Guided by my own experiences as an English teacher from a working-class background, I sought what Vagle & Jones (2012) term "a social, autobiographic, and pedagogical project" (p. 318), to understand, through autobiographical stories, how middle school and high school working-class English teachers from rural, suburban and urban contexts came to be teachers of English. In addition, I was interested in how their home lives and social class background influenced their career choice and how the participants describe their upward mobility and class passing in terms of their personal and professional lives. This qualitative study uses a Vygotskian (1978) sociocultural framework focusing on the mediation of tools, or artifacts, as avenue for meaning-making, as well as Holland et al (2001) as an anchor for theorizing the shifting negotiations of identity and social class as figured worlds. An interview study with embedded comparative case studies, the data were analyzed using narrative inquiry (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000) and critical event narrative analysis (Webster & Mertova, 2007) to mine the stories of the participants.Findings show that although all participants experienced similar trajectories, or a series of critical and like events (Webster & Mertova, 2007) to the middle class profession of teaching, two participants' trajectories enacted spaces of resistance within these common elements. One participant self-authored her own path to teaching after several well-timed interventions by school-related adults, whom I call social class brokers, a meme of Brandt's (1988) literacy sponsors. In addition, another participant used the cultural artifact of books--which she had previous viewed as a form of recreation--to leverage her entry into the teaching profession. The study also explains how the participants called on their sedimented identities (Rowsell & Pahl, 2007) to inform their day-to-day interactions with students.These findings reveal a need for social class-sensitive pedagogy (Jones & Vagle, 2013) and a better understanding of the ways in which social class vacillates and implicitly permeates virtually all classroom interactions. Specifically, this study has implications for teacher educators who are interested in ways to provide space for teacher candidates to have deeper and richer examinations of their own classed experiences in order to create the same type of space for the teacher candidates' future K-12 students.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2013. Major:Education, Curriculum and Instruction. Advisor: Dr. Cynthia Lewis. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 140 pages.
Jones, Heidi Jo.
Poor but not deficient: the storied lives of working-class English teachers.
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