Stories of how art teachers use art making to reflect on professional practice
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Research shows the choices a teacher makes in the classroom are grounded in more than pedagogy, technical skill, and formal preparation through acquisition of teaching methods, materials and techniques. A teacher’s professional decisions are shaped by personal and professional histories, life experiences, current endeavors, and expectations for the future (Clandinin & Connelly, 1995). In this qualitative narrative study, I focused on the ways art making might be utilized as a professional development tool for reflection on the intersection of teacher identity and practice. During the summer of 2012, in collaboration with the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas, six Austin Independent School District art teachers and I shared personal and professional reflections inspired by our art making. I used narrative analysis and coding to interpret and reveal the ways teachers used art to reflect on their identity and professional practice. In addition to these findings, this study revealed that teachers have a desire and need to reflect on the intersection of identity and practice. The lack of current research on identity as a shaping force of professional practice was the primary motivator in pursuing this research. Identity and the internal lives of teachers play a powerful role in the way they educate young people. Research such as this study emphasizes identity as a valuable and integral part of teaching work. Our perspective of the teaching profession needs to expand beyond an occupational sum of its parts: curriculum, management and learning assessment. Recognizing and addressing the ways teachers’ dispositions shape their teaching practice (Hansen, 2005) through future research can boldly expand definitions of professional development and the teaching profession to include teachers’ internal lives.