A reflective gaze of the classroom space
Clark, Sharon Rose
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Race, class, and gender elitism can shape the structure of the classroom, creating a lived reality of insider versus outsider that is predetermined, often in place before any class discussion begins. This research study focused on looking at a teacher’s practices from a poststructural perspective, the teacher’s vulnerability to dominant school discourses, and the realization that she could begin to work towards understanding her part in granting or withholding recognition of her students. A yearlong study was conducted in the teacher’s own third grade classroom to better understand how she could help her students realize that they did have control over their lives and were capable of making important decisions. Applying poststructural theory, the teacher used research practices that would not determine a single truth because the diversity of the students’ experiences were filled with contradictory truths and multiple subject positionings; therefore, the purpose of the analysis of the data in this yearlong study was not to unravel and find truths, but to trouble and deconstruct the discourses in our everyday lives. The teacher set out to provide a poststructural reading of the student’s worlds, showing the many layers and complexities, the difference and insights, disrupting certainties and seeing possibilities in the silences opened up by the disruptions. The findings from this study, presented through classroom conversations, student work, and the teacher’s reflective and critical self, illuminates how the teacher recognized the students as competent spokespeople of their own lived realities. The students’ voices were prominent in the exploration of what was going on in their worlds and the perspectives their worlds offered. The students and teacher engaged in moments in which their encounters occurred so the possibility of new thinking could occur.