|dc.description.abstract||The purpose of this narrative inquiry study was to explore what happens when teachers facilitate dialogue in standards-based literacy classrooms. This work was grounded in critical theory, which considers issues of power and justice and how they impact individuals as well as groups. Critical educators assume all education is political; accordingly, they work to make visible what are often invisible power structures. Critical educators take an inquiry stance on their own classrooms; in so doing they consider their own power as well as the diversity of their students’ positioning in the learning environment (Freire, 2000; Giroux, 2007; Kincheloe, 2008; McLaren & Kincheloe, 2007).
Four teachers participated in a five-month investigation. Participants wrote narratives regarding their use of dialogue during instruction. We met to interrogate their narratives considering teacher power as well as the challenges of facilitating dialogue. I conducted 30 observations to provide context and a point of triangulation for the interpretation of the narratives. The data were analyzed from a critical theoretical stance, using a descriptive oral inquiry process, induction, and narrative analysis.
Findings suggested that teachers’ mindful positioning and purposeful moves to encourage dialogue are crucial. As many researchers have suggested, teachers have to decide they want to change traditional recitation patterns in order to embrace more dialogic ones (Barnes & Todd, 1995; John, 2009; Mehan, 1979; Schuh, 2003). They then have to actively support students as they learn new ways and reasons to communicate in class.
Findings also illuminated potential challenges involved in facilitating dialogue in standards-based classes. Most notably, teachers may unwittingly sanction silence rather than dialogue, especially when students are working independently. Teachers who want to sanction dialogue in the classroom may consider techniques such as: welcoming, active listening, inquiring, scaffolding, and/or authentic questioning.||