Citation
A circle of voices

Material Information

Title:
A circle of voices four bilingual educators sharing their critical stories
Creator:
Marasco, Laura LaVaun
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
167 leaves : ; 28 cm

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Teachers -- Biography -- Colorado ( lcsh )
Education, Bilingual -- Colorado ( lcsh )
Teachers of Mexican Americans -- Biography -- Colorado ( lcsh )
Education, Bilingual ( fast )
Teachers ( fast )
Teachers of Mexican Americans ( fast )
Colorado ( fast )
Genre:
Biography. ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
Biography ( fast )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 156-167).
General Note:
School of Education and Human Development
Statement of Responsibility:
by Laura LaVaun Marasco.

Record Information

Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
|Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
54697178 ( OCLC )
ocm54697178
Classification:
LD1190.E3 2003d M37 ( lcc )

Full Text
A CIRCLE OF VOICES:
FOUR BILINGUAL EDUCATORS SHARING THEIR CRITICAL STORIES
by
Laura LaVaun Marasco
B A., Hanover College, 1967
M.A., Indiana University, 1974
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Educational Leadership and Innovation
2003
I
i


This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
degree by
Laura LaVaun Marasco
has been approved
by
Charles Mena
Carmen Braun Williams
y-/f-ac>03
Date


Marasco, Laura LaVaun (Ph D., Educational Leadership and Innovation)
A Circle of Voices: Four Bilingual Educators Sharing Their Critical Stories
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Sally Nathenson-Mejia
ABSTRACT
This qualitative research is a narrative inquiry study of the storied lives of four
bilingual educators. The study examines our lived experiences through the telling
and retelling of stories and demonstrates how they come to inform our professional
practice. Particular emphasis is placed on relationship, identity in curriculum and
critical pedagogy within the framework of bilingual education.
The research methodology was narrative inquiry. Four bilingual teachers
participated in this study. All are non-traditional college students; three are first
generation. They all started their bilingual teaching career as paraprofessionals and
are now working on postgraduate education. The four participants are bilingual;
two are bicultural and two are Latina. They are friends.
Data included videotapes of classes, personal and professional philosophy
papers, reflection writings, e-mail correspondence and 8 interviews. Each


I
I
I
!
i participant was interviewed individually twice. There were two group
conversations. Each was approximately an hour long.
Our circle allowed us to remember, remind and reflect on our own cultural
learning experiences and collaborate on these stories to explore the impact of them
on our personal and professional lives. These bilingual/bicultural storied voices
contribute to the research because they tell a different story, one which is not often
I heard in mainstream American education.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.
Signed ^

Cy Sally Nathenson^fClejia
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Seth Hannah
DEDICATION

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tocKe Celia~Nata'e<$G/^
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To my circle of voices..
Z.
Who lived the stories
Who told the stories
Who heard the stories
Who shared the stories
And who begged to hear them
again and again...


A/

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f0lice&Carrie Guido,


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
I now have an understanding for lengthy acknowledgements in books and long-
winded Oscar winners. Big projects spanning many years require thanksgiving to a
cast of hundreds, if not thousands, without whom the final product would remain
simply an unspoken, and most assuredly, an unwritten dream.
My list is as long as my life, and still incomplete. How can one adequately thank
and remember all those whose storied lives intersect with ones own? And yet,
there are those, whose names I must offer here, who directly deserve my deepest
gratitude for assistance with this dissertation writing.
First, I would like to offer my profound professional respect and personal love to
my dissertation chairperson, Dr. Sally Nathenson-Mejia, without whom my stories
would never have been heard, let alone written. Sally, thanks for lending me your
grandmothers story, tu, tu, tu I have been blessed by it and now return it to you.
For my committee members: Chuck Mena, who has always believed I could and
should write this story; Nancy French, whose soft-spoken assurances gave me
confidence along the way, and Carmen Williams, who shares an interest in my work
and world. I say a thousand thank yous.
To the participants in this study, Adriana, Dolores and Shawn. Milgracias for
sharing your stories, your time, and especially your love. Your encouragement and
friendship have enriched my life beyond measure.
Thanks to the former HACMS lab participants and Drs. Mark Clarke and Alan
Davis. Your circle of voices continues to run in my head and heart. You challenged
me to be cautious in my work and courageous in my beliefs.
For the thousands of students in my classrooms over the years who taught me far
more than I taught them, thank you. I especially want to recognize those
paraprofessionals/students in the two grants that I have directed. Your
perseverance, good humor, and dedication to children continue to be an inspiration
to me.
During these last four years I have had the unconditional support of my colleagues
at work. Sonny, your spiritual gifts have enlarged my soul. Thank you for the
hours and ears you gave me to listen to my tales. Cheryl, your encouragement and
belief that I could meet my deadlines gave me the confidence when I had none of


my own. Thank you for managing the office when only writing was on my mind.
Lori, your willingness to track down references and proofread saved me hours of
corrections and errors. You were like having a research assistant on call. Thank you
for your dedication and friendship. To my boss, Shirley, a thousand thanks for your
support, willingness to rearrange my hours, run interference and be the taskmaster
that I needed to meet my deadlines. You are the big sister I never had. I am
grateful for your friendship and love. Marjorie, you were always there on the end of
the phone line and served as confidante and advisor to my life. Nancy, thanks for
traveling so far each month to check in on my progress and share our storied lives in
LMO. Jonathan, remember how we thought that 20-page article we co-authored was
hard work! Thanks for appearing at the door to check my progress. Walter, 1
needed those coffee breaks and a chance to vent. You kept my student and
professional life in balance during the entire process. Thank you.
To my friends in Denver, Chris and Ron Thornam, 1 give thanks for your basement
bedroom and your hospitality on my many trips to Denver, and on snowy nights
when it was too dangerous to drive back up the mountain. Chris, your friendship,
which began the day we were interviewed to become doctoral students, has
sustained me through all these semesters of classes, papers, projects, comps, and
finally the dissertation. It has been a joy traveling this road with you. Thanks, Ron,
for enduring all these years of shop talk. To Lorenso, thanks for paving the way!
Across the miles, three friends in particular, deserve my gratitude. Rob Dolan, you
provided a place for me to hang my hat. Thanks for the dinners, the wine and great
conversations. Doug McDonald, for 32 years you have known this day would arrive
for me. You never allowed geography to detour your support. Thanks for being
there from the beginning of the journey. To my traveling companion in Italy, and
prayer supporter in New York City, Bill Gehron. Thanks for being my friend,
consultant, mentor writer and for offering me a place at the beach when my writing
is done.
To my Mother and Father. You have left the legacy that learning is lifelong and
important, but it is nothing without family. Even now your influence carries into the
third generation. Thank you for my life. I miss you.
From my uncles 1 received these gifts, which sustained me during my doctoral
studies, for which I now say molto grazie.
Uncle Angelo: It is never too late to go back to school.
Uncle Felice: There is always an occasion to dance.
Uncle Ray: There is humor and cause for laughter all around us.


Uncle Harry: There is always something to discover.
Uncle Art: Perfection takes time, patience and practice.
To my Uncle Dave, your wordsmithing in letters and lyrics inspires me to write
with passion. Your narratives are always worth reading more than once. Thank you
for believing that I could do more in my life than sing Buttons and Bows.
To all my aunts, forever thanks for the letters and phone messages that encouraged
me along the way. Aunt Nancy, you were the first to dare to write the words, Dr.
Marasco. You all stepped in to fill my parents shoes and share in my joy of
accomplishment. I love you.
Sisters, what can I say? How can 1 tell you how much your support and love has
meant to me? Nancy, you opened your home every Wednesday for three years for
me to crash after driving from Glenwood to Denver for classes. You knew all my
professors by name because you listened to every exciting, boring and always long
story of my academic life. Thanks for having dinner ready and the printer on.
Remember I told you when this was over you could have any one of the letters P, h,
or D.? You earned it! Which one do you want? Amy, in these last months our roles
have been reversed. You have become the big bossy sister, calling more than
telemarketers, pushing me towards completion of each chapter, holding me
accountable and celebrating page by page. Your expectations were huge, and you
made me rise to reach them. Thanks for giving me permission to eat as much
rigatoni and milanos as I wanted during the writing
Thank you, my children.
Sara, for so believing that 1 would finish, you planned my celebration party way in
advance. Thank you for bringing your family to visit me when 1 was too busy to
travel to visit you, and Dirk for always making sure my windshield washer was
filled when I did. Thank you both for valuing family and for keeping the names and
stories alive for Holden and Locke.
Kate, right to the end you were online with me, helping me even when 1 lost this
document. You were my rock. For all the days and nights that Ralph, Hannah and
Dominic had to fend for themselves while you were transcribing for me, thank you
family, for sharing your wife and mother. Hannah, you were the first to call me,
Nonna. Thank you for creating a grandmothers story to tell. Dominic, for always
requiring new versions of old bedtime stories, thank you for the practice.
Emily, I thank you for your faith and prayers. You never failed to ask me how my
work was going and encouraged me with your assurances. Your matter of fact view


of the world continues to ground me and our conversations always expand my
thinking. To Olivia, Amber and Celia, you give me great joy, watching you grow,
enriched by the biculturism of your lives. You are models for the way the world
could be.
Seth, buddy, what can I tell you that you dont already know? As I was writing my
dissertation, you were writing your Masters thesis. We have been soul mates in
cyberspace for the past year and I would travel anywhere with you now, especially
across the stage to receive our diplomas. They say, the apple doesnt fall very far
from the tree. Dad would be proud of us both. We did it! And together.
And finally, to Elena Lucrezia Comaro of Venice, the first female Ph D. in the
world. Across the Ocean and Ages, 1 continue your legacy.


CONTENTS
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION..................................................1
The Study..................................................7
The Conceptual Framework...................................7
Other Literature that Informs the Inquiry..................8
Critical Pedagogy......................................8
Identity and the Curriculum............................9
Relationship..........................................11
Emerging Identity.........................................18
2. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE.....................................22
Building Relationships/Caring.............................22
Identity and the Curriculum...............................34
Critical Pedagogy.........................................38
Narrative Inquiry.........................................45
3. METHODOLOGY..................................................49
Introduction..............................................49
x


Methods
51
Background.......................................................52
The Process......................................................53
The Participants.................................................56
Laura.......................................................57
Adriana.....................................................60
Shawn...................................................... 62
Dolores.....................................................63
Data Analysis....................................................65
Strengths and Potential Risks of the Study.......................66
4. THE FINDINGS........................................................69
Introduction.....................................................69
Identity at Home and School......................................70
Early Literacy Memories.....................................70
School Day Stories..........................................76
Language Reflections.............................................78
Becoming Advocates for Bilingual Education.......................84
Critical Pedagogy and Social Justice Stories.....................88
Relationships....................................................95
Personal Friendships........................................96
xi


Professional Influences
100
Family Support.......................................103
Influences on Our Families...........................105
Our Storied Lives........................................108
5. CONCLUSIONS AND FURTHER STUDY...............................114
APPENDIX
A. Sample Transcription, Uncoded...............................131
B. Sample Transcription, Coded.................................153
REFERENCES............................................................156
xii


CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION
We all have stories to tell. They help us make sense of our lives, pass along
knowledges and traditions and demand us to be reflective. By entering and
interacting with the story of another we can make meaning of the narrator's life and
our own. Narratives, in critical pedagogy, are a means to bring lived experiences
into contact with self-study and reflection. By reclaiming our voices in our
emancipatory narratives we enter into the world of critical literacy (Diaz-Greenberg,
1997, p. 12).
At 6 pm on the last Tuesday of August 2000,1 began teaching a class that would
profoundly alter my students' and my understanding of identities and the nature of
learning in order to teach. The class was entitled, The Education of the Chicano
Child. It was a required junior level college course for those students enrolled in
bilingual teacher education. The 17 students ranged in age from 20 to 50, 11 were
Latina women, 5 were White females, and one was a White male. This cohort
group of students had been together since 1995 when they began their college
education on a part-time basis, the majority of them working as bilingual
paraprofessionals in local schools during the day and enrolling in classes at night
and on weekends. All but one were first generation college students. I had served
as instructor for a few of their required Spanish courses and early general education


requirements, and was director of the Title VII program that granted them the
opportunity to work towards their bachelor's degree and teaching certification.
After almost five years of nearly weekly contact, this group had become family.
And yet, none of us was prepared for the kind of learning from intimate sharing that
began to take place that fall semester in our classroom.
According to the college catalogue, this course is designed to provide students
with an opportunity to view and understand the Chicano perspective regarding
current public educational policy and its implementation on the schooling process.
It presents learning and teaching differences in students and teachers (The
Metropolitan State College of Denver 1999/2000 Catalog, p. 251). However, the
text generally used for this course did not seem to me to be the best of reading tools
for my students because the focus was centered around the students representing
cultural and linguistic diversity in the mainstream classroom, but neglected to
recognize the diversity of their teachers and acknowledge the need for these teachers
to be aware of their own backgrounds and cultures. I decided to teach the class
through an anthology of Latino writings, The Latino Reader, a book of Chicano
poetry, Cool Salsa', and The Dictionary of Chicano Spanish. My goal was to use
reading materials that would connect with my students as people while honoring the
course's content concerning Chicano education, but none of us realized at the onset
how powerful that connection would become.
~>


The class stalled with two false assumptions, one by me and the other by the
Latina students. I assumed most were already familiar with Chicano history and/or
literature. The students did not realize that they had such a rich history and that it
was in print. Within two short weeks students were reading outside of their required
assignments, intoxicated with this new knowledge. They were writing reflection
papers with comments like, / had many emotional moments reading this particular
section. I found myself crying a lot more than I have in the previous readings. It
hits so close to home igniting both the good and bad feelings. Its just as my life
was when I was growing up in California, like stepping back in time. And from
another student, this stoiy touched me in a very personal way, and although I
hated some of the feelings it evoked, I admire John Reeky for being able to put his
story down on paper in such an artistic way. This man described El Paso to
perfection. I closed my eyes and instantly I was transported back to my aunt's
house in the middle of a wind storm. When we read I Am Joaquin, by Corky
Gonzalez, a Denver Chicano activist since the early 1960s, many students had
strong reactions. One reflected,
This week I read I am Joaquin by Rodolfo Corky" Gonzalez, I knew
nothing about him before this class. His poem said everything or
describes every emotion I have felt...the difference is that I really
dont know much about my ancestors. I have heard the name
Cuauthemoc, Maya, Chichimecas, Aztecs, but I really dont know
how I relate to them. Im only proud of what I know mostly my hard
working parents. Like Corky, I too am confused by the rules,
scorned by attitudes, suppressed by manipulation and destroyed by
modern society. I find that I must learn more so 1 can value what
3


Corky values. All the names he mentions / must know them all.
Knowing they existed is a beginning.
Significant to these reflections became my own questions. Why were students
responding so emotionally and passionately to these readings? What was it in this
classroom environment that allowed students to voice in written and oral discourse
such personal and private thoughts and memories to share with the group and me?
Why, especially living in the Southwest, didn't the Latino students have a
background in their own literature and history? How could they eventually stand up
in front of a classroom of Latino children and teach them, if they themselves didnt
know who they were? How could they possibly transmit power and the Latino
culture to their Latino students if they had not learned the history and literature of
their own people? How had they come this far in teacher education and not learned
any of this? Where was curriculum in all these questions? What were their stories
and experiences that brought them thus far and how would they help create their
futures?
One of the White students, reflecting on Richard Rodriguez's writings:
He gave such an intimate glimpse into his childhood feelings. I
ached for his painful shame at his parents broken English and his
eventual withdrawal from them as he became more Americanized...It
makes me wonder how my students feel. You think you know them,
but you should never make such an assumption. Do my new kids
from Mexico resent a blond-haired, blue-eyed teacher talking to
them in their family language? Or find it odd? Do they think like
he did...do they consider English a Public language that they
have no right to use?...I am interested to hear comments on this
piece from others in the class.
4


As I mentioned earlier, this group had been together for so long, they had
become family. One of the White women wrote in a reflection about Chicanismo,
Ive always found the Chicano mystique very fascinating and think it
would be great to share and enjoy the best of two worlds. As a
matter of fact, on a humorous note, G.R. (a Chicana in the same
class) and I have been friends for several years and her nickname
for me is chigangla, a gringa Chicanawanna-be.
During this class, I began to be reflective on my own experiences, my own
storied life, which brought me to this very class and placed me in the midst of these
students. We began, through a shared relationship of caring and friendship, to write
the song of our identity formation and cultural transformation.
I tried for all of my adolescence and childhood to be Anglo. For all
intent and purposes, I jit in with that culture on superficial levels.
But that leaves me with emptiness, because my soul is Chicana. My
family is Chicano and many of my values were shaped through that
culture as a child...but my education has separated me, in some
ways from the Chicano culture. And, where I live, I am very aware
that l do not fit in with the Latin American culture here. -Chicana
student written reflection from class
As the semester moved forward it became clear to me that changes were
occurring. The Latino students were negotiating new identities brought about by
seeing themselves reflected in the mirror of their own cultures writers and
storytellers for the first time in an academic setting. This resulted in the beginnings
of empowerment and voice among the students and seriously implicated a hidden
curriculum that up until now had prevented them from reading their world,
5


silencing them through their public education and teacher preparation. As they
began discovering themselves, I joined in the experience. We began a new story.
We read the Latino anthology in mostly chronological order. When we got to
the writings of the 60's and the Brown Power movement, a local event brought the
readings to life. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was trying to
lease a building in a neighboring town to create a holding area for undocumented
workers before bussing them back to Mexico. There was much discussion in class
for several weeks about that event. One of my students joined a Latino organization
to demonstrate and convinced other members of the class to join her in the protest
march. They discussed the situation with other community members, and their
voices were heard. The owner of the building rescinded his offer to the INS.
Students were empowering themselves and teaching me in the process what they
could do with voice. What began as a simple change of texts in the curriculum
blossomed into a different kind of learning environment than these students and I
had experienced in the past.
Giroux (1998), a contemporary of Paulo Freire, speaks to this environment:
Organize classroom relationships so that students can draw on and
confirm those dimensions of their own histories and experiences that
are deeply rooted in the surrounding community... assume
pedagogical responsibility for attempting to understand the
relationships and forces that influence students outside the
6


immediate context of the classroom...develop curricula and
pedagogical practices around those community traditions, histories,
and forms of knowledge that are often ignored within the dominant
school culture,...create the conditions where students come together
to speak, to engage in dialogue, to share their stories and to struggle
together within social relations that strengthen rather than weaken
possibilities for active citizenship and democracy (pp. 199-201).
The Study
This study is about three of those Latina women (now certified teachers) and
myself, exploring our personal and professional identities in our bilingual/bicultural
worlds, and understanding how this self knowledge is narratively composed,
embodied in a person and expressed in practice. To accomplish this, my study
looked at identity and curriculum, critical pedagogy and caring relationships
through the participants and my storied lives. We are the embodiments of lived
stories. We are people composing lives that shape and are shaped by social and
cultural narratives (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000).
The Conceptual Framework
Because I have been greatly influenced by John Dewey (1938), and I believe
that experience happens narratively, it was a logical move for me to choose
7


narrative inquiry as my conceptual framework. We all come to the stage with views
and attitudes and ways of thinking. Our stories don't start when the research does,
nor do they end when the dissertation is completed.
Ways in which this type of research varies from more traditional qualitative
methods are that the researcher becomes visible and in fact is in the midst of the
inquiry. The inquiry into experience becomes what Clandinin and Connelly (2000)
call nested. The researcher and the participants create a research relationship that
is ongoing throughout the inquiry. Therefore, it is critical that trust and integrity be
a cornerstone in the study. Crucial also is that the researcher and participants have a
long, ongoing relationship so that the researcher becomes part of the participant
group and has sensitivity to and for the numerous events, actions, and experiences
that each and all have throughout the study.
Other Literature that Informs the Inquiry
Critical Pedagogy
When The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freires (1970) translated work, was first
introduced to the United States, it was not an entirely new critique of public
education. But, according to Heaney (1995), it was readily accepted by populist
educators, who as practitioners, had long concluded that schools were part of the
problem contributing to the marginalization of minorities and the poor (p.2).
8


According to the Freirean philosophy, power is shared by a united group of people
rather than held by a few who dictate who has the freedom, the voice and the
opportunity for development of self. Thus, for the learning community, learners,
teachers, and the community work together to control the learning in their
environment. Empowerment, sometimes called liberatory education, is at the crux
of this philosophy and also at the outcome. In order for this empowerment to occur,
a transformation of the social order needs to take place. In simple terms, this means
that this group of people has to stand for an egalitarian, participatory, and
democratic social order and denounces hierarchical, authoritarian, and alienating
systems of organization (p.3 ). For schools, this means a change in curriculum,
methodology, and learning activities.
Identity and the Curriculum
We know that when students are developing a sense of self and that it is being
affirmed through their academic work, they are more likely to apply themselves to
academic effort and active participation (Cummins 1996). One student wrote that
after reading a selection by Sandra Cisneros, she went to her town library and
requested everything Cisneros had written. She wanted more. Cummins states that
the more we learn, the more we want to learn, and the more effort we are prepared
to put into that learning (p 2). He goes on to address life learning, saying that when
students' language, culture and experience are ignored or excluded in classroom
9


interactions, students are immediately starting from a disadvantage. All they have
learned about life and the world up to this point is being dismissed as irrelevant to
school learning; there are few points of connection to curriculum materials or
instruction and so students are expected to learn in an experiential vacuum (p 2).
Greene (1978 ) writes that curriculum ought to provide a series of occasions for
individuals to articulate the themes of their existence and to reflect on those themes
until they know themselves to be in the world and can name what has been up to
then obscure (pp. 18-19). Teachers and administrators often fail to realize that
much of the current curriculum has little personal or cultural meaning to Latino
students, causing them to frequently feel detached from the learning that is expected
to take place (Padilla, 1995).
When my students talked about the discovery of the New World, and made
references to learning about the pyramids of Egypt but not of Mexico, when they
had no knowledge of the Zoot Suit Riots, it showed me how assimilated they had
become through European historical perspectives. From the 39 selections in the
Latino Reader, students knew only ONE Latino author! And most had heard about
him, but had not read any of his works. This information was in keeping with the
general information being gathered in the Latino culture nation-wide about their
lack of representation in standard American public school curriculum (Banks &
Banks, 1997; Ovando & Collier, 1998).
10


In conventional education, says Palmer (1993), it does not matter whether the
students respond with their lives. The teaching does not make subjective claims on
them, it is objective. In conventional education, teacher, students, and subject are
themselves autonomous objects, not related in a community of truth (p. 43). He
asks,
What is the nature of the knower? What is the nature of the known?
And what is the nature of the relation between the two?...the shape
of our knowledge becomes the shape of our living; the relation of the
knower to the known becomes the relation of the living self to the
larger world (p. 21).
Culture and language are crucial to ethnic identity. So is speech. Identity can
create voice. Unfortunately too many teacher education programs today still
maintain an attitude and structure that ignore Latino participants perspectives. If
Latino pre-service teachers never have an opportunity to reflect on who they are and
value their life experiences, they will probably not think to do that in their own
classrooms. What are the real lessons being taught and learned? As Palmer (1993)
says, the relationships of the academic community form the hearts and minds of
students, shaping their sense of self and their relations to the world (p. 20).
Relationship
In her book. Composing a Life, author Mary Catherine Bateson (1990) states:
11


The need to sustain human growth should be a matter of concern for
the entire society...For all of us, continuing development depends on
nurture and guidance...just as it depends on seeing others ahead on
the road with whom it is possible to identify. A special effort is
needed when doubts have been deeply planted during the years of
growing up or when some fact of difference raises barriers or
undermines those identifications, but all of us are at risk, not only
through childhood but through all the unfolding experiences of life
that present new problems and require new learning. Education,
whether for success or failure, is never finished. Building and
sustaining the setting in which individuals can grow and unfold, not
kept in their place but empowered to become all they can be, is not
only the task of parents and teachers, but the basis of management
and political leadershipand simple friendship (pp. 55-56).
I agree with her and with what Palmer (1993) has to say about teaching, learning
and friendship. He says that practicing obedience to truth in the classroom, and
practicing responsive listening between teacher, students, and subject is not a matter
of technique but rather of a teacher who has a living relationship with the subject,
who invites students into that relationship as full partners...The metaphor of
friendship helps identify some demands of this sort of teaching.
12


The teacher, who knows the subject well, must introduce it to students in the
way one would introduce a friend. The students must know why the teacher values
the subject, how the subject has transformed the teachers life. By the same token,
the teacher must value the students as potential friends, be vulnerable to the ways
students may transform the teachers relationship with the subject as well as be
transformed (pp. 103-104).
Giroux (1998) speaks to this environment of critical pedagogy, identity and
curriculum and relationship:
Organize classroom relationships so that students can draw on and
confirm those dimensions of their own histories and experiences that
are deeply rooted in the surrounding community... assume
pedagogical responsibility for attempting to understand the
relationships and forces that influence students outside the
immediate context of the classroom...develop curricula and
pedagogical practices around those community traditions, histories,
and forms of knowledge that are often ignored within the dominant
school culture, ...create the conditions where students come together
to speak, to engage in dialogue, to share their stories and to struggle
together within social relations that strengthen rather than weaken
possibilities for active citizenshipjand democracy], (pp. 199-201).
13


Relationships not only exist between people, but between concepts. This class
created a relationship between knowledge and power, between language and culture,
between student and teacher and between White, Chicano, Latino, and immigrant
Hispanic. An understanding evolved that connected cultural identity and voice to
curriculum reform.
Critical pedagogy is about reclaiming voiceeverybodys voice. The basic
premise is to create the space where both the underprivileged and the privileged
have a safe space to:
Collectively examine and question their distinct positions and
experiences in educational and social institutions, to ask how they
have come to be who they are and how they have come to occupy
their positions within the social order. By questioning, reading and
talking against the grain, it is hoped that students will become the
authors of their own history. As they come to understand what this
means, they are liberated to transform those social and educational
inequities and injustices they are able to name and make problematic
(Frederickson, 1997, p.8).
When I set out to teach this course, I had no idea that it would be about voice.
As the classroom began to provide space for this community of learners to speak,
these voices came in contact with others' voices in that same community, the
14


voices of texts, and the voices of others inside and outside the community (Poplin,
1993).
My own schooling and teaching experience lead me to believe that this type of
dialogue is rare in most classrooms. Teachers have been traditionally trained to
lecture and understand themselves to be the holders of the knowledge. Students
have become so accustomed to banking their learning from teachers, that they are
often hesitant or fearful to raise their voices.
I was interested in studying the experiences of 3 of my former undergraduate
Latina students who had successfully completed their bachelors degrees and
received teacher certification. Within a month after graduation they enrolled in a
Master's degree program in education. Of the 24 students who began in 1995, and
the 10 who were the first graduates, only these 3 students made the decision to
continue their formal education. At the same time these students had been working
at the undergraduate and graduate level, I too, had been working on my doctorate.
We are all female non-traditional college students. Three of us are first generation.
We have strong ethnic heritages and professionally are involved in the very political
field of bilingual education. We have been together since January 1996 and have
become personal and professional friends. Unfortunately, the intense delivery of
their undergraduate program while they were also working in schools had prevented
much in-depth sharing outside the classroom, although we now meet once a month
for dinner to share our current every day stories.
15


Our professional storied lives are built upon the past and present stories of our
personal lives. The temporal element in narrative inquiry allows me to write my
story along with theirs, because telling our remembered stories alongside our
present day stories will allow us to imaginatively construct an identity for the future.
I use many of the methods of narrative inquiry field text collection, including
individual open-ended interviews and discussion groups including all four of us.
Quite fortunately, the class I mentioned earlier in this Introduction was
videotaped for multiple site delivery. All the participants in the class signed a
permission paper to allow the videos to be unconditionally viewed for educational
purposes. They also allowed me to keep copies of their reflection papers from that
class. These provided valuable field texts ready to reinterpret from our shared past
experience in the Fall of 2000.
Bruner (1961) long ago stated that when one discovers knowledge, a unique and
special relationship is formed between that knowledge and its possessor.
Montecinos (1995) echos that belief.
Teachers who understand the formation of students identities are
teachers who also understand the formation of their own
identities...teachers, including ethnic minority teachers, must learn
to examine the consequences that those prevailing social practices
have jointly had in the creation of their own lives and the lives of
their students. Multicultural teacher education curriculum, thus,
16


needs to help teachers uncover how their lives and the lives of their
students intertwine (p. 297).
To teach this way outwardly we must first leant from within. For my students to
become successful teachers of ALL children, they must learn who they are, and
from whence they came. They need early and ongoing opportunities in a safe and
caring environment to explore their histories and literatures so long denied them.
They need time to reflect and dialogue within their own communities and without.
As an educator and director in charge of teacher education, I am compelled to work
towards educational and curricular reform so that the kind of class and learning that
occurred by accident, is in fact an integral and deliberate part of their teacher
education program, and the one I continue to direct.
The unexamined contextual issues which shape the conditions of assimilation
under which teachers of color are educated and expected to survive professionally
(Darder, 1995) are issues that need to be raised. The cultural perspectives held by
Latino educators clearly impacts upon the manner in which they teach (p. 336).
As my students read and reflected on the literature, they often said things like, /
want to learn all of the customs / never learned regarding my cultural ethnicity and
to live as positive a Chicana, as my American roots will permit me. And, Exposing
himself [Corky Gonzalez] to the vulnerability of ones race makes me realize that /
am not alone when l try to "belong so that my life is easier in this country. But
how can I ever truly belong into a society that doesn t appreciate who I am, a
17


society that is dominated by men and women whose skin is lighter than mine and
whose language is clear and acceptable? Then when I feel rejected, I come back to
my roots and feel comfortable, and speak Spanish, and eat ethnic meals, and act
Mexican.
Another student wrote. This weeks readings brought emotions that were hidden
deep in my soul and that / did not know I could ever evoke again.
Emerging Identity
Who is to say that robbing a people of its language is less violent than war?
~ Ray Gwyn Smith, Moorland is Cold Country
Speech plays an important part in identity. The Latina students began using
Spanish interspersed with their English and eventually Chicana speech. We had
wonderful sessions, using the Dictionary of Chicano Spanish to discuss various
definitions. The White members of the class were just as interested because in their
schools, they were hearing this non-standard Spanish used with many of the
children, and their Spanish dictionaries did not contain these words. When we read
Gloria Anzaldua's excerpt from Borderlands/La froutera: The New Mestiza,
(Augenmbraum & Olmos, 1997), students connected immediately to her words.
For people who are neither Spanish nor live in a country in which
Spanish is the first language; for a people who live in a country in
which English is the reigning tongue but who are not Anglo; for a
18


people who cannot entirely identify with either standard (formal,
Castilian) Spanish nor standard English, what recourse is left to
them but to create their own language? A language which they can
connect their identity to, one capable of communicating the realities
and values true to themselvesa language with terms that are
neither espaiiol ni ingles, but both. We speak a patois, a forked
tongue, a variation of two languages (p. 446).
Words like vato, cholo, pachuco, chale, simon and que gacho were tossed out
and there was much laughter at examples of the Tex-Mex Spanish forms of parkiar
for park, watchar for watch, and cookiar for cook. Students were seeing all of these
words in print, legitimized for the first time in their academic world. Padilla (1995)
states that there is a great need to increase Latino access to teaching, but that the
access problems are huge. Students do not see or hear themselves in most public
school settings.
Learners' language experiences should become the curriculum as they develop
technical linguistic skills and a critical view of their lives in order to interrogate the
origins of their and others' thought, values, and actions (Shannon, 1998, p. 194).
These pre-service teachers were strangers in their own land.
Culture and language are crucial to ethnic identity. Identity can create voice.
Unfortunately too many teacher education programs today still maintain an attitude
and structure that ignore Latino participants' perspectives. If Latino pre-service
19


teachers never have an opportunity to reflect on who they are and value their life
experiences, they will probably not think to do that in their own classrooms. What
are the real lessons being taught and learned? As Palmer (1993) says, the
relationships of the academic community form the hearts and minds of students,
shaping their sense of self and their relations to the world (p.20).
As a result of this particular course, students chose topics for their final product
that reflected new thinking and knowledge. Some of those titles were:
Understanding People; Ten Things About Me; Regional and Cultural Differences in
the Southwest; Reflecting About Cultural Diversity Through Literature; Caesar
Chavez; Biographies of Successful Chicanos in the U.S.; Chicano Art; and Valuing
Differences.
Final written comments on the class included:
Wow! This book is just awesome. {The Latino Reader}. I am finding
myself repeating the same phrase over and over, but I am enjoying
this book so much!
Thank you for sharing this wonderfid book with us. If I ever teach a
Spanish class this is the first thing Ill have my students doread the
New Mestizo.
These reading selections were just incredible! Some stories made
me cry, others made me meditate about my identity and others just
simply made me laugh; it is a great variety of literatures. I love it!
Thank you for all you have done for me...I wanted to take this
opportunity to tell you how...the program you have created and
managed have changed and continues to change my life...If it wasnt
for this program...I would not be the person I am today...I don't
20


think you realize the impact you have had on me through your
teaching and your modeling...
As they continue their education and position themselves as classroom teachers,
I am confident that my students will prepare their students in a way that fosters
critical pedagogy and emancipatory narrative, that provides a climate for power,
culture and voice within their classrooms and beyond. The notion of student voice
is fundamental to educational democracy and the call of stories lived and told brings
meaning, social significance and purpose to our lives.
21


CHAPTER 2
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
Building Relationships/Caring
Building relationships is never easy. That is true also for creating a literature
review on the subject. For relationship is a complex word with many definitions
and interpretations connected to it.
In this review section I will focus on my understanding of this concept as it
relates to my dissertation study. I have chosen authors who embrace this same
stance in their work using caring, listening, dialogue, storytelling, narrative, courage
and love to describe the richness and quality of relationships.
We know that students respond very positively when they believe that their
teachers care about them and relate to them as people beyond their relationship to
them as students (Cummins, 1996; Poplin &Weeres, 1992). Their research indicates
that teachers also respond best when they are connected to their students and are
able to help them move beyond school into life success.
Nel Noddings (1984) researches and writes on the cared-for and the one-caring.
She describes the relationship between teacher and student as one where the gift that
a teacher brings to the student is to receive him and work the content of the class
with him. Through this commitment, the student is set free to pursue his legitimate


projects (p. 177). She goes on to say that the student also makes his contribution to
the caring. If the student responds to the caring, the teacher receives what he or she
needs to continue caring.
So often in schools, students from a subordinate culture are marginalized and
there is no dialogue of caring in the classroom. Open for discussion must be topics
of interest and importance to the students. And that means that listening must occur
as well. Noddings states, The purpose of dialogue is to come into contact with
ideas and to understand, to meet the other and to care (p. 186). Valenzuela (1999)
discusses the area of caring around minority students. He says that caring has to
include the recognition and discussion of issues that concern them, how they see
themselves in society. Teachers must validate these students language and culture
that they bring to the classroom. Slim and Thompson (1995) argue that the role of
listener comes with certain obligations. A reciprocal exchange is required in which
w'hat is heard is both given back and carried forward (p. 2).
When the field of nursing took on reforming their own curriculum, Jean Watson,
Dean and Professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Colorado Health
Sciences Center turned to works of Paulo Freire and Nel Noddings. In her co-
authored book, Toward a Caring Curriculum (Bevis & Watson, 1989), Watson
speaks about caring as a human process, not a product or commodity to be bought
and sold as human capital, or a substance to be manipulated and controlled by an
oppressive system of education or practice (p. 52).
23


The University Health Sciences Center thought so much about caring
relationships and patient health that they created a course called, Caring
Leadership (Neil, 1998) where they related elements of the philosophy and science
of human caring to leadership and workplace functioning. Nursing, like teaching,
involves the interaction or relationship between nurse and patient or teacher and
student in both outer and inner lives. Parker Palmer (1998), noted for his work on
issues in education, community, spirituality and social change says this, If we want
to support each others inner lives, we must remember a simple truth: the human
soul does not want to be fixed, it wants simply to be seen and heard (p. 151).
The paraprofessionals, as students in our program, and I, as instructor with them,
serve as immediate and excellent examples of this philosophy. The caring
relationship that we have together, as evidenced in this study, allows for a dialogue,
which includes sharing and listening, space for creating and respecting voice, for
courage and love. How did we arrive at such a place, one might ask. The answer is
not simple, one-sided or prescriptive. It was a process that happened over time and
in this way.
We began by reading the stories of others, and as we connected our lived
experiences, slowly we began to tell our own. bell hooks (1994) tells us that what
enabled her to thrive in her schooling was that her teachers knew all about the
students, their lives and their families. She remembers and reflects on the caring
relationships between student and teacher that carried her through the racist culture
24


she grew up in. To teach in a manner that respects and cares for the souls of our
students is essential if we are to provide the necessary conditions where learning can
most deeply and intimately begin (p. 13).
The caring and the acceptance of each other, by each other in the classroom
eventually fostered a sense of belonging where it was safe to take risks and become
vulnerable in community. In her book, Composing a Life (1990), Mary Catherine
Bateson talks about sustaining human growth. She says that continued development
depends on nurture and guidance and seeing others ahead on the road with whom it
is possible to identify (p. 55).
A special effort is needed when doubts have been deeply implanted
during the years of growing up or when some fact of difference
raises barriers or undermines those identifications, but all of us are at
risk, not only through childhood, but through all the unfolding
experiences of life that present new problems and require new
learning. Education, whether for success or failure, is never
finished. Building and sustaining the settings in which individuals
can grow and unfold, not kept in their place but empowered to
become all they can be, is not only the task of parents and teachers,
but the basis of management and political leadershipand simple
friendship (pp. 55-56).
25


She goes on to say that encountering new cultures can lead to openness, but only
if you delete assumptions of superiority, not seeing new worlds to conquer, but
new worlds to respect (p. 67).
Kathleen Norris (1993) speaks of her move from New York to North Dakota.
As she discovers and writes about this new land she finds herself in, she is very
aware that good storytelling is shared by rural whites and Indians alike. But Native
Americans have learned through harsh necessity that people who survive
encroachment by another culture need story to survive (p. 6).
Storytelling takes time and so does building a relationship. Many of these
authors, (Noddings, 1984; Palmer, 1998; Ritchie and Wilson, 2000; Witherell and
Noddings, 1991), talk about the time it takes to build an environment in which it is
safe for positive relationships to develop. Storytelling involves a teller and a
receiver and as such requires a mutual relationship. Madeline Grumet (1991) says,
A story requires giving oneself away (p. 70). That act takes courage. Freire
(1976) says that teaching is an act of courage and as such it is an act of love.
Robert Pianta (1999) has studied relationships between children and parents and
children and teachers, especially focusing on those children deemed at risk. He
finds that the more positive a relationship that exists between parent and child,
followed by the teacher and child, the more likely that child will continue on what
he calls pathways to a successful school experience. He too, emphasizes that the
more time teacher and student have together, the better the chances will be for a
26


meaningful relationship to develop and positively affect the students pathway
through formal schooling.
Delpit (1995) did interviews with teachers of color about their experiences in
teacher preparation. Many of them cited less than positive experiences in their
programs. Responses were many and common that their university experiences in
the classroom did not welcome their stories, their values or their reasons for entering
the profession. Even in socially progressive classes, her study goes on to say that
the stereotypes created in them a feeling of object and not individual.
Mary Catherine Bateson's recent book, Full Circles, Overlapping Lives, (2000)
takes place at a college in Georgia where she instructs a group of multi generational
women. An activity that she used one day in the classroom was intended to bring
this new group together in a sense of community. She writes,
We had also created a circle, not just by sitting around a table but by
watching one another and attending with respect, sharing something
passed from hand to hand. We had each become a part of something
larger than ourselves, unknown and unpredictable...'Let the circle be
unbroken" in the words of the spiritual, so that no one is lost or
excluded (pp. 45-46).
In another book, in another time, Bateson (1994) uses music and dance to create
a metaphor about confusion of the rules in a wonderfully written chapter called
Joining In.
27


Day after day, we are forced to play without knowing the rules in
situations where small mistakes cannot be laughed off or used for
further learning. One effect is to discourage participation. Another
is to undermine integrity, which cannot easily flow from intention to
performance (pp. 148-149).
We are always learning through participation...if we are allowed to participate.
And participation always precedes learning.
Videotapes of my classes with the paraprofessionals in our program testify to the
social time of participation before we ever get on with the lesson. It is a time of
coming together, voicing our daily lives, our concerns, and our celebrations. And I
am a part of that dialogue. When we first were getting to know one another, I took
the part of modeling and speaking informally so that my students would know I was
putting myself out there for them and demonstrated the risk-taking. Parker Palmer
(1998) says that we teach who we are. I wanted my students to know who I was as
a person. They eventually felt safe to share with me who they were, and together
we built a relationship of trust and love. Parker Palmer (1998) asks what does it
mean to listen to a voice before it is spoken? He answers that it means to enter
empathetically into the student's world so that he or she perceives you as someone
who has the promise of being able to hear another person's truth (p. 46).
Storytelling was an important way for me to share my life with my students.
University classes are not particularly known for their acceptance of personal
28


narrative or conversation. We teach about teaching says Florio-Ruane (2001), the
foundations of education and its practices. When we do address culture, it is often
in stereotypical ways. Students become observers rather than participants. Florio-
Ruane decided to form a book club with her students that eventually turned into a
culture and literature class, hoping to use autobiographies and stories as ways to
promote narrative and conversation about culture.
My experience with my own students somewhat mirrors that experience. Not
wanting to use the standard text for a particular education course, I chose an
anthology of Latino literature. It was through the reading and discussing of those
stories that our own remembrances surfaced and were voiced in authentic ways.
The cohort group of students was primarily Latino (Chicano and immigrant), but
there were several White students as well. Through our shared interpretations of the
stories and our lives, we were able to see commonalities in the lived experiences of
each of us, and to better understand and appreciate the differences. For the White
students it was important to see that all paraprofessionals of color did not have the
same story. For the Latinos, they learned to trust their White counterparts because
they saw and heard genuine interest and caring in what they (the Latinos) brought to
the class.
Kessler's book, The Soul of Education, (2000) deals with school age children.
However, much in the book applies to all of us. She says that when a story comes
from the heart, students are eager to listen. They hear more similarities than they
29


expected and are calm when they discover how easy it is to enter the circle and be
heard (p. 10).
Much of the literature that exists in the field of relationship, culture and identity
is designed to bring an awareness, tolerance, and understanding to those mainstream
teachers who will be encountering diversity within their classrooms. The move is
on to provide educational opportunities for these teachers to study in a more
multicultural context. Noel (2000) writes, The important point here is how the
teacher will treat students who have characteristics that are different from their
own (pp. 113-114).
What appears to be missing from the literature is the research on how to prepare
pre-service teachers of color for their role in this 21st century classroom. Little, if
any time is built into the educational path for them to reflect on their own cultures
and their identities within that framework. While it is important for them to have
access to the academic realities of their cultures in sociopolitical, historical and
economic arenas, such as we find in ethnic studies classes, it is important for them
to feel in all classes that they have a voice and a stake in each and every class they
take. Unfortunately, ethnic studies classes are mostly taken as electives when
scheduling permits, and very often the lived experiences of these students is ignored
as class resource in favor of the more generalized text on multiculturalism that is
used in education courses.
30


Palmer (1998) discusses this very point. He says students don't often
understand the meaning of their own stories. How could they, when education so
seldom treats their lives as sources of knowledge? (p. 81). He goes on to state that
at a center of a community circle there is always a subject, in contrast with an object
at the top of the objectivist ladder. This distinction, he says, is crucial to knowing,
teaching, and learning: a subject is available for relationship; an object is not (p.
102).
In the summer of 2001 I attended a weeklong conference entitled, The Heart of
A Teacher. It was attended by over 200 educators from all over the United States
and a few from Europe. The conference, then in its 11th year, is an annual gathering
for those higher education instructors who support Teaching for a Change. It is a
multidisciplinary group who boast that the conference is not discipline specific, but
about the very essence of what it means to teach. Parker Palmer's work is at the
core of these meetings. Storytelling and small group work are frequent tools in the
sessions. The sessions focus on building community by storytelling, fostering
respect, creating dialogue, building trust and caring. Our notebooks contained
quotes by Palmer and Freire. The bookmark that we received had the words of
Johnetta Cole, former president of Spelman College, printed on it:
Not to know is bad.
Not to want to know
is worse.
31


Not to hope
Is unthinkable.
Not to care is
Unforgivable.
Throughout the conference, and throughout the research for the literature
review, the same names keep surfacing. In references, in bibliographies, in
citations, in readings, in people's conversations about caring and relationships, I too,
am weaving a web of community with these writers and researchers.
Building relationships is not just about strategies in the classroom. It is about
creating authentic, genuine interactions between people that are based on caring,
allowing voice, participating in dialogue, and telling our stories with courage and
love. It is about listening so that the one caring and the one cared for know beyond
a doubt that they are part of this life circle. The authors referred to in this review in
one way or another all respond to these themes.
The notion of a caring relationship is not without criticism however. Some
theorists (Edmondson & Nkomo, 1998) for example, state that this kind of situated
learning environment of care leaves women vulnerable to a competitive world and
ill equipped to protect themselves. In a study of Black womens development they
believe that an armoring process provided a buffer against racism (Hayes and
Flannery, 2000).
32


As I mentioned earlier, there is a plethora of literature to suggest ways of
knowing and being in the classroom if you are a White mainstream teacher working
in a diverse setting. Books such as We Cant Teach What We Dont Know: White
Teachers, Multiracial Schools (Howard, 1999) offer insights into theory and
practice implicated in the title.
What has received little attention, other than to spotlight the problem, is how
teachers of color come into this circle and negotiate their identities amidst biased
curriculum, superficial acceptance, and stereotyping by students and teachers alike.
I know, based on my observations and interviews with the cohort group with whom
I work, that, indeed, we can rise above the obstacles evident and form these caring,
lasting relationships among a diverse group of pre-service teachers who hopefully
will carry these attributes and attitudes on into their own classrooms. In the words
of one of the paraprofessionals in the group, You have helped me to discover my
self-worth and the pride I never developed during my lifes journey to this point. I
will try to do the same for my students.
Building a caring, trusting relationship takes time. Unfortunately, the current
emphasis on back to basics, standardized curriculum, national standards and
objective evaluations for students and schools insists on claiming that time which
might otherwise be spent on developing a commitment to a meaningful, caring
relationship between student and teacher. Additionally, as we shall see, identity,
curriculum and critical pedagogy connect in very concrete ways to our discussion of
33


building relationships. If we are insecure about our own identities, we wind up
creating settings that deprive others of their identities (Palmer, 2000, p. 86), and if
our classrooms continue to be places where banking or passive internalization of
curriculum content takes place (Goodlad, 1984: Ramirez, 1992), then we have not
liberated our students to think critically and take risks in a nurturing environment.
Full participation in society demands that students, all students, have a voice in the
larger society and the world around them. And their world around them -their
reality, so to speak- consists of social contexts rooted in language and culture
(Cross, 1999, p. 17).
Identity and the Curriculum
In order to situate identity in my study, I have chosen Josselsons (1987)
definition. Identity is the interface between the individual and the world, defining
as it does what the individual will stand for and be recognized as (p. 8).
While there is little research directed towards the effects of ethnicity on gender
identity development, we do know that women with multiple cultural identities must
learn how to deal with expectations that are sometimes conflicting (Hayes and
Flannery, 2000). These authors report that
Womens identities and self-esteem as learners are clearly influenced
by their experiences in many different social settings...It may be
important for educators to help all women become more aware of the
34


learning they accomplish outside formal educational settings, to
validate this learning and connect it to classroom learning
experiences (pp. 76-77).
Mary Russo Demetrick (2002, p.128-129) writes:
...I study Italian
To understand who I am
In the world of spongy
White American bread
Turkey and mayonnaise...
I study Italian
To understand
To come home
To bind with past
To create a future
Where my heritage
Will not be lost
To my children
To keep alive
All that has gone before
I study Italian.
Chow (2000) asks,
How do we consider the gaps as well as the linkages between the
subject matters that we research and teach on the one hand, and the
life experiences of those from whom we derive our knowledge and
understanding on the other (whether they are research subjects or
students as learners)? (p. 203).
35


As my Latina students discovered themselves in the readings from The Latino
Reader (Augenbraum and Fernandez Olmos, 1997), I, too, became immersed in
Dont Tell MamaV. Italian American Writing (Barreca, 2002) and identified with
many writers and stories alike. In fact, both books are over 500 pages and contain
more than 100 authors, yet for our respective cultural literary heritages, each of us
was able to identity only one author and we had not ever read one of his/her works.
Florio-Ruane (2001) says:
This material is fodder for literary representations of cultural
identity. It dominates coming-of age narratives as well as immigrant
stories of the disorienting and reorienting of self that accompanies
movement from one place to another. Ironically, however, this is
precisely the material framed out of view in academic descriptions of
culture (p. 42).
Under the Clinton Administration, the Department of Education published A
Call to Action for American Education in the 21s' Century (1997). In the section
under Talented Teachers in Every Classroom, the charge is made to reinvent
teacher preparation for beginning teachers and improve professional development
for more experienced teachers so they get the training they need to help students
master the basics and reach high standards in the core academic areas (p. 13). The
August 2000 brief from the Association for Supervision and Curriculum
Development (Tell, 2002), references the Department of Education (1998),
36


recommendation that teacher education programs focus on recruiting students from
diverse backgrounds, emphasize content knowledge and pedagogy, create links
between campuses and schools, incorporate assessments of future teachers, and
prepare new teachers for multicultural environments (p.6). In an article on the
need for more ethnic teachers, Jorgenson (2000) cites that more than 600,000
minority teachers need to be teaching by 2010 to keep up with the minority student
population. And, Trent (1990) calls for more attention to race and ethnicity in
teacher education programs. Yet, for all the rhetoric about the need, the recruitment
and training, there is very little attention given to how culturally and/or
linguistically diverse pre-service teachers learn who they are, given the confines of
the mainstream curriculum they have learned and will soon be required to teach.
There is a disconnect between the call for diversity in the teacher workforce and the
process by which that diversity is understood and shared in the classroom.
Martinez (1998) asks,
where are the organic intellectualsthose, whose political
intelligence grows out of their life experience rather than being
imposed by formal education? They are needed to provide analysis
and help to define our vision along with the strategy and tactics for
achieving it. Organic individuals are hard to find today, and again
the ideological climate of our era discourages their emergence (p.
203).
37


Pre-service and practicing teachers as well as higher education professionals do
have a vision for their minority students, but it is not one that is shaped by an
informed and intimate knowledge of the students and their circumstances (Trent,
1990, p. 367). While this is true, we are still missing the important, vital connection
between knowing our students and knowing ourselves shaped by that same
informed and intimate knowledge. It hardly makes sense to recruit diverse teachers
and then require them to funnel through mainstream teacher preparation and expect
that they will do anything differently than what already exists traditionally in our
education system. We need to transform our teaching and learning, validating
identity, experience, story and culture. Through literature, dialogue and narrative
there is hope to bring a more inclusive forum to teacher education, and an
opportunity to bring voices not often heard, into the profession and the classroom.
Critical Pedagogy
For over 30 years many education theorists and practitioners have sought ways
to create voice for the oppressed and marginalized. Using terms and phrases such
as: education for freedom; dialogue rather than polemics; critical consciousness;
learning with action; empowerment and transformation, critical theorists, working
for social change, have looked at schools as institutions of social control that mirror
mainstream dominant society. Building on the philosophy and work of a Brazilian
educator, Paulo Freire, (1970, 1976), educators such as Apple (1986), Darder
38


(1991), Giroux (1997), Kozol (1991), and McLaren (1994), have developed critical
pedagogy as a process to challenge the dominant and, according to them, oppressive
ideologies fostered in our public schools. This section introduces the Freirean
pedagogy to the reader, provides concepts and terms used within this pedagogy and
critiques critical pedagogy as a theory and a practice in our classrooms and in our
schools.
Freire developed his theoretical framework in Brazil and Chile, where he
worked on literacy campaigns amidst revolutions that were taking place in those
countries. The very nature of the liberation of oppressed peoples gave rise to an
environment where the marginalized had for the first time an opportunity to think
for themselves, speak out, and act on the behalf of social changea true
transformation. Heaney (1995) tells us that this was not an easy pedagogy to
transfer to the United States. While some readily adopted several of Freires
methods, the United States, as a whole, was not particularly interested nor did it
have a demanding political situation in which to encourage this theory.
Banking Education is probably the most famous and popular of Freires
importations. Based on his work in the Third World, Freire rejected the idea of
depositing knowledge like money into the vault, or mind, of the learner. Instead, he
incorporated the day-to-day life experience of the learner, the dialogue and peer
interaction which he called culture circles and the contribution of what the people
(those marginalized) already knew. This strategy or methodology was readily
39


embraced by progressives in the United States working in urban, ghetto schools and
with adult learners.
The reality is, however, that to incorporate a truly Freirean perspective, it
necessitates the exposure of the school. It demonstrates that schools, curriculum,
methodology and content are not neutral, but in fact political, perpetuating the
maintenance of the current political and economic system for the benefit of a few.
Heaney (1995) concludes that true liberatory education according to history is only
temporarily sustainable, as we witnessed for example in Nicaragua or in Guinea
Bissau. The potential for transformation during those times became real because the
revolutionary political arm supported those changes.
In order to raise critical consciousness and have a shared power in the
transformation of the social order, Heaney (1995) shares Freire's three stages in the
progression. In the first stage, people are awakened to a larger world, increasing
their capacity to enter into a dialogue, asking questions and responding to
suggestions around a particular problem. The second stage is characterized by, but
never fully conquered by, those who consider learning as a life-long process, a kind
of naivete towards the problem at hand, an underestimation of the common man,
and most importantly, a tendency towards polemics rather than dialogue. The last
stage reverses the polemics and dialogue to embrace the practice of dialogue and
reject the polemics. It is a collective arrival at an understanding of a process to
delve into the problem, avoiding preconceptions, discovering one's own belief and
40


challenging it when necessary. It requires openness and a willingness to change,
and then to act on that change. Because the theory links learning with action,
change and transformation, it is very political. It challenges the status quo and calls
for a new kind of future, a future in which all humans are liberated through learning
and social action.
Ellsworth (1989) openly rejects critical pedagogy, not on the grounds of its
theory to empower the marginalized and disenfranchised, but on the impossibility of
implementing such a task. She believes that all the lofty terms related to critical
pedagogy actually perpetuate relations of domination. In 1988 she facilitated a
course on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus called Media and Anti-
Racist Pedagogies, after several racial incidents at the school and in the
community. Ellsworth states,
...when participants in our class attempted to put into practice
prescriptions offered in the literature concerning empowerment,
student voice, and dialogue, we produced results that were not only
unhelpful, but actually exacerbated the very conditions we were
trying to work against, including Eurocentrism, racism, sexism,
classism, and banking education (p. 298).
She details her struggle to come to grips with crucial issues of classroom
practice that critical pedagogy cannot or will not address (p.303). One of her
difficulties was in her position as instructor. Even though she used the term
41


facilitator, she admits that a) she had an agenda for the course and b) her voice
represented an understanding that would always be constrained by her white skin
and middle-class privilege. She attacks the notion of dialogue as a means for
constructing these critical learning conditions, stating that the asymmetrical
positions of difference and privilege between students, and students and teacher
made dialogue both impossible and undesirable (p.315).
When Garrison and Kimball (1993) pick up the discussion, they support
Burbules and Rice (1991) in statements that critique and reject most of Ellsworths
claims. They insist that dialogue is an integral if not crucial element to create
understandings across difference. What they discover, however, in their own
critique of Ellsworth and in their reading of Burbules and Rice are three different
barriers to dialoguing across difference. Their three notions revolve around the
concept of listening. Their discussion centers on how the conduit metaphor' and
the conflict model' of discourse, along with the notion of ventriloquation affect
dialogue by minimizing or interfering with listening (p.2).
The conduit metaphor minors the relations of power between the (active)
speaker and the (passive) listener. The authors claim that, especially in Western
culture, the position that individuals have the right to speak and be heard actually
devalues the listener and that devaluation is felt more by the oppressed than the
oppressors. The conflict model is illustrated by the U.S. system of justice. Using the
example of courts, Ganison and Kimball point out that with juries, judges,
42


prosecuting and defending lawyers, it is the most forceful and powerful argument
that wins, and that power forces agreement on the listener (p. 3).
Finally, they argue that even if we could acknowledge dialogical relationships,
we have to consider whose words we are using. Until the oppressed have their
own vocabularies and are able to appropriate and ventriloquate the words of the
powerful for their own purposes, they will always be at a dialogical disadvantage
(p. 3).
Calling Ellsworth on her dismissal of dialogue by her students outside of the
classroom. Garrison and Kimball validate the importance of these groups and posit
that by allowing and encouraging students to get together, in or out of the
classroom, we, as teachers, encourage dialogue to take place. They suggest several
ways educators can foster this activity. However, they do caution that there are no
guarantees of the safety of this dialogue, whether in or out of the classroom.
Ellsworth's concerns stemmed not only from the fact that her students were
dialoging outside and not inside the classroom, but that she feared a kind of
separatism would take place, causing domination by one group over the other.
It was not necessary for Ellsworth to be overly concerned about her whiteness
and middle-class position. She was invited to bring herself with all her privileges to
the table, as long as she participated in the dialogue to transform social inequities
and injustices. Her awareness of the problem on her campus, her reflections on
what and how to do something about it, her willingness to write a new curriculum
43


and provide a safe space for her students to engage in awareness, reflection and
action towards transformation, all speak to her engagement in the beginnings of a
critical project.
While it is true that no one can force someone to listen, Garrison and Kimball
suggest that there is a moral reason why we should want to listen. They point out
that in listening to different voices we come to know ourselves as different in
dialogical relations and in doing so we create ourselves and we create the other
(p.7).
Freire never intended his theory or pedagogy be adopted word for word. His
work was done in times and places that most of us will never experience. What he
has left for us, rather, is a blueprint of a process. For the critical educator,
knowledge is always becoming, and always being recreated. It is analyzed and
valued on whether it is oppressive and exploitative or empowering and
transformative (McLaren, 1994, pp. 182-183).
As critical educators we cannot promote social action outside of the classroom if
we do not attempt to transform education inside the classroom. Ellsworth
attempted, I think, successfully, to do this. Although she was not satisfied with the
results, her article ends with much reflection on what she plans for the next
semester, identifies two politically social activities her students created and acted
upon, and her own confession that she is mediated by history, culture, and situated
in her own personal and social meaning. According to Freires stages of
44


progression and the understanding that critical educators are always becoming, I
would conclude that Elizabeth Ellsworth is a critical practitioner, even though she
rejects the pedagogy by name. Indeed, critical pedagogy is theoretically visionary,
but in practice, it is the hope for a better humanity and there are those of us who
believe it is not the impossible dream.
Paraphrasing Freire, Antonia Darder (1998, p. 33) explains that teachers,
through critical pedagogy, come to understand that they can liberate no one, but that
they are in a strategic position to invite students to liberate themselves, as they learn
to read their world and transform their present realities.
Narrative Inquiry
In recent years qualitative research has become increasingly popular and
accepted in the social sciences and in applied fields such as education and nursing
(Marshall & Rossman, 1999 ). Within this body of research there are many genres.
Narrative Inquiry is one that views life holistically, in which the researcher and
participants explore the construction of their lives through the narration of their
stories.
Well-known narrative inquiry researchers, Jean Clandinin and Michael
Connelly, who for over twenty years have been publishing books and articles in this
field, have grounded their theory in Dewey, saying,
45


The social sciences are concerned with humans and their relations
with themselves and their environment. As such, the social sciences
are founded on the study of experience. Experience is therefore the
starting point and the key term for all social science inquiry
(Clandinin & Connelly, 2000, p. xxiii).
One of the criticisms of narrative inquiry is that it focuses on the individual
rather than on the social context. But, it is often the case that the participants in
narrative inquiry are those whose voice we normally dont hear. Too often the
personal, professional, and public neglect of teachers' stories has led both teachers
and researchers to conclude that such stories are unimportant and not worthy of
telling or hearing (Schultz, Schroeder & Brody 1997, p. 474).
Stories provide us with symbolic conversational texts, which represent
sociocultural membership (Rex, et al., 2002). They tie our social selves to a larger
cultural narrative, and allow the reader a place in which to imagine their own uses
and application. The telling of our stories past, shared in the present, implicate the
future. Thus, narrative inquiry concerns itself with events happening over time, the
people who experience these events, their actions and the ensuing interpretation of
them by listener and teller alike.
The contribution of narrative inquiry is the creation of a new sense of meaning
and significance with respect to the research topic than it is to yield a set of
46


knowledge claims that might incrementally add to knowledge in the field (Clandinin
& Connelly, 2000, p. 42).
The stories we choose to tell, and to whom, are central to our identity. Our
notions of who we are, and how we express this in the stories we tell and
remember, are influenced by local constructions of personhood (Errante, 2000,
p. 26). We must remember that some stories are better told to a certain group at a
certain time, that the same story told to another group in another time might have a
different meaning. Or, it might not be told or understood at all.
Narrative inquiry requires a great deal of openness and trust between
participant and researcher: the inquiry should be a mutual and
sincere collaboration, a caring relationship akin to friendship that is
established over time for full participation in the storytelling,
retelling, and reliving of personal experiences. It demands intense
active listening and giving the narrator full voice. Because it is
collaboration, however, both voices are heard (Marshall & Rossman,
1999, pp. 122-123).
Collaborative narrative inquiry views the research with the participants rather
than on them (Schulz et al., 1997). It essentially redefines the role of the researcher.
One of the cautions is that due to the traditional understanding of researcher and
subject, it can be a struggle to overcome issues of uneven power. The quality of the
relationship between participant and researcher-participant becomes critical to
47


overcome this tension. Additionally, as the relationship grows and the field research
is undertaken, the intimacy among participants deepens. When the research is
terminated, there can be a feeling of loss or abandonment for the group. Care must
be taken to ensure that the conversations and friendships are not abruptly
terminated.
Jalongo et al., (1995) argue that teachers stories are central to the type of
inquiry and reflection that lead to professional development and personal insight
(p. xvi). As teachers pause to reflect on their experiences and share their storied
lives, they listen, learn and grow, reflect and entertain change.
Because framework and methodology overlap in narrative inquiry, the literature
review discussion of narrative inquiry continues in Chapter 3.
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CHAPTER 3
METHODOLOGY
Introduction
As I searched through and read the literature, books about narrative inquiry and
narrative inquiry proposals and dissertations, I became more convinced that it would
be the approach both in framework and method that I would employ.
When I began thinking about qualitative research, I focused on the possibilities
of ethnography and phenomenology as my methodology and approach. However, I
was unable to reconcile what I wanted to do within my study with the distancing
between researcher and participant that ethnography requires. If I wanted to use
narrative as my approach for my inquiry I needed to find a w'ay in which I could
share and become immersed in the participants' lived stories and they with mine.
It was actually Robert Coles's (1989) Call of Stories that first brought my
attention to narrative as a possible inquiry and methodology. I was working on a
discrimination unit for elementary teachers and someone directed me to a video of
actual classes Robert Coles was conducting at Harvard. The story of the little girl,
Ruby Bridges, who integrated her elementary school in the 60's, was one of his
stories. The video (First Run Icarus Films, 1990) was captivating. Coles was
teaching psychiatry through literature. I checked out the above-mentioned book at
49


the library and began to read. For Coles, narrative inquiry is about relationships
with and among the reader, the author, the text, the patient and life. (Clandinin &
Connelly, 2000). Coles credits William Carlos Williams for introducing him to the
literature of medicine. I checked out Williamss poetry on Passaic, New Jersey
(1963) and read the influence Coles refers to in his writing. When I was a child, my
father would take my sisters and me to Passaic, to a park that had a steep rock and a
waterfall, mentioned in one of Williamss poem. I had forgotten that memory until I
read the poem (about a newly wed couple where the wife slips off the cliff) and I
was reminded how terrified I was of going near the edge. In narrative inquiry, key
terms, according to Clandinin and Connelly (2000), are: memory, fact and fiction,
interpretation, story, history, context, image and metaphor (p.42). I was beginning
to see how Deweys (1938) reconstruction of experience, the telling and retelling of
stories and narrative inquiry fit together so well.
Next, I read Mary Catherine Bateson's Peripheral Visions: Learning Along the
Way (1994), in preparation for a weekend seminar my doctoral lab was hosting. So
taken with her writing style and treatment of narrative, I continued reading,
Composing a Life (1990), and Full Circles, Overlapping Lives: Culture and
Generation in Transition (2000). In Peripheral Visions (1994) she says, Our
species thinks in metaphors and learns through stories (p. 11). Clandinin and
Connelly (2000) say, To Bateson, it is clear that anthropologists, all of us, lead
50


storied lives on storied landscapes (p. 8). They go on to explore what
anthropological inquiry might look like for Bateson, deciding that this book is a
series of mini-narratives with the narrator in them (p. 9). I left the seminar
weekend, thinking about my students' and my storied lives woven together in
narrative inquiry. Through Bateson and Coles, I began to watch for how narrative
was being employed in other social science fields.
Eventually I discovered the work that Clandinin and Connelly (1988; 1990;
1996; 1997; 1999; 2000) had published on narrative inquiry. To my delight,
Narrative Inquiry: Experience and Story in Qualitative Research (2000), discussed
Coles and Bateson in great detail. It was all coming together.
Methods
According to Connelly and Clandinin (1990), the process of narrative inquiry
consists of three stages: working in the field or experiencing the experience, from
field to field texts (their term for data collection), and from field texts to research
texts. In narrative inquiry having the researcher in the field allows intimacy and
participation. As Clandinin and Connelly (2000) state, We are in the parade we
presume to study (p. 80). What is told as well as the meaning of what is told is
shaped by the relationship between researcher and participant. In order to collect
this data or field texts, narrative inquirers use a variety of methods: oral history,
51


stories, annals and chronicles, photographs, memory boxes and other personal
artifacts, research interviews, journals, autobiographical and biographical writing,
letters, conversations and activities, field notes and document analysis (Connelly &
Clandinin, 1990).
Background
In 1995 I applied to a community college to teach and direct a U.S. Department
of Education Title VII grant to prepare paraprofessionals to become bilingual
teachers and to provide the opportunity for certified teachers to earn a Masters in
ESL/bilingual education. The job description for the director included bilingual
ability in Spanish, grant writing and administration, successful experience teaching
in a diverse K-12 setting, a Master's degree and teaching at the college level. My
youngest sister said to me, That ad has everything but your name in it! I applied.
By the time I arrived, the grant had already started and the participants had been
chosen and had successfully completed their first semester at the community
college. Dolores, Shawn and Adriana were 3 of the 8 participants selected from the
same district, although from different schools.
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The Process
For my study these 3 students were selected, as previously mentioned, because
they were the ones from the undergraduate program who chose to continue their
postgraduate education. They were well known to me from their teacher
preparation program in which I taught as well as directed. Since the same grant
provided opportunities for a cohort group to earn their Master's degrees, and I
directed and taught at this level as well, I knew that the contact among us would
continue.
In the Fall of 2002 I approached these students to inquire if they would be
interested in participating in a narrative inquiry study. I explained the theory behind
narrative inquiry, the basic requirements for their participation and a tentative
timeline. They enthusiastically agreed. They signed the informed consent forms in
compliance with the universitys human subjects policy, however, the interviews
were conducted only after the semester ended and participants had received their
course grades. This helped ensure that their conversations would be honest and
more readily forthcoming.
At the beginning of the grant program these students had signed permission
forms allowing for class work, correspondence and program information to be used
for any educational research or study. Therefore, as mentioned earlier, I had access
to reflection papers my participants had written for an undergraduate education
53


class, the videotapes of each of those classes, their personal philosophy of education
statements included in their student teaching portfolios, a file of e-mail
correspondence, an interview video we had produced for the grant program and
perhaps most importantly, I continued to have access to these teachers as they
pursued their graduate education. Taking advantage of and using this variety of
sources increased the plausibility of my study conclusions.
Our friendship had grown steadily for the past 7 years and the trust we
developed with each other allowed for the sharing of our lives in very personal
ways, including invitations to family celebrations, dinners at each other's homes,
recognitions of personal achievements and support during crises. Additionally, the
participants often traveled together to attend classes and arranged for study times to
help facilitate their learning and work on collaborative projects for class.
By far the most revealing times we had together were those shared around my
dining room table. There, without the presence of children, grandchildren, spouses,
or colleagues from school and work, we were able to commit to a safe,
uninterrupted time to raise our voices, tell our stories and begin to explore the
connections of our storied lives with our teaching practice as bilingual educators.
These were the times and the stories that I decided to capture on audiotape. My
hope was that together we could re-listen to ourselves by reading the transcriptions
(see Appendix A) and look for those stories that seemed to echo in our being and in
54


our current professional practice. I chose to audiotape each of my participants
individually for an hour, and together for the same amount of time. I repeated this
process throughout the early winter and ended up with 8 tapes and approximately
150 pages of transcription. The individual sessions were taped after dinner hours,
but still around the table. The group conversations always involved food and never
ended on time. We agreed that the first interviews would be conversations that
focused on our storied lives that brought us to teacher education and that the second
sessions would focus on the stories of today in person and profession. There were
no set questions and the participants needed very little encouragement to talk about
their lives.
When the transcription process was finished, I chose to use McCormack's
(2002) set of questions to print out and give to the participants for them to think
about while they were reading the completed transcripts of their individual and
group interviews:
Was this the story you thought you were telling me?
Does what I have written make sense to you?
How does this account compare with your experience?
Have any aspects of your experience been omitted? Please include these
wherever you feel it is appropriate.
Do you wish to remove any aspect(s) of your experience from this text?
Please feel free to make any other comments (p. 299).
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The participants reviewed their transcribed copies and let stand their storied
words with only minor deletions due to concerns over potential job related
confidentialities. For the remainder of the writing, all participants were in touch by
e-mail, phone and in person to oversee the content completion of the dissertation.
Although we talked about using pseudonyms before the research began, the
participants were satisfied to use their real names. As in many narrative inquiry
studies, participants often choose not to hide their identity because they want their
story told. I did, however, use relationship terms, i.e. husband, daughter, etc., for
family members, and general administrator titles for school district personnel rather
than actual names. When we met for the last time before I turned in my dissertation
for final review, each participant signed a pseudonym waiver on the bottom of their
consent form that originally stated I would create pseudonyms.
The Participants
Our circle of voices overlapped in many ways. All four of us started our careers
in education as paraprofessionals. We are all non-traditional students. Dolores and
I are old enough to be Shawn's and Adriana's mothers. Shawn and I are bicultural,
and continue to work on reclaiming our bilingualism. Adriana is a native speaker.
Dolores grew up with both languages. Dolores and 1 are grandmothers. Shawn,
Adriana and Dolores are public school teachers. I teach at a college. Adriana,
56


Dolores and I are mothers. Shawn is anticipating that role. Dolores, Shawn and I
are native-born U.S. citizens. Adriana has immigrated from Mexico. Dolores is a
nueva mexicana. Shawn teaches in and I direct a bilingual program. Until this fall,
Adriana and Dolores were ESL teachers. We all believe in critical pedagogy as we
struggle to find our identities, and voice our stories in mainstream American
education. Our conversations mingled as we explored our personal pathways to our
professional practice.
The following narrative vignettes are abridged forms of the personal narrative
statements we each wrote for class requirements during their Bachelor's and my
Doctoral programs. They are included here and serve to acquaint the reader with
the participants, to enter into hearing our circle of voices, not as a stranger, but as
one who has some familiarity around the table.
Laura
Natural bom leader...I once read that about myself on a placemat in a Chinese
restaurant. I am not sure you can be naturally born a leader, but I got plenty of
experience leading as the first born of my siblings. Big sister to two and big cousin
tolO, I grew up with lots of responsibility and imposed power and authority from
our Italian familys adults. But, I also grew up surrounded by love and joy and a
very defined sense of belonging It seems so obvious now, and yet, I never really
paused to define or identify those core beliefs my family held and instilled in me..
57


Now that I am aware of them, I can see how family and joy are reflected in what I
choose to read, what I write, who I spend time with, what I want for my life, and
how I try to live it.
Some of my most important lessons for life I learned on the band bus and on the
wings of the stage. Growing up in the Big Band Era, being a part of that music and
generation, and traveling with my parents was and still is very central to my passion
about learning and opportunity. By the time I was six years old, I could read a road
map and name all the states and their corresponding capitals. I understood time,
distance and mileage. I knew when to sing and when to be still. I knew hard work
and practice, modeled by my father. And, I saw America.
Firsthand I saw the Golden Gate Bridge, Mt. Rushmore, the Empire State
Building and every outdoor band shell from Los Angeles to Atlantic City. I saw the
mighty St. Lawrence River, the Great Lakes, the Rockies and the Pacific and
Atlantic Oceans. My father took me to every museum and historical marker in every
town where the band played. I knew my geography and my history from my own
life. And while my father made sure that I had the necessary training to be a good,
smart American child, (veiy important to an Italian immigrant at the end of World
War II), my mother read to me. She read poetry, Louisa May Alcott, and the Bible.
As the years went by I understood that as Italians there were places we could
not go, or were not welcomed. I saw how hurt my father was because of this and
because my mother was not Italian, I saw her embarrassment. My mother was of
Cherokee-Danish ancestry and her family always tried to hide the Cherokee part.
As for me, I was enthralled with the idea of Native American heritage and planned
to study for a career in social work and move to a reservation. In high school I got
the nickname, Red Wop. And that just made my passion even stronger. When my
family was deciding on where I would go to college (this was a big decision for I
58


would be the very first generation in our entire family to go) 1 voiced an interest in
Carlisle because Jim Thorpe had gone there, or possibly Haskell Institute in
Lawrence, Kansas. My mother absolutely forbade such thinking, and so I went to
Hanover in Indiana. There, surrounded mostly by tri-state peers from Indiana,
Illinois and Kentucky who were for the most part conservative Midwesterners, I
settled in to get a degree in sociology and Spanish. The sociology was my choosing
but it was a compromise. My grandfather told me that I should go to college and
learn Spanish; Spanish would be the language of the future. I remember how when
my steamer trunk came from New York all my floor mates gathered around to watch
me unpack. My clothes were more like costumes to them and I longed to return to
the security of a place where Italian wasn t pronounced with a long l!
Modeled after Brown University, Hanover College was the only other four-year
institution of higher education that provided a required plan known as 15-15-5.
What l soon joyfully discovered was that I was expected to leave campus every
spring semester for those five weeks and have experiential learning. After four
years in high school with good, but very traditional structuring in curriculum and
schedule, I once again was going to have the opportunity to learn by traveling and
living outside of the traditional classroom. I did social work in Cincinnati, interned
at the state mental hospital in Indiana, and practiced my Spanish in Chiapas, where
I saw firsthand the abuses of the Chapanecas by the Mexican government. I
protested the war in Vietnam and picketed the army arsenal near the campus. With
flowers in my hair I danced up the steps of the main statue in the center of
Indianapolis at midnight and felt that I was part of a large movement among college
peers across America who were going to save the world. I never forgot that
passion.
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For my entire adult educational life, / have worked with students to help prepare
them to have opportunity and voice. I have taught in Title l elementary schools,
bilingual schools, helped develop Colorados migrant education plan and worked
for over 15 years with the migrant communities of northern Colorado. I mediated
on special assignment for the United Ways Childrens House in Washington, D.C.
to help Salvadoran parents and Afro-American staff better understand one another,
and I have raised four children to live joyfully in a global culture. All of it has been
hard work, but the rewards have been many. I left classroom teaching because 1
made a promise to myself many years ago. I said that when I had one-third of my
career left I would move into a position where 1 could influence teachers coming
into the field and thereby create a legacy of the things I have been fighting for
throughout my professional and personal life. As a product of the 60s and a
bicultural family, I continue to fight for social justice and voice
Adriana
My name is Adriana Ayala, and I was bom in Chihuahua, Mexico. I am the
daughter of a single mother who raised four kids on her own. 1 can proudly say that
for a woman who only completed third grade, my mother was able to raise three
teachers!
1 am the fourth child in my family, and was raised by a strict grandmother and
by older siblings, as our mother was always working to give us the best she could.
My childhood was full of games, dreams and the joys of a simple life in a small
town. School was a block from my house, so I always walked there with the rest of
the kids from my low-to-middle class neighborhood. There were a lot of people
living in my house, so we all had chores to do after school. I learned to read and to
60


do arithmetic thanks to my older brothers who were not allowed to go out and play
until all of us were done with homework. I grew up playing with dolls, dirt, cats,
dogs, marbles, etc.
I became a mother at sixteen years old, and from that point on, my life changed:
I left my childhood to engage in responsibilities that were not yet appropriate for my
age. Fortunately for my baby and me, my family gave us all the support we needed.
I came to the United States in 1990 and went to intensive ESL classes in Texas,
where I met classmates from all over the world. I loved the life in the United States
from day one; I made a lot of friends, and of course I got a boyfriend. We were
married in 1992 and had a son that same year. Life went on and one day we
decided to move to Colorado. I began working as an ESL aide the first week we
arrived here and became an American citizen a short time after this.
1 enrolled in a Title VIIprogram to prepare paraprofessionals to become
teachers and was part of this cohort group for six years. All its members, along
with our director, Laura Marasco, have become more than friends. We have
become family. We learned each others kids names and birthdays, we cried,
argued, and celebrated together, we traveled and shared rooms together, we
became more than just classmates, we became brothers and sisters.
Throughout the course of my experiences as an undergraduate student, I have
experienced significant growth as a person, as a student, and as a teacher. In this
process, / have developed a career, and therefore, I can do many jobs now.
Through constant learning and preparation, whether in the classroom with my
college professors, or doing my field practices, 1 have acquired many talents and
skills. I have learned from my classmates just as much as I have from my
professors. I have learned that to become a leader in this profession, one must not
be concerned with money; one must have his mind set on growing and working
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cooperatively with others, for teaching is a profession of communication and
modeling.
Shawn
/ grew up in Los Angeles and the Front Range of Colorado. I love skiing, hiking
and mountain biking. I have been a student for the majority of my life. I am a
naturally curious person and a lifelong learner. I also plan to go to graduate
school and get a Masters degree in some area of education.
In 1994 I began working for a school district as a paraprofessional and fell in
love with teaching. I became a teacher in 1999 and I find the thought of doing
something else for my lifes work difficult to fathom.
1 have always loved working with children. I find their energy, simplicity and
enthusiasm inspiring. Since I value education and the lifelong pursuit of knowledge,
it only made sense that I would become a teacher.
I became interested in bilingual education while working for a foreign
ambassador to the United States. I was always very impressed with the ease to
which even his preschool-age children were able to translate between three
languages.
A professional goal that I have is to show my students that the traits that they
bring into the classroom are valuable resources. I want them to know that their
differences should be celebrated.
It is difficult to pinpoint the most meaningful professional development
opportunity for me, as they have been abundant. If 1 were to choose only one, I
would say that it was working for so many years under some amazingly gifted
teachers. I had some very generous mentors who shared with me a wealth of
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knowledge. / was able to gain a lot of practical experience and have best
practices modeled for me.
Certainly, the second-most valuable experience is my practical experience of
teaching on my own in conjunction with personal reflections. / find that reflecting
on my teaching is the key to becoming a better teacher.
Through teaching, I have learned in small ways that I have a huge impact on the
lives of my students. Often times, it comes in the form of a parent telling me what
their child says about me or about school. Sometimes it is evident in their writing
or their academic achievement. These reminders make me aware of how valuable is
the time that I have with them. This keeps me focused on attempting to give each
student an enriching, supportive environment that encourages a love for learning.
Dolores
My full name is Dolores Christine Montoya. My family calls me Dodie, and
until about ten years ago I almost exclusively went by this nickname given to me by
my brother when I was an infant. I am the youngest of eleven children, and we are
what I would call a very tight knit family. We have a family camp out every August
and those who can make it attend, and those who cant are usually very
disappointed. At this outing there are usually about 100 in attendance. We have a
wonderful time, and in the past 20 years I have had to miss going twice.
I love to read and learn more about the world around me. I listen to the news
channel at every opportunity so as to keep abreast of the current issues in the world.
I also enjoy doing things for my immediate family: my husband, my daughter, and
her two children (the loves of my life): and my son and his wife. While many people
have commented that I am always busy, 1 respond that yes, 1 do work hard, but I
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also know how to be "lazy and relax. Besides reading for pleasure, I read articles
and books that enlighten me in my teaching practices.
I am not sure that I had a burning desire to become a teacher, it just happened;
and I feel that I am a natural at it. I love to see the children respond to concepts
that are new to them; and perhaps that is why I especially enjoy teaching English as
a Second Language. I have, however, in the last years begun to teach literacy even
more than ESL. While at first 1 found this to be objectionable, / now have
discovered that I can incorporate the two things / love to do: Teach English
through literacy. The one drawback is that I cannot do what / know is imperative
for children, and that is to teach reading in their native tongue. I feel though, that I
can somewhat make up for this by giving extensive first language support while
teaching second language acquisition and reading skills. The courses l have taken
in my undergraduate studies have been invaluable to me and to my students. The
parents will often comment on how pleased they are that they are reading in
English, and I gently encourage them to read to them in Spanish, which will
strengthen the students ability to speak and read both languages.
My experiences in working with children has taught me that I can learn from my
students as much as they can learn from the stimulation that I offer to them. My
students have taught me to be sensitive to the child who must go through a different
thinking process in order to come up with an answer, statement, or question. My
students have also taught me to think before / speak, to question my motives, and
most of all to always be aware that perhaps there is another method of presenting
stimulation to the children. As a teacher / try always to remember: Change is
good, revision is better, and modifying is essential.
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Data Analysis
Once the audiotapes have been transcribed, some researchers, like McCormack
(2002) warn against thematic coding because words may have different meanings in
different contexts. Additionally, breaking transcriptions into themes may lose the
multiple voices spoken in that context (p. 312).
I did, however, decide to break the transcriptions into codes, distinguishing
emerging themes from our conversations, (see Appendix B). I gave each theme a
different color and used highlighters to designate them. This technique made very
visible in the transcription how the themes within the conversations wandered in,
around and through their stories. This also enabled me to see previous and
subsequent speech, which bordered a marked theme to determine if I needed to
include those words in order to keep the context authentic to that voice.
As any group of friends who are invested in each other's lives will tell you, talk
wanders, and is full of interruptions, sudden recollections sparked by another's
speech and memory. So it was with our audio taped conversations. It made sense to
review the transcriptions, which often continued, left off and continued individually
and within the group for the 8 audio taping sessions, and search for those
conversations that imparted a sense of what we were all looking for. Again, one of
the advantages of narrative inquiry methodology is that all the participants review
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the texts to validate their authenticity with regard to their spoken words both as
individuals and within the group conversations.
Rather than following a particular voice, or relating conversation in a linear
framework, I have chosen to cluster voices by theme. Because it is difficult to
separate these themes, as has already been evidenced by the content overlap in the
literature presented in Chapter 2, the reader will once again see in Chapter 4 how
identity, critical pedagogy and relationship encircle each other in the formation of
our professional lives.
Strengths and Potential Risks of the Study
Research always brings with it the question of trustworthiness. In narrative
inquiry, the researcher-participants must be aware that they do not become what
Garrick (1999) calls colonizer of the subjects through re-telling their stories
(p. 152). We have to guard against telling the story we want to tell. One way to
prevent this is to invite the participants to read, re-read and discuss the field texts
with the researcher to verify that what was being told is now what is being written.
To further verify, or triangulate the accuracy of the study, I reviewed other data
sources, i.e. videotapes, student reflection writings, e-mails and other
correspondence.
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Another potential risk is that as researchers, we may write ourselves out of the
story. It is sometimes difficult to remember this because many of us have been
trained to be the observer and not the participant. We need to make sure that when
all participants re-read their stories, they see themselves reflected in that writing.
Another common risk of narrative inquiry is to the relationship of the
participants. After spending so much time as a group, revealing our lives to one
another through hours of audio taping and telling, the researcher disappears to
organize the field texts. Writing the research is a solo act and demands great
concentrations of time. The non-researcher-participants can often feel abandoned
during that process, and may even feel their friendship was used for research
purposes only. It is important for the researcher to stay in contact with the group.
Fortunately, my group of participant-friends were friends long before the research
officially began. Additionally, we have stayed in touch during the writing process
as I have reviewed and checked to make sure I accurately represented their views
and opinions, without divulging anything that would cause them discomfort,
embarrassment or concern. We meet once a month for dinner, and there is no
reason to believe that after the dissertation is completed those together times will
change.
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Sitting around the circle, talking as friends who have a history of 7 years
together, the field texts are full of bits and pieces of stories, glimpses of tales,
enough data for another 10 studies.
From someone else, for instance... the contact would simply be
casual, friendly, just a kind of parlance, formless, easy talk. But
(here)...the touch is different. It is not sexual and not sisterly. It
calls on that very minor power we can have over each other, that
exercise of influence and duty which we know from our families, our
fathers. Our cousin blood. That age-old weakness of brethren you
always root out and you always use (Lee, 1995, p. 255).
One unforeseen benefit for us all was the actual hard copy recording of
memories. After participants received the full transcriptions, I was waiting for
reactions as to the validity of what was presented. We all set about to review our
words on paper with the focused intent of ensuring the authenticity of our stories
and critically viewing our remarks for any that we would like revised, deleted,
clarified or corrected. But, we participants now had a piece of our history in print.
Adriana remarked, This is so wonderful. When you read it, you can hear our
voices. These are our stories.
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CHAPTER 4
THE FINDINGS
Beyond myself
Somewhere
I wait for my arrival.
-From: The Balcony by Octavio Paz
Introduction
It is a snowy winter night, dark and cold outside. Shawn, Dolores and Adriana
have all driven from different hometowns on icy, snow packed roads to meet
together at my home for dinner and taped conversation. They know this is
important to me, and as such, it is important to them.
We sit together warmed by friendship, encircled around my dining room table,
laughing, talking, eating, drinking, and interrupting each other as we reminisce
about our seven-year friendship that began in early spring, 1996.
Over the next 8 meetings we share stories that voice: Who are we? Who were
we? How did we become bilingual educators? How do we work in the field? How
have our relationships supported us? And, What are our hopes for the future? What
do we do now? We invite you again to enter our circle.
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Identity at Home and School
If you want one year of prosperity, grow grain.
If you want ten years of prosperity, grow trees.
If you want one hundred years of prosperity, grow people.
~Chinese Proverb
When I began coding the transcriptions there were so many referenced
conversations relating to reading and books, I had to include a section to
demonstrate how powerful the memories of early literacy were for each of the
participants. Regardless of how many or few books were in our homes, there was
almost a reverence in the recall of stories about special books, and learning to read.
We remembered models of readers, and acknowledged those teachers or parents
who brought literacy into our lives. All of our parents were readers.
Whether we loved school like Dolores, or found it boring, like Shawn, education
was definitely very important in our lives. Our parents, grandparents and in some
cases, siblings, provided the home support for learning, even though most parents
were unable to provide actual homework assistance. But because there was not
much modeling for post high school education, we were left to figure that out for
ourselves.
Early Literacy Memories
Dolores: Well first of all, I graduated from Taos, but before that I lived in Denver
with my mom. My dad passed away when I was 10 years old. But my parents were
readers, you know, they were always reading novels and talking about the novels
that they read and everybody read in my family so I read at a real young age.
Laura: And where are you in the birth order?
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Dolores: Im the last one of eleven. And so my memories are of probably just the
last five siblings in the house. Because they were so far spread apart, most of them
were married by the time I was bom. Lets see, how many were married? Three or
four were already married and so then by the time Im, what, six, five or six going to
school then theres only maybe five left in the house, but still we were all readers...
my brother was 10, my sister was 12,13, and my brother was about 16 and then he
married young so he was out shortly thereafter. We used to have to walk to school,
and at that time they had reading circles. We would sit in a circle and take turns
reading and I could always, you know, knew so well, I mean I was rather impatient
waiting for everybody else to read, but this teacher did have the foresight to take me
into the 2nd grade room and let me pick out, let me read the readers from there, the
little basal readers, but we didn t have any books at home because 1 remember we
went to Calijornia when I was in about the 3rd or 4th grade and I copied an entire
book. I knew we were leaving the day after school let out and so two months before
that I copied a whole book ; in fact I still have the writing from...
Laura: Do you remember what book it was?
Dolores: No, one of those basal...
Laura: Just a basal reader?
Dolores: Yeah, a basal reader, and then just before school was going to let out, I
was almost finished with the book one of the teachers said, Well wed have let you
take that book. (Laura: Oh... sighs with sympathy), but it was like, oh well, 1 just
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had a few more pages to copy; Ill just copy it, and of course by the time we got in
the car, I didn t even want to read it because (Laura: laughing) I already knew it by
heart. We didnt have books at home. My mom and dad used to go to the library
and thats where we could get books, was from the library.
Shawn: Yes, it (reading) was done every night, all the time. And you know they
would read the most boring book because I wanted it, and my favorite book was
Hello Rock (both of us laughing). It was the most boring book in the place. It goes:
Hello Rock, gee you re a nice rock and then it, something about wont you be my
friend? I dont know and they would read it again and again because thats what I
wanted. But they...
Laura: So your mother and father both read to you...
Shawn: Right, but typically my dad more than my mom just because my dad was
just sort of more emotionally available.
Laura: How about reading at school? And going to the libraiy, do you remember?
Shawn: We would go to the library. Also my dad was in college at the time so he
had more of a flexible schedule. I mean he would pick me up from school, and he
would read to me or do my homework and then go to the library; we spent a lot of
time together doing those kinds of things and they also showed excitement towards
books, and they also read on their own ; they certainly modeled that, and they had
Chicano history books; they had a variety of books and stuff that they would read.
And my mom's a writer too. She was always interested in murder mystery books.
12


Laura: And so how has that influenced your reading as an adult now? Do you think
that played a big part, loving books, having them around, liking to be read to...
Shawn: Well, I dont know, because Im a, Im an extremely slow reader so it takes
me forever to get through a novel. I tend to just read whats required of me so thats
why, you know I stay in, I keep taking classes so that I read because I do really like
that knowing and 1 appreciate learning, but, it will take me forever to read on my
own unless I have a requirement or a deadline. So I guess I dont have, no I think if
I werent in classes I would read on my own, absolutely, I would.
Adriana: Now, when I was little, I remember getting sick. And my grandma would
bring me a book to read or to color. That was my prize. That was a prize. We
didn t have a lot of books. In fact, I dont think my mom ever read a book to me.
Now, for some reason, being the youngest, being around...yeah I was the youngest
forever so when I went to kindergarten, I learned to read. So when 1 went into first
grade, I knew how to read. And you know in Spanish, you just learn to read, its so
easy. Letters have one sound and you learn them and thats it and you keep on and
move on and you read. So its way easier to read in Spanish and I guess thats one
of the things we have here (The U.S.) that people dont seem to understand when
kids come in to school with Spanish and then we try to teach them to read in English
(laughing). Its kind of like I dont know how well I would be reading right now if
they would have done something like that to me. You know, I think that the reason
Im such a strong reader is because I started reading when I was young, and I
started reading in Spanish and it was something I truly and I pretty quickly learned
to enjoy.
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(Adriana's brother received an educational award in Mexico and a TV reporter came
to interview her mother, and ask her about her own education).
Adriana continues...My mom said that she told him that she had been a very
ignorant woman. I said, Mom, you re not ignorant! You had, you always kept
yourself, she always up to this date, she reads the newspaper from top to bottom,
everything, everything, shes a good reader and / do remember that the kind of
literature that we had at home were those weekly novels that we had and we had 4
or 5 coming every week. So we had those and my mom would read them first and
then she would bring them home and they would be at a place and I remember we
were all fighting (with humor and laughter), Who took it and didn t put it back?
Who has them? I need to read it!
Laura: You all took turns reading (both laugh).
Adriana: Uhhuh, reading the weekly novels. And then there was another one that
was called, Novellas de Sentimental. And those are kind of like, almost like comic
books but theyre not comics; they have the little drawings and then letters, and it
was usually a drama or like, a story, a love story. And then pretty soon, I think I
was 13 or 14 when 1 got into just the chapter books, but my chapter books were
more like Julia or Andrea or like love novels because thats all we had at home.
And at school, the only novels that we really read in middle school were the classics
like The Man of La Mancha and The Iliad and La Celestina. And then what else
was a big one that we read? Gosh 1 cant remember. But yeah, those were like
classics basically. We were in, if you go to Mexico and you see the schools, we
didnt have a library, so we didnt really have novels and books and things like we
do here in America, at least not the same, so.
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Laura: 1 never remember my father reading a book, but he always read the
newspaper and we had magazines at home, especially the National Geographic. He
read that cover-to-cover. In fact when I was in jr. high school, he started collecting
them. Every time we would travel somewhere, he would check out old bookstores or
secondhand shops and buy up old editions of them. By the time I left for college, he
had every single edition since they first published in the 1800s. He was so proud of
them. He had them bound in green leather, six editions in each volume. When my
little sister was in about 3rd grade, she needed a picture of something for a report, I
think it was a boat, but I dont remember. Anyway, she cut it out of one of the
volumes. I dont think my dad ever knew! One Christmas I got Little Women for a
gift. It came in a box and had colored drawings in some chapters. My mom read a
chapter a night to my sister and me. 1 loved that book! My mother read all the time
and joined Book of the Month Club, which was a big deal back in the 1950s.
Adriana: Well, in my house we did have books but they were encyclopedias that my
uncle bought and those were kept with a key, we were not, we didn 7 have access to
them unless we really needed to research something and my uncle would be there
making sure that we treated them with care. And they're still there, I mean theyre
so old now, but theres a little cabinet in the wall that he built with glass, and then
he has the key, hes got the key for it and, the books are there, the encyclopedia.
Laura: Thats wonderful...
Adriana: Yeah so those encyclopedias were like, ooooh. Now when my brother,
the one thats right next to me, when he graduated, my uncle gave him a complete
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set of an encyclopedia. And that was his big present because books were so
expensive and especially the ones that are leather bound.
School Day Stories
Adriana: My mom always told us that school was the only thing that she was going
to be able to give us so to better take advantage of it and, things like that. My
mother was a provider, bringing home books and things and money, and then
grandma was there making sure, man, eight o 'clock, everybody had to be inside in
bed, fed and ready to go to sleep and ready to wake up early in the morning next
day to go to school. And it was like you better believe it that you didn 't get a bad
report from school, whether grades or behavior, because grandma was all over you,
letting you know, that your mother is out there busting her knees and whatever,
working for you all, to feed you all, to dress you and to do things for you, you better
do well in school. And, we had that engrained in our brains. You know how we got
to see mom ? We would go to the restaurant and we would work three shifts and she
would pay us in the afternoon. I remember so many times going to the restaurant
and doing my homework and just being the cashier and that would give my mom a
break.
Laura: My mom and dad would alternate signing our report cards. Mom would
always question anything less than an A or a satisfactory mark, but my dad would
make me feel really bad if my grades weren 't good. He had such a hard time early
on in school, not speaking English that I think he wanted all of us to really be
successful in school, and expected it of us. We didn't misbehave ever at school
because we knew we would get it when we got home. I never remember my parents
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helping me with my homework, except for once when I had a report due on
Uruguay. My father called my Uncle Angelo, who was the music director for Moore
McCormick shipping lines and traveled to South America often. Uncle Angelo
brought me back pictures and postcards of Uruguay and I won the county social
studies report competition. I look back on it now, remembering that there was only
one book on Uruguay in the entire county public librcuy. Most people probably
didn t even know where Uruguay was. But our family did because we had relatives
in Buenos Aires, across the river in Argentina.
Dolores: I loved school. When I was in 8th grade it was discovered that I had a
curvature of the spine, so I had to wear a brace for 2 years. It had screws and it
would tear my clothes, and I had to wear great big clothes to fit over this brace. It
isolated me from everybody, and that's when I started to read and I read, and read
and read. I became a real loner and learned how to deal with and work alone.
Shawn: Education was definitely very important. My parents worked with me on
any concepts that I, kind of to prepare me for school, or helped me learn to read
and, read to me and talked to me about world issues, that kind of thing. So it was
very important...But I think, also, I was, I was bored in school, in elementary, and
middle school, and high school; it was really boring and it was really not connected
to my life typically, and I just sort of skated through.... I think probably more than
anything it wasn t challenging.
Dolores: When I first started college, 1 was taking random classes; I don't even
know who I am, you know. Im just taking classes. I enjoyed them and to this day I
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still remember a lot of the things we did and I enjoyed learning, but I had no vision,
nothing. So I dropped out and started socializing and going out with my girlfriends.
Shawn: / did go to college and 1 did very, very poorly. And I was completely lost; I
just didn t know what I wanted to do, and I didn t have any connection to what or
how I was going to use any of this information. / had no focus at all.
Language Reflections
I'll admit she was barely a child, with no definitions of her own.
No recognition of her vast cultural inheritance.
~Sandra Maria Esteves
The range of our dual language ability and confidence or lack of in second
language acquisition is very evident in our conversations. It took all of us until
adulthood to recognize the gift of bilingualism and biculturalism that we were bom
into or acquired. Shawn and I grew up with both languages in our early years. Our
fathers spoke their first languages, and our grandparents were keepers of the
language and culture. The fact that both our mothers are White, English speaking
women who separated us from our paternal ethnicities when we were young, played
a big part in our loss of fluency in the second language. We also witnessed our
families' attempts to be more White. Dolores grew up with a mixture of both
Spanish and English, much of it invented in her New Mexican surroundings.
Because her family used English later on, she too had to reclaim Spanish as an
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adult. Adriana was hungry to learn English, but has learned a great deal about
bilingualism and preservation of Spanish on her journey. We all struggle with lack
of confidence in our second languages.
Shawn: I had wanted to have nothing to do with Spanish until I was older. I didn t
learn Spanish until I was around 23 and I'm 36 now, ...it wasn 't until after my great
grandmother died and I realized, she had become senile and so she had lost her
English and her English was never very good anyway, and I just, when she died I
realized that that was a lost language resource. So then I started to take Spanish
classes, and it was so silly; I went to Guadalajara to study and I would sometimes
go to LA on my way back or just take a trip to LA and realize how much Spanish
was there and (laughing) in my family, but I had always ignored it. I didn 't want to
understand it; I didn't want my parents, my grandparents talking to me in Spanish,
which is sad and ridiculous. I certainly don't want my students to leam that one
language is more valuable than another, and theyre just tools, you know why not
keep all of them, all of your tools?
Laura: I know in my family, my grandparents held on very strongly to Italian and
even though all 6 of their sons spoke Italian in the home and when they were young,
there was English Only for them in school, and in fact, it's the story that we heard
from my dad and uncles about getting put in the wood shed, having to wear a
dunce's cap or getting their knuckles cracked with a ruler if they spoke Italian in
school. And so because of that and believing that English was the pathway to make
it in America, my father really and all my uncles, actively discouraged all of their
children, all my cousins and my sisters and myself from speaking Italian so it really,
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if it wasnt for my grandparents, I would have really lost my connection with the
language. (Shawn: Right). Shawn, do you think that was similar with your father?
Shawn: No, not necessarily because he, I think he was already trying, starting to,
he was already gaining an understanding that, that really doesn t have a lot of
validity, that idea that English is superior. So, no. Absolutely not, even little kids
would come over and speak Spanish to him and, he was certainly fine with that.
Although, it came from my grandmother, I know it did, because she was
embarrassed of it, and so, Im sure that she saw English as opportunity, but my dad
also, he sounds and he acts pretty White, otherwise, he has very, very dark skin, but
he acts, hes pretty White (laughing). Its hard to describe, but its true, he does,
yeah, his name, he goes by Rick in the business world. His name is Augustine and
he grew up as Tino and then, I think when he went to the Air Force, somehow it
went to Richard, which is his middle name, and then Rick. So. I do think he got that
message to be more White, but little by little...but as he became educated, I think he
kind of realized that where it comes from, where those messages come from and
really, and then by the time my grandmother was much older, she definitely relaxed
in a lot of those areas and wasn t as embarrassed of it, and didn t send that
message out that you had to be, that you had to look White in the world.
Laura: My dad changed his name too. He was bom Guido, but no one who wasnt
Italian knew how to spell it, or pronounce it, so he changed it to Wedo. I used to be
embarrassed in school when we would take notes home to our parents. Mine
always said, Mr. And Mrs. Weed Marasco. No one knew how to spell Wedo either!
Before he died, he confessed that he was sorry that he didnt teach all of us Italian.
I regret that also. It is strange to speak Spanish better than Italian. If it weren 'tfor
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my grandparents...I loved going to their house. The smells, the sounds, and they
actively encouraged my Italian. I miss them.
Shawn: / spent a lot of time at their (grandparents) house. And yeah, I never
wanted to go home, it was just like my home. My grandparents house and their
neighbors and their, loud Spanish music and they only, the neighbors spoke
primarily Spanish, you know their next door neighbor thats still their neighbor
doesnt speak much English I mean, she does, but she tends to just speak in
Spanish...But my mom only speaks English, and my dad, Spanish; hes definitely
stronger in English, but he can certainly get by and express himself in Spanish.
Dolores: Well, it (Spanish) was always kind of there in the family. My mom always
spoke Spanish and, my dad, my aunts and uncles and, we always used a kind of
Spanglish. I didnt even know what washcloth was. We always used wajita orfunda
for pillowcase or sdbanafor sheet. I didnt even know those English words. So it
was kind of a mix. We always had the traditional food that was very binding for the
family... In Denver yes, I did take Spanish and my mom was real proud of me and
she would help me study, and thats where / learned the conjugation of the verbs.
And / began to have a love for the language and because I was a very good reader
in English, then reading in Spanish was no problem for me.
Laura: Adriana, all of you spoke Spanish only, right? Nobody spoke English?
Adriana: But we knew that English was important. So we took English in middle
school but very limited. But I always liked it, I always did. I wanted to learn....I
asked permission to move away for a while, go to El Paso. I knew this one school,
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the community college that had an excellent ESL program. A lot of people were
going there and they were very successful and I thought, well, I'm smart and I like
English so I think 1 can team it fast and then come back. So I went there, enrolled
myself, went to live with an uncle...It was just awesome and the only language that
you could speak was English because people were from all over, but one of the
reasons also why the program vras so successful was because you had to pass a
reading test, and the reading test was in your native language, but it was like a
college reading test, like what we have to do for the placement test here. So if you
didn 't pass you could not get into the program. One of the first classes that I took
was English Composition I, and I was so frustrated with my one teacher because
she told me, I did my best, and I thought I was writing beautifully, and she kept on
red-marking those papers and just telling me that it didn 'tflow and didn 7 make
sense and all that, but you know, I just, I just learned with time that the only way
that you increase you writing skills is through doing more reading, and I think
thats how I became so fluent in writing English. Just because of all the reading
that I had to do for my classes, but I didn 7 take English Comp I until I had to do it
to graduate (laughs). And then I took English Comp l and then English Comp II
(snapping her fingers) right away one, one after the next. But I waited, and waited
and waited because I was so afraid that 1 was going to fail. Yeah.
Shawn: People think I am Greek or Italian, and I don 7 sound. I'm sure that I lost
my accent very quickly because after we would go back and visit my relatives in
California, they would make fun of my accent (laughing), my pronunciation of
things.
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Laura: When I went to my family reunion in Italy last summer, everyone in the town
thought I was from Spain. I speak Italian with a Spanish accent now. Its hard
sometimes to look Italian, have an Italian surname and not speak it fluently.
Shawn: My former employers children were all trilingual. I just started to think,
Why is that only for the elite? I just kept working on my Spanish. Its kind of
embarrassing to have a Spanish surname and not be bilingual.
Dolores: Now that I speak more Spanish through the courses, it just opens up
another world for you and of course I understand the Spanish culture a lot more,
not only through the courses, but perceiving what our cultures are and relating
them to the Mexican culture. You know, seeing why we say it one way and they say
it another, where it probably meshed. I guess I can become more analytical about
why we do what we do and why they do what they do.
Adriana: I'm not a native speaker so I speak with an accent and I thought that this
was going to hinder my ability to teach math in my new teaching position, because
students were not going to respect me. I did bring this up this summer when we got
together. You, Laura, weren t here because you were at the wedding, but I told
Shawn and Dolores, You guys, this is really killing me. I just dont feel secure
anymore. I just don tfeel that the students are going to respect me. They are going
to think this teacher speaks so weird. They arent going to listen to what I say.
Then Shawn was the first one who said, (with determination in her voice),
Absolutely no! Absolutely not! They have to respect you from day one because
you are bilingual and because youre going to show them that you know how to
teach math.
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Becoming Advocates for Bilingual Education
I am, seeing, hearing, with half my soul at sea and half my soul on land, and with
these two halves of soul I see the world.
Estoy, mirando, oyendo, con la mitad del alma en el mar y la mitad del alma en la
tierra, y con las dos mitades del alma miro el mundo.
~Pablo Neruda
We all came to bilingual education by very different paths, but all our
motivations stemmed from personal contacts with children and our own lived
experiences. Adriana struggled with her daughter's failure in an all English
speaking school. Shawn saw the advantages of trilingualism in the children of her
employer; Dolores saw first hand the language injustices in a school when she went
to visit, and I wanted my children to have a second language, because in my
upbringing it had been denied.
Adriana: See, ignorant as I was when I first moved into America, 1 thought that the
way to go was to learn English, so thats what / did. I went to school and tried to
learn really fast and tried to surround myself with people who would speak English
to me, Mexican Americans in El Paso...I never, I was never phased with
discrimination or anything like that living in El Paso, but when my daughter (who
was a successful 2nd grade student at the time) came over (from Mexico) / wanted
her to learn English as fast, as quickly as possible. So what did I do? I enrolled her
in an English Only school...and after a month of being in that one school, she came
home crying one day, and, and, and sad and very sad. And I said her name...and
she says, "Mama, I dont have any friends, nobody really plays with me. 1 don't
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understand anything thats going on in the classroom, and I'm falling behind, and I,
I don't do anything in the class, nobody helps me. And we 're talking about El
Paso, where everybody speaks Spanish, but this happened to be a school that was
not bilingual, and she was going to that school with her next-door neighbor, who
was her same age; they were in the same class. Now, at home, the neighbor would
speak Spanish to her, but not at school. She would not even mouth a word in
Spanish, the one neighbor. So then I asked her, Well, what about Martita?
Doesn t she play with you and speak Spanish to you? And, Mom, no, no she
wouldn 't even talk to me in Spanish, she wouldnt even let me, like l ask her what
theyre telling me and she wouldnt even tell me. So, I cried, just with her. You
know haw bad it feels when your kids are not being accepted and liked, and when
theyre not doing ok. I mean its worse than if you 're not accepted. So it, it feels so
bad. So next day I went to school and talked to the teacher and she said, Well, I
try to do the, my best but, she sits by herself at lunch time and shes just not being
successful; she doesnt speak English and I dont speak Spanish, and it seems that
some of the kids who speak Spanish, dont want to translate for her and it's, you
know, its a problem. Why dont you enroll your daughter in a bilingual school; we
have bilingual schools and that would be the best placement for her. Well, she
didn t tell me twice. I grabbed her stuff and went to the bilingual school that was
right in our district. And gosh, did I see the difference...and by December, she was
speaking a lot of English and just feeling very comfortable, and her self-esteem was
back up again. She was successful, she was pulling As and Bs and / mean she was
in a bilingual school, and right there I knew that bilingual worked. And when /
came here, got the job as an aide and I saw the need and then when this program
came I thought, whoa! Wouldnt it be fun to just go because of all these Mexicans
and all these Latinos who are coming. Wouldnt it be fun to just have a bilingual
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school that really works and have all these Anglo kids speaking Spanish. So yeah, I
was just passionate and so excited about the whole thing, and, yes, its going to be
here and I can have a degree as well.
Shawn: ...Just seeing that his (her employer) children function very well within 3
languages. Three year olds would translate for the nannies and the drivers, and the
staff because some of them may just speak French and some of them may just speak
Arabic and some English and they had trilingual education, and so that started it I
would say. Also my interest in Spanish. Once I started to get interested in it as an
adult, and then also I started working, I kind of fell into the job at the elementary
school where they were just starting a bilingual program there, so thats kind of
how / am, you know, it just was very exciting and it made sense to me. Then I
started going to CABE (Colorado Association of Bilingual Education) conferences
and learned about it, so thats how I got into it.
Dolores: As a parent I was very involved so l went to visit the other classrooms to
see which teacher I could, would choose for my children. And I walked into this one
classroom and I saw that the Hispanic children were off to the side. So I went to the
principal and / said that this is the teacher that / picked, but Eve seen something
interesting today. Eve seen that these children were off to the side. And I talked to
my children and they said, They just always do that. And the teacher called me
from that classroom and she said, You know Dolores, 1 do try to invite them in but
they dont want to, they always just kind of do it themselves. But then we moved.
So I went to the new principal and I asked if I could observe some of the classrooms
because / wanted to see how the needs were being met of the Spanish speakers. The
principal frowned, but said Ok. .../ went into the classroom and this child was
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crying and the teacher said, I dont know what to do with her. I dont know what
shes crying about. So I explained to her (the lesson in Spanish) and at that time l
didnt even have the fluency in Spanish that I have now...I went back about a week
later and the teacher said that she has not come to school crying anymore. So I
think just being able, having somebody there that could relate to her in the
classroom and saying, You know what? School is fun.
Shawn: and using some familiar language...
Dolores: Yeah, like 1 say, at that time I was far from fluent, you know. So thats
where l got the interest. So when the bilingual program came up, like Laura said
in all honesty, I wanted a degree. Thats what / was after. But through this then
and through an interest in how the needs of these children were being met, it
sparked my interest.
Laura: Like Shawn, I spent my early days completely immersed in two languages
and never thought too much about it. But, when I became the mother of school-age
children, we lived in a district that was planning to implement dual bilingual
education. I wanted my children to be a part of it and I also, was ready to reenter
the workforce and wanted to use my formal academic language education and my
bicultural background to contribute to the plan. / was hired as an elementary
bilingual aide, because at that time I only had secondary licensure. I enrolled in
University of Northern Colorados graduate bilingual certificate program and the
next year became the first bilingual kindergarten teacher in their bilingual (1 track)
school.
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Shawn: As far as going into bilingual ed, I absolutely, I grew up knowing about
civil rights, and my dad taught me about that from a very young age. Taught me
about Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez and that was very important to both
my parents. I also wanted to be White when 1 was little, but then once we moved to
Colorado, / started to realize that family was nothing to be embarrassed of, and
what / was losing by not being there, and I was proud to be maybe a little browner
than all the kids in my class or it was ok when they asked me why my tan didn t go
away in the winter. So absolutely I think it influences my passion for bilingual
education.
Critical Pedagogy and Social Justice Stories
I want to stress the importance of the empowerment of both teachers
and students to any movement for educational and social change. I am
often asked whether it is possible for teachers to create mutually
empowering situations with their students if they themselves are not
empowered. I do not believe that it is possible.
~Seth Kreisberg
This section contains stories of social injustice awareness, always personal
and sometimes painful. There are several narratives of how formal learning about
critical pedagogy and experiential learning influence our professional actions today.
Laura: When I was 6 years old, I was visiting my grandfather in Florida, and we
were at a playground and he was watching me, not very carefully (laughing). He
was sitting on a bench reading the newspaper, and I was swinging and wanted to
get a drink of water. I got in the line that said Colored because l had learned to
read and there was a line for Colored and there was a line for White. Well, as
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