d of words, I u n i n t e n t i o n a l l y gave messages to students about how I expected them to behave and f u n c t i o n . What was I r e a l l y saying? C e r t a i n l y not what I had intended t o . I o f t e n f e e l that to some degree adult s p e c i a l education i n s t r u c t o r s have been marginalized, but i n my case i t has proven to be an i n c r e d i b l e opportunity, i n that what I have chosen to do w i t h my students has to a larg e degree been l e f t as my d e c i s i o n . Recognizing that what I had been choosing to do wasn't working I began to experiment w i t h other methods. Methods I had learned i n R e c r e a t i o n a l Therapy, Counseling Psychology courses, and Group Leader T r a i n i n g . Ones. I had s u c c e s s f u l l y used when working as a Re c r e a t i o n a l Therapist. Not having to work w i t h i n s p e c i f i c g u i d e l i n e s or cover s p e c i f i c content m a t e r i a l provided an opportunity to p l a y d i f f e r e n t r o l e s (counselor, i n s t r u c t o r , mother) and to focus my energies on other things besides an academic/vocational s k i l l s based curri c u l u m . A marriage of teaching and counseling s t r a t e g i e s changed my approach from 96 that of "doing to students" to one of "being w i t h students", responsive to t h e i r needs, i n s t e a d of them to mine. I t seems to me that one of the important things I have learned as a r e s u l t of t h i s research i s that no two of my students are the same. There i s always something unique about each student which makes i t impossible to plan before hand the s p e c i f i c steps t h a t a lesson should f o l l o w , i d e n t i f y the a c t i v i t i e s that w i l l work the best, designate the amount of time the lesson w i l l take, or what the l e a r n i n g o b j e c t i v e s w i l l be. Within a s o c i a l context, i t i s f a r too complex to map out a s p e c i f i c p l a n p r i o r to the experience without r e c o g n i z i n g that by doing so, the most important l e a r n i n g f o r those students, i n that classroom, at that moment may be l e f t undiscovered. Learning environments are a l i v e , not s t a t i c . To t a r g e t before hand one set of o b j e c t i v e s out of the enormous number of p o s s i b i l i t i e s that e x i s t w i t h i n a classroom at any given p o i n t i n time l i m i t s the o p p o r t u n i t i e s f o r many students to disc o v e r what i s t r u l y of value to them. And what of the numerous l e a r n i n g o p p o r t u n i t i e s f o r the teacher? Gordon Wells (1994) s t a t e s : ...when the students become i n v o l v e d i n the teacher's i n q u i r y and the teacher i n the students, together they 97 create a community of i n q u i r y i n which a l l l e a r n w i t h and from each other, (p.273) Students can l e a r n so much more than j u s t academic/vocational s k i l l s based c u r r i c u l u m i f we as teachers understand teaching and l e a r n i n g from a d i f f e r e n t p e r s p e c t i v e . ... on How Best to Teach Adult Special Education Students i n a Pre-Employment Program. Working from r e c o l l e c t i o n s of c r i t i c a l i n c i d e n t s i n v o l v i n g students and colleagues, an hour of video t a p i n g , documents of the time, and some j o u r n a l w r i t i n g , I have spent a considerable length of time attempting to a r t i c u l a t e my experiences. Having achieved some degree of s a t i s f a c t i o n on t h i s task, I then moved on to r e f l e c t c r i t i c a l l y on these experiences using t h e o r i e s from A c t i o n Research ( p a r t i c i p a t o r y ; p e r s p e c t i v e s of p o s i t i v i s t , i n t e r p r e t i v i s t , and c r i t i c a l science; and f i v e i n t e r p r e t i v i s t modes); from Counseling Psychology (family systems theory and c l i e n t -centered therapy), and Curriculum Theory ( s o c i a l r e p r o d u c t i o n ) . Out of these experiences and r e f l e c t i o n s I 98 have discovered many f a s c i n a t i n g , yet o f t e n obvious t h i n g s , but what does i t a l l mean? Even from the beginning there e x i s t e d w i t h i n me a vague awareness of much of what have become the prominent themes of communication, behavior, p a t t e r n s , r e l a t i o n s h i p s , r o l e s , and s t r u c t u r e throughout t h i s paper. I had e a r l y on recognized a need to p u l l us together as a group, to move towards a focus on the l e a r n i n g a c t i v i t i e s that h e l d the most meaning f o r my students, and to have re l e v a n t c u r r i c u l u m m a t e r i a l s . I had an awareness of some i n f l u e n t i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p dynamics and that how we l a b e l something i s important. I a l s o began to see things from opposing p e r s p e c t i v e s ; strengths and weaknesses, but chose to maintain a focus on strengths. I f students don't f e e l safe, they choose to do nothing. Having had few o p p o r t u n i t i e s to express t h e i r f e e l i n g s or ideas, they have learned to remain s i l e n t . They have learned that others are more powerful, i n t e l l i g e n t , b e t t e r than themselves. This i s l e a r n i n g of another kind. Many of these students have been co n d i t i o n e d to respond i n the ways that they do and i n order to change t h i s we need to change the environment. Classrooms that look anything l i k e a r e g u l a r classroom, where teachers spend the m a j o r i t y of t h e i r time standing at the f r o n t of the room, students s i t i n rows working on low l e v e l academics, teachers give b r i e f one to one i n s t r u c t i o n s to students as they move around the room or s i t at t h e i r desks marking, w i l l only get more of the same. I have o f t e n thought that t h i s environment i s l i k e l y very s i m i l a r i f not a d u p l i c a t i o n of what many of these students have experienced since the time they were diagnosed as having some kind of d i s a b i l i t y . When a parent approaches and r e l a t e s to a c h i l d that has been l a b e l e d as handicapped, what do they do d i f f e r e n t l y ? How i s t h i s d i f f e r e n c e i n t e r p r e t e d and responded to? What does t h i s d i f f e r e n c e i n behavior teach a c h i l d ? What does t h i s behavior say about the assumptions of the parent? Kathryn Crawford (1995) s t a t e s : According to Vygotsky, consciousness, knowledge and maturing forms of awareness or i n s i g h t have a s o c i a l o r i g i n , and are mediated through a c t i o n i n a s o c i a l context. Furthermore, c o g n i t i v e s t r u c t u r e s are a c t u a l l y formed as a r e s u l t of such a c t i o n , (p.241) 100 These students a l l have r o l e s ; r o l e s that they have been a c t i n g out f o r many years, r o l e s d e r i v e d from experiences i n a s o c i a l context that sees them and t r e a t s them as i n f e r i o r . These students have been ma r g i n a l i z e d , but have no r e c o g n i t i o n that i t can ever be any d i f f e r e n t . Over the past s i x years I have deconstructed my students previous school experiences. I have no desk i n the classroom and students s i t at t a b l e s i n small groups. As l i t t l e as p o s s i b l e of my time i s spent at the f r o n t of the room. More o f t e n I choose to s i t w i t h students or move from the back to the side of the room. During the f i r s t few years of the program I e l i m i n a t e d almost a l l of the s p e c i a l l y designed m a t e r i a l s from our classroom. We have a resource room wi t h books and a computer. I t r e a t my students as people no b e t t e r , no worse than myself, j u s t d i f f e r e n t . I focus on the q u a l i t y of the i n t e r a c t i o n s w i t h i n the " l i v i n g " environment of the program and the process by which we seek i n f o r m a t i o n together, i n c o n t r a s t to what was o r i g i n a l l y an o v e r s i m p l i f i e d academic/vocational s k i l l s based curri c u l u m . Lessons which seem to hold the most meaning f o r these students begin w i t h a question. This must then be connected i n a personal way to previous experiences and understandings, which can then be b u i l t upon. 101 Out of t h e i r day-to-day experiences, students can be challenged to de r i v e an understanding of who "they" are. I t has been my experience that whatever that means to them, they w i l l demonstrate i n t h e i r behavior. When I work w i t h students to help them change t h e i r understanding of a past experience, as t h e i r understanding changes so do they. These experiences have l e f t me wi t h a strong b e l i e f that i t i s the s o c i a l context; the i n t e r r e l a t i o n s h i p s and the r o l e s that we need to focus upon wi t h a view to a l t e r i n g what i s unproductive f o r both our students and ours e l v e s . Susan Hart (1-995) while making reference to her own research suggests t h a t : ...while some ideas emerging from the a n a l y s i s were i n d i v i d u a l - s p e c i f i c , others r a i s e d questions or suggested p o s s i b i l i t i e s f o r development that were r e l e v a n t to a l l c h i l d r e n . This acknowledgement of the p o t e n t i a l g e n e r a l i s a b i l i t y of emerging ideas i s important, because i t means that we can use our study of i n d i v i d u a l s whose l e a r n i n g concerns us to e x t r a p o l a t e general questions and hypotheses about advance a c t i o n we might take to o f f s e t problems and enhance l e a r n i n g g e n e r a l l y , (p.229) 102 Concurring w i t h the above I b e l i e v e that there are aspects a r i s i n g from my research which can be g e n e r a l i z e d to other programs. I have found i t valuable to do assessments, not to l a b e l but to b e t t e r understand my students. I t provides me w i t h more of an awareness of how to meet them at t h e i r l e v e l of understanding and work from there. Gordon Wells (1994) i n Changing Schools from Within r e f e r s to teaching at a 'micro' l e v e l . In Vygotskian terms, t h i s can be described as 'working i n the students' zones of proximal development' (or ZPD), which he defines as the zone w i t h respect to any task between what the student can manage alone and what he or she can achieve w i t h the a s s i s t a n c e of a teacher or more knowledgeable peer. (p.266) Without an awareness of where t h i s zone of proximal development i s f o r each student, much of what i s taught or shared w i t h students has a high p r o b a b i l i t y of being l o s t . While working w i t h these students, I have o f t e n recognized and responded to s h i f t s i n t h e i r behavior which go between that of working w i t h an a d u l t , to that of working w i t h a c h i l d . This i s important to recognize as i t i n d i c a t e s when to teach academic/vocational s k i l l s or to 103 focus on the personal unresolved issues which surface i n r e l a t i o n to a c t i v i t i e s and people i n the environment. When students seem to go back to a c h i l d ' s p e r s p e c t i v e , a c h i l d ' s way of coping, they need to be met at t h i s r e a l i t y , one that I b e l i e v e to be r e a l f o r that student at that p o i n t i n time. Attempts to draw the student i n t o your r e a l i t y w i l l not work. From here teacher and student can work together to f i r s t understand the experience, and l a t e r to give i t new meaning. I t i s to l e a r n i n g on t h i s l e v e l that I have chosen to give p r i o r i t y . Students who have gained a b e t t e r understanding of themselves seem more able to give f u l l a t t e n t i o n to academics and v o c a t i o n a l s k i l l s t r a i n i n g , and are, t h e r e f o r e , more s u c c e s s f u l i n these endeavours. When I began to recognize that what I had been teaching wouldn't make these students employable, I f e l l back to a l a r g e extent on understandings and experiences from Counseling Psychology courses taken some ten years ago. Courses which had l e f t me w i t h heavy leanings towards Cl i e n t - C e n t e r e d Therapy. Recently reviewing Gerald Corey (1982) Theory and P r a c t i c e of Counseling and Psychotherapy, i t would seem that my way of working w i t h students i s very much rooted here. He has c o n s i s t e n t l y maintained that there are three c o n d i t i o n s f o r r e l e a s i n g a growth-promoting cl i m a t e i n 104 which i n d i v i d u a l s can move forward and become what they are capable of becoming. These c o n d i t i o n s are (1)genuineness, or r e a l n e s s ; (2)acceptance, or c a r i n g ; and (3)deep understanding. I f these a t t i t u d e s are communicated by the helper to the one helped, Rogers p o s t u l a t e s , these people w i l l become l e s s defensive and more open to the experience w i t h i n themselves and i n t h e i r w o r l d — a n d they w i l l behave i n ways that are s o c i a l and c o n s t r u c t i v e , (p.82) In a s s i s t i n g students to b e t t e r understand t h e i r o f t e n unproductive r o l e s w i t h i n a s o c i a l context, I have found that an understanding of systems theory i s u s e f u l . The strength here being that i t i s personal, can be l i n k e d to student experiences and understandings, and can be used to assess i n t e r r e l a t i o n s h i p patterns of both the present and the past. The s o c i a l s t r u c t u r e that evolved while doing a c t i o n research proved to be s i m i l a r to d e s c r i p t i o n s of communities of l e a r n e r s , l i b e r a t o r y classrooms, and healthy f a m i l y systems. Reinharz (1992) s t a t e s : To achieve an e g a l i t a r i a n r e l a t i o n , the researcher abandons c o n t r o l and adopts an approach of openness, 105 r e c i p r o c i t y , m u t u a l d i s c l o s u r e , and shared r i s k . (p.181) I t would seem that these d i f f e r e n t d i s c i p l i n e s are moving i n s i m i l a r d i r e c t i o n s w i t h t h e i r t h i n k i n g , although they describe things using d i f f e r e n t l a b e l s or terminology. A l l of the l a t t e r are described as people working i n groups, groups i n which " a l l " of the people at d i f f e r e n t p o i n t s i n time are l e a r n i n g new t h i n g s . They experience strong mutual support from one another and are working towards some common goals. The teacher, leader or parent a l l p l a y s i m i l a r , but o f t e n s h i f t i n g r o l e s where the i n t e n t seems to be to get the r e s t of the members to t h i n k and act f o r themselves, be r e s p o n s i b l e f o r t h e i r own work, to be able to stand on t h e i r own or when needed, to support each other. Words such as emancipated, empowered, d i f f e r e n t i a t e d , independance are used to describe the i d e a l that each i n d i v i d u a l i s to a t t a i n . To reach t h i s i d e a l I b e l i e v e that s e v e r a l things need to e x i s t ; a s o c i a l environment that students can take a c t i o n w i t h i n , a common purpose or goal which can be academic and/or v o c a t i o n a l s k i l l s t r a i n i n g , and a focus on l e a r n i n g about the i n t e r a c t i o n s that occur as a way f o r students to l e a r n more about themselves as l e a r n e r s and as s o c i a l human beings. As students gain more knowledge and understanding of themselves w i t h i n a s o c i a l context they begin t a k i n g r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r themselves and t h e i r a c t i o n s , a 106 l i b e r a t i o n from t h e i r previous r o l e s . Barbara Rogoff (1994) s t a t e s , "The i n s t r u c t i o n a l discourse i n a community-of-l e a r n e r s classroom i s c o n v e r s a t i o n a l r a t h e r than using the t r a d i t i o n a l question-response-evaluation format"(p.214). For my l e a r n e r s , dialogue was the key to the process of change. I t was out of continued r a t i o n a l dialogue (ongoing d i s c u s s i o n s as a way of reaching l o g i c a l / r e a s o n a b l e conclusions about why we do something the way we do) that new understandings of experiences, new meanings, and new behavior grew. ... on Action Research McCutcheon and Jung (1990) s t a t e t h a t , "While pe r s p e c t i v e s and methodologies vary, by " a c t i o n research" here we mean i n q u i r y teachers undertake to understand and improve t h e i r own p r a c t i c e " ( p . 1 4 4 ) . As a way to s u b s t a n t i a t e my c l a i m of doing a c t i o n research I w i l l frame my experiences using three p e r s p e c t i v e s f o r a c t i o n research, draw s i m i l a r i t i e s w i t h f i v e i n t e r p r e t i v i s t modes and conclude w i t h a response to some c r i t e r i a one can use to judge the q u a l i t y of a c t i o n research. 107 McCutcheon and Jung (1990) discus s three p e r s p e c t i v e s f o r a c t i o n research; p o s i t i v i s t , i n t e r p r e t i v i s t , and c r i t i c a l science. I b e l i e v e I have moved through a l l three, although at t h i s p o i n t I see myself as having l i n g e r e d i n the i n t e r p r e t i v i s t p e r s p e c t i v e the longest. In the beginning I saw students who d i d one job at a time, couldn't, t r a n s f e r what they knew about one job to another, and stood s t i l l u n t i l someone t o l d them what to do. They had d i f f i c u l t y f o l l o w i n g v e r b a l i n s t r u c t i o n s and t h e i r work was o f t e n done i n c o r r e c t l y . McCutcheon and Jung describe a p o s i t i v i s t i c p e r s p e c t i v e as: ... working w i t h i n p o s i t i v i s t i c p r o p o s i t i o n s that speak to (a) behavior that i s determined, g e n e r a l i z a b l e , and m o d i f i a b l e ; (b) methods that are considered to be number-or i e n t e d , unbiased, and v a l i d . (1990, p. 145-146) Having a b e l i e f that we needed to teach these students something besides s k i l l s , as I watched I began to wonder: Can students t e l l time? Can they i d e n t i f y what jobs need to be done? What do they n o t i c e when they are working? What stops them from i d e n t i f y i n g when they don't 108 understand something? These questions I i n i t i a l l y sought to answer by making what I thought were unbiased observations as my students d i d assigned work. S t i l l assuming that students would l e a r n more slow l y and would r e q u i r e an adjusted d e l i v e r y (simple, slow, step-by-step) i n order to l e a r n , I had no doubt i n my mind that once I discovered what e l s e they needed to l e a r n and taught i t , that these and future students would then be employable. As time went on, the q u a l i t y of my questions changed. Seeking answers r e q u i r e d a more in-depth look. I n t e r p r e t i v e philosophy o f t e n t i g h t r o p e s between i n v e s t i g a t i o n and i n t e r v e n t i o n . In i n v e s t i g a t i n g the c o n s t r u c t s teachers and students use to make sense of t h e i r r e s p e c t i v e worlds, the researcher comes f a c e - t o -face w i t h the s o c i a l s i t u a t i o n s that r e v e a l such constructs and the taken-for-granted components of such worlds. (McCutcheon & Jung, 1990, p. 14 6) I was s h i f t i n g i n t o an i n t e r p r e t i v i s t p e r s p e c t i v e demonstrated by a focus on r e c u r r i n g patterns and the i n t e r a c t i o n s between those i n v o l v e d i n the program. I began to wonder: 109 Can students i d e n t i f y how they f e e l ? Can they describe someone e l s e ' s behavior? Can students i d e n t i f y what worked w e l l today? Can students i d e n t i f y what doesn't work w e l l ? When a c o n f l i c t a r i s e s can students i d e n t i f y who owns the problem? Can students o f f e r suggestions f o r change when something doesn't work? How do we get students to work together as a team? I began to openly i d e n t i f y and question people's behavior i n order to gain some understanding f o r myself and my students as to what might be happening. Susan Hart (1995) takes a c l o s e r look at the i n t e r p r e t i v i s t i c p e r s p e c t i v e , o f f e r i n g f i v e d i s t i n c t i n t e r p r e t i v e modes from which p r a c t i t i o n e r researchers might analyze t h e i r p r a c t i c e . She goes on to suggest that t h i s methodology e n t a i l s , "... a procedure as ri g o r o u s , c r i t i c a l and s e l f - c r i t i c a l as the most exacting ( t r a d i t i o n a l ) research process"(p.228). What f o l l o w s i s the summarized account of these modes from her a r t i c l e . The i n t e r c o n n e c t i v e mode explores p o s s i b l e l i n k s between 110 the c h i l d and the l e a r n i n g context, asking "What i n t h i s s i t u a t i o n might be h e l p i n g to produce t h i s response?' The o p p o s i t i o n a l mode challenges i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s p r e v i o u s l y made by o f f e r i n g a l t e r n a t i v e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s of the same evidence, asking "How e l s e might t h i s response be understood?" I t seeks to uncover the norms and assumptions u n d e r l y i n g a judgment, so that these can be reviewed and evaluated. The decentered mode encourages us to challenge i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s made from w i t h i n the teacher's frame of reference, by i n v i t i n g us to t r y to appreciate the meaning and l o g i c of the c h i l d ' s response from the c h i l d ' s p o i n t of•view. I t asks "What meaning and purpose does t h i s a c t i v i t y have f o r the c h i l d ? " The a f f e c t i v e mode examines the part that f e e l i n g s are p l a y i n g i n a s i t u a t i o n , and i n l e a d i n g us to a r r i v e at a p a r t i c u l a r i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . I t asks "How do I f e e l about t h i s ? " and "What do these f e e l i n g s t e l l me about what i s going on here?" The h y p o t h e t i c a l mode asks whether there might be a need to suspend judgment f o r the time being i n order to l e a r n more. I t asks "What e l s e do I need to do/learn i n order I l l to be able to reach an adequate understanding of t h i s c h i l d ' s l e a r n i n g ? " (p. 224) As evidenced i n my w r i t i n g of i n c i d e n t s w i t h students and questions I've asked myself about what i s r e a l l y going on, I have come to use a l l of these modes. I t has become my p r a c t i c e to look at things from as many d i f f e r e n t p e r s p e c t i v e s as p o s s i b l e before I take a c t i o n . Of the i d e n t i f i e d modes I have found the a f f e c t i v e ( my i n t u i t i o n or t a c i t knowledge) and the h y p o t h e t i c a l to be my s t a r t i n g p o i n t s . Once I have an understanding on t h i s l e v e l I move f u r t h e r , questioning from yet other p e r s p e c t i v e s . An i n q u i r y a r i s i n g from the r e a l i z a t i o n that one of my students had begun to repeat many of the same or s u s p i c i o u s l y s i m i l a r s t o r i e s and s i t u a t i o n s from the previous year had l e d me to ask: What might I l e a r n about students from t h e i r behavior? What do students r e s i s t doing? What do students p r e f e r to do i f given a choice? How does t h i s student organize to do a task? Does he/she organize i n s i m i l a r ways wi t h new tasks? What does t h e i r behavior i n d i c a t e they might be good at? What purpose does a behavior p a t t e r n serve? When d i d t h i s behavior f i r s t s t a r t ? 112 What does t h i s behavior mean? What purpose d i d t h i s behavior serve then and i s i t ser v i n g now? A r i s i n g from Simon's statement about a d i f f e r e n c e i n student l e v e l s of performance when I was away from the program, motivated me to take a c l o s e r look at myself. What d i d I do d i f f e r e n t l y when working w i t h students? Comparing myself w i t h my c o - i n s t r u c t o r I sought to understand: Was there a d i f f e r e n c e i n the way we communicated? What d i d we do d i f f e r e n t l y ? What d i d we do the same? What kinds of things d i d we say? How d i d we say i t ? What d i d the body language look l i k e ? Are students responding to words or body language or both? What words and body language do students respond to most favorably? My own experiences and t h e o r i e s from Family Therapy had taught me to look at i n t e r a c t i o n s as r e c u r s i v e , and groups of people as a whole i n which each person i s p l a y i n g a r o l e . From t h i s p e r s p e c t i v e i t was e a s i e r to view my students as something other than handicapped. As I gained f a m i l i a r i t y w i t h these new i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s , I began asking questions l i k e : What d i d our students' f a m i l i e s of o r i g i n look l i k e ? Were they p l a y i n g out some of t h e i r past h i s t o r y i n the program? Were we, the i n s t r u c t o r s , p l a y i n g out any of our past h i s t o r y ? What are common p e r s o n a l i t y t r a i t s of f i r s t born, middle, youngest, and only c h i l d r e n ? Are there predominantly more of one b i r t h order than another i n t h i s program? What b i r t h orders seek each other out when asked to form a group? What happens when you put a l l one b i r t h order i n a group? Of l a t e I have moved more towards a c r i t i c a l science p e r s p e c t i v e described by McCutcheon and Jung (1990) as: ... a concerted e f f o r t to re-examine the taken-for-granted and i n s t i t u t i o n a l i z e d c o n s t r a i n t s of sc h o o l i n g such as scheduling, compartmentalization of subject matter, and discouragement of r a t i o n a l dialogue between teacher and student, (p.147-148) 114 Questioning f i r s t my own behavior, I sought to understand: Why d i d I use d i f f e r e n t kinds of language when d e s c r i b i n g two of my students? What i s the d i f f e r e n c e between the language I use to describe one student and the language I use f o r another? How does my choice of language e f f e c t my students? What does t h i s say about me? How does t h i s t h i n k i n g i n f l u e n c e my behavior? I have since moved on to ask questions l i k e : Who i s the present system r e a l l y serving? Whose needs are r e a l l y being met? What are we r e a l l y teaching? How can I i n f l u e n c e a change outside my own classroom? To judge the q u a l i t y of a c t i o n research A l t r i c h t e r et a l (1993) suggest that there are four important c r i t e r i a : Have the understandings gained from the research been cross-checked against the per s p e c t i v e s of a l l those concerned and/or other researchers? (p.74) Have the understandings gained from research been t e s t e d 115 through p r a c t i c a l a c t i o n ? (p.77) Are the research methods compatible w i t h both educational aims and democratic human values? (p.77) Are the research design and data c o l l e c t i o n compatible w i t h the demands of teaching? (p.80) Responding to the l a t t e r questions, I f e e l that my a c t i o n research p r a c t i c e s meet the expectations A l t r i c h t e r et a l suggest. In accordance w i t h e t h i c a l procedures l a i d out f o r t h i s research, a f t e r the completing the w r i t i n g of the f i r s t four chapters I returned to Jean and Simon to seek t h e i r feedback. They both gave favorable responses i n d i c a t i n g approval and a match w i t h t h e i r own r e c o l l e c t i o n s of events. When the f i n a l chapter was complete I met w i t h colleagues and students to share and seek t h e i r responses. Simon commented that as he read, i t s t i m u l a t e d yet more p o s s i b i l i t i e s . Jean f e l t that i n the rereading she had become aware of d i f f e r e n t l e v e l s of understanding suggesting that i t could be j u s t a s t o r y , but i t was a l s o i n s i g h t f u l about what r e a l l y goes on i n the program that most people never see. I t a l s o o f f e r e d a c l e a r e r understanding of me, h e r s e l f and those around her which she f e l t had i n some ways been a h e a l i n g process. The students a l l i n d i c a t e d 116 agreement w i t h the experiences I had w r i t t e n about. C r y s t a l who read the e n t i r e paper came back w i t h two pages of w r i t t e n comments. She concurred w i t h my thoughts on her being i n f l u e n c e d by those around her and we discussed the power that c e r t a i n words seemed to hold. O v e r a l l she s t a t e d that i t had been i n f o r m a t i v e , even p a i n f u l i n p l a c e s , s t i m u l a t i n g a p l e t h o r a of thoughts. Cross-checking p e r s p e c t i v e s w i t h students and co-workers was and i s s t i l l r o u t i n e l y done i n our program. New understandings are t e s t e d and r e - t e s t e d during the day-to-day workings i n the classroom and i n the k i t c h e n . Educational aims t r y to capture both what i s important to the student as w e l l as important to the i n s t i t u t i o n , and democratic values are c e n t r a l i n my philosophy of teaching. Of greatest s i g n i f i c a n c e to me i s that t h i s research methodology has become my teaching methodology, thus making i t t o t a l l y compatible w i t h the demands of teaching as I now understand them to be. However, I wish to recognize that I have been fortunate i n having had co-workers, who without t h e i r continued support, I may never have had the opportunity to observe, r e f l e c t and take a c t i o n to q u i t e the same degree. What occurred as a r e s u l t of t h i s A c t i o n Research process seems i n some respects to be a journey I've taken 117 before. One taken i n my personal l i f e , where having experienced a safe and c a r i n g environment I had the opportunity to l e a r n about myself and to discover what worked best f o r me. Since having experienced t h i s , I f i n d myself c o n t i n u a l l y s t r i v i n g to recreate and maintain something s i m i l a r f o r myself and those around me. The methodology of a c t i o n research, one of questioning, a n a l y s i n g , r e f l e c t i n g and a c t i n g as a way of informing and changing p r a c t i c e has i n my mind a l s o become my teaching methodology. As I model an a c t i o n research, q u e s t i o n / a c t i o n s p i r a l i n the day to day happenings of the program I encourage students to do the same. This process allows me to maintain a safe and c a r i n g environment where a l l those w i t h i n have the opportunity to f i n d t h e i r own way and to share and l e a r n w i t h others. Going back to McCutcheon and Jung (1990) and t h e i r d e s c r i p t i o n of a c t i o n research as, " i n q u i r y teachers undertake to understand and improve t h e i r own p r a c t i c e " ( p . 1 4 4 ) , I b e l i e v e that the research I conducted over the s i x years described, although i t was c o n s t a n t l y changing p e r s p e c t i v e s and methodology was a c t i o n research, as I c o n t i n u a l l y analyzed, r e f l e c t e d on and changed my p r a c t i c e . 118 ...Quest(ion)ing At present Simon, Jean and myself can s t i l l be found working w i t h students i n the Seniors' Centre where customers are now greeted by students dressed i n t r a d i t i o n a l b l a c k and white. The t a b l e s are adorned wi t h dusty rose t a b l e c l o t h s w i t h flowered centerpieces. Once guests are seated they are o f f e r e d a menu and a choice of something to d r i n k . Through the window i n t o the k i t c h e n , awaiting orders are the k i t c h e n s t a f f dressed i n white uniforms w i t h chef hats. Students perform a l l restaurant jobs; w a i t e r / w a i t r e s s , bus person, c a s h i e r , dishwasher, s a l a d chef, cook, g r i l l cook, and expediter. The restaurant i s open f o r b r e a k f a s t and lunch four days a week, o f f e r i n g ten short order items i n a d d i t i o n to the d a i l y soup and s p e c i a l . We a l s o provide banquet and coffee s e r v i c e f o r workshops on a f a i r l y r e g u l a r b a s i s . Students have a l o t to do w i t h the planning and o r g a n i z a t i o n of t h e i r own work; menus, d a i l y s p e c i a l s , banquets, and workshop s e r v i c e . We can and do f u n c t i o n l i k e a r e a l r e s t a u r a n t . Who would have thought that these students would have been capable of achieving so much? I t has become my p e r s p e c t i v e that what goes on i n a classroom, i n a program or i n any s o c i a l context i s i n c r e d i b l y complex. One needs to address issues of s o c i a l 119 s t r u c t u r e , the r o l e s and the i n t e r - r e l a t i o n s h i p s that occur w i t h i n an environment to uncover what hinders l e a r n i n g , r a t h e r than conveniently a t t a c h i n g a p h y s i c a l , b e h a v i o r a l or emotional cause to a s i n g l e person. What d i c t a t e s the s o c i a l s t r u c t u r e , the r o l e s and the i n t e r - r e l a t i o n s which occur are rooted i n the understandings and meanings that each i n d i v i d u a l puts to t h e i r experiences i n l i f e . Our understanding and meanings are constructed out of our communications/interactions w i t h one another. New understandings l e a d to new behavior, new r o l e s . New understandings can a r i s e out of d i a l o g u i n g to deconstruct o l d understandings and then r e c o n s t r u c t new meaning. I have come a long way from my i n i t i a l assumption that a step by step lesson focused on academic/vocational s k i l l s was the best way to teach a d u l t s p e c i a l education students. At t h i s p o i n t i n my journey, which I see as s t i l l u n f o l d i n g , I have r e c e n t l y turned my thoughts to some broader questions. Do the f i n d i n g s from my research have i m p l i c a t i o n s w i t h respect to what goes on i n " r e g u l a r " classrooms, schools, and work environments? I f so, f o r me i t r a i s e s questions about the p r a c t i c e of mainstreaming as i t i s p r e s e n t l y being done and about the r e l a t i o n s h i p dynamics between the so c a l l e d "adult s p e c i a l education 12 s t u d e n t s " and the p e o p l e who work d i r e c t l y w i t h them ( t e a c h e r s , a i d e s , c a r e w o r k e r s , n u r s e s , p a r e n t s ) . F u r t h e r e x p l o r a t i o n i n t o environments o u t s i d e t h e s e g r e g a t e d c l a s s r o o m seems w a r r a n t e d . How. many d i f f e r e n t p e o p l e a re i n v o l v e d w i t h one s t u d e n t ? How many o f t h e s e unknowingly s u p p o r t o r m a i n t a i n the e x i s t e n c e o f t h e s e s t u d e n t s a t low f u n c t i o n a l l e v e l s ? 121 REFERENCES A l t r i c h e r , H., Posch, P. & Somekh, B. (1993). Teachers i n v e s t i g a t e t h e i r work. New York: Routledge. Anyon, J . (1988). Schools as agencies of s o c i a l l e g i t i m a t i o n . In W. Pina r (Ed.), Contemporary cu r r i c u l u m discourses (pp.175-200). S c o t t s d a l e , AR: Gorsuch S c a r i b r i c k . Becvar, D.S. & Becvar, R.J. (1988). Family therapy: A systemic i n t e g r a t i o n . Boston: A l l y n &. Bacon, Inc. Corey, G. (1982). Theory and p r a c t i c e of counseling and psychotherapy. Monteray, CA: Brooks/Cole. Crawford, K. (1995). What do Vygotskyian approaches to psychology have to o f f e r a c t i o n research? Educational A c t i o n Research, 3,(2), 239-247. Grosz, E. (1990). Jacques Lacan: A f e m i n i s t i n t r o d u c t i o n . New York: Routledge. Hart, S. (1995). A c t i o n - i n - r e f l e c t i o n . Educational A c t i o n Research, 3(2), 211-247. K l i e b a r d , H. (1992), Forging the American c u r r i c u l u m . New York:Routledge, Chapman & H a l l . McCutcheon, G. & Jung, B. (1990). A l t e r n a t i v e p e r s p e c t i v e s on a c t i o n research. Theory i n t o P r a c t i c e , 29(3), 144-151. Noddings, N. (1992). The challenge to care i n school. New York: Teachers College Press. Noddings, N. & Shore, P.J. (1984). Awakening the inner eye. New York: Teachers College Press. Reinharz, Shulamut (1992). Feminist methods i n s o c i a l research.New York: Oxford U n i v e r s i t y Press. 122 Rogoff, B. (1994). Developing understanding of the idea of communities of l e a r n e r s . Mind, C u l t u r e , and A c t i v i t y , 1(4), 209-229. Shor, I . (1987). C r i t i c a l teaching and everyday l i f e . Chicago, IL: U n i v e r s i t y of Chicago Press. Wells, G. (1994). Changing schools from w i t h i n : C r e a t i n g communities of i n q u i r y . Toronto: OISE Press. 

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