Stories of an evolving understanding of literacy by a teacher, mother, and researcher

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Shearer, Barbara J.
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A teacher’s understandings of literacy have an impact on the pedagogical decisions that the teacher makes. Such understandings of literacy may evolve through professional learning, experiences, and reflective practice, but this evolution is seldom documented and therefore not often considered as a systematic means for improving practice. Similarly, educators are rarely able to document the longitudinal literacy life of one learner. This autoethnographic study explores and documents how the researcher’s understandings of literacy have changed over time. The researcher is the primary participant in the study, but her daughter’s literacy learning (from early childhood into adolescence) informs the three eras of the researcher’s teaching life. These three eras are named: teacher, teacher-mother, and teacher-mother-researcher. In each era the researcher interprets her daughter’s literacy learning through the theoretical lens of literacy as social practice. The study draws upon documents, interviews, and artefacts from both the researcher’s life and from her daughter’s literacy life in order to construct stories that express the lived experience of an educator in the act of examining her own literacy theory-practice evolutionary process. Findings from this study can inform educators of the need to challenge their understandings of literacy theories in relation to their past and current literacy practices, enabling them to effectively construct their future practices.
literacy as social practice, longitudinal, pedagogical decisions, autoethnographic, parent researcher, teacher