By: Alison Lutton
Wow — I just read the articles “Finding our Voice through Narrative Inquiry” by Renetta Goeson and the accompanying article, “The Power of Narrative Inquiry to Transform both Teacher and Mentor,” by Andy Stremmel in the latest volume of NAEYC’s online peer-reviewed journal, Voices of Practitioners, and they are incredible!
They caught my eye because I have been helping states think about what is shared or "core" in knowledge and competencies for early childhood professionals across states, cultures, and sectors of our profession (child care, Head Start and PreK through third grade). I've also been thinking about the role of higher education degrees. They are about developing professional knowledge and competencies but also about so much more. Renetta’s narrative inquiry — in which she explores her own experience growing up on her reservation, Lake Traverse, and her later experiences as a teacher and Tribal Head Start program director — offers valuable insights into the ways that cultural identity and cultural conflict shape the role of the teacher and the image of the child in her Dakota community.
Here's the opening paragraph of Renetta's article: As a director of a tribal Head Start program in South Dakota, I encountered problematic and often contradictory tensions centered on my roles as an early childhood program director, a graduate student at South Dakota State University, and a Native American female seeking to change current constructions of what it means to educate young children in my culture. My goal at the outset of this exploration was to construct a better understanding of how the historical and cultural experiences of my tribal community have influenced current views of early childhood education on my reservation, Lake Traverse.
Andy’s article is about Renetta’s teacher research and how his work with Renetta as mentor and collaborator has been important for his own professional growth.
This is from the opening of Andy's accompanying article:
For a number of years I have worked with Renetta in various capacities as a mentor, a teacher, and a collaborator. During most of this time, she has been the director of a tribal Head Start program in northeastern South Dakota. We have made several presentations together at NAEYC and Native American conferences, telling and retelling the story of her program’s evolution to what has become known as the Sisseton Wahpeton Approach to Early Childhood Education, a Reggio-inspired approach based on the Twelve Virtues of the Oyate (“people”). The journey to reclaiming these virtues and making them the core of the curriculum has not been easy, as Renetta makes clear in her narrative.
Both of these articles are from NAEYC’s new Parallel Voices feature, which pairs a teacher’s own research study with commentary on the teacher research by a supporting teacher educator.
These articles, Voices of Practitioners and its Parallel Voices feature really demonstrate what good teacher education looks like, what real world teacher educators do, and that college degrees are about so much more than skill and competency development.
These are just some of the teacher research studies in the latest Voices of Practitioners that are worth checking out if you get the chance.
Have you read any articles from Voices yet? Which articles spoke to you?
Alison Lutton is the Sr. Higher Education Specialist for Program Recognition and Support at NAEYC