Welcome and Introduction to the Spring 2016 Issue of Kaleidoscope
Kaleidoscope generates and shares knowledge and stories crucial for strengthening the teaching profession and the improvement of education, particularly in STEM disciplines. We publish articles by KSTF Fellows and their collaborators that explore knowledge of, for, and about teaching—all through the prism of lived experience, both struggles and successes, in educational endeavors. In doing so, we support and make public the work of teachers and other education professionals developing deeper understandings of students, teaching, and ourselves as learners. Kaleidoscope provides a unique platform for writers and readers to investigate new ideas, provoke thoughtful reflection and dialogue, and effect change in teaching and educational practices.
We are humbled by, and grateful to, the writers in our community whose work we feature in the fourth issue, primarily because we know that the work of developing as an education professional can be messy, turbulent, or downright stormy. Uncertainty, in particular, can be disquieting. A common theme woven through the stories you’ll read here is how we develop self-awareness through uncertainty, whether that uncertainty is the task of documenting and sharing educational practices for a broader audience, learning to navigate a thorny classroom management situation, developing leadership identities, or discovering a jarring truth about one’s own beliefs in the system. It is often the challenges we face as educators, and our reflection on those challenges, that push us to grow as individuals for the benefit of our students and/or colleagues.
2014 KSTF Teaching Fellow Eric Rasmussen found himself struggling with classroom management early in his teaching career. Here, he describes how a restorative justice protocol helped his students make community connections within his science classroom. Rasmussen offers both a helpful narrative of the protocol’s implementation and a thought-provoking reflection on his own growth. His and his students’ experiences have much to teach us about the vital importance of classroom relationships in motivation and engagement.
Senior Fellow London Jenks was about to walk away in frustration and resignation from two struggling students in his classroom. What happened as a result transformed his teaching to place greater emphasis on the autonomy students hold and shifted his role from owner-of-knowledge to facilitator. Through describing his intellectual journey, Jenks urges us to look, deeply and critically, at the classroom experiences of our students.
KSTF Teaching Fellows Nicholas Chan, Sarah DiMaria, Brenda Minjares, Sheila Orr, Dwaina Screen, Allison Stafford, Sophie State, and Michelle Vanhala were inspired at the KSTF 2015 Summer Meeting by José Vilson’s call to action to make the work and craft of teaching more public. By participating in the #teach180 hashtag on Twitter, in which users provide a daily snapshot of their teaching practices and what students are doing in their classrooms, the authors found opportunities for reflection, building community, and reframing of difficult experiences. Their article, ending with their own call to action, highlights their use of an uncertain, very public medium as a vehicle for practicing and uncovering teacher voice.
KSTF Senior Fellows Heather Hotchkiss, David Streib, and Catherine Steinmetz chronicle how their initial assumptions about teacher agency were upturned as they embarked on a shared inquiry into leading from the classroom. Their realization that developing trust in collaborative relationships in their local contexts, as well as the themes that emerged during their investigation of what’s required to develop that trust, will be evocative for anyone in education who seeks a framework within which to develop agency.
Finally, KSTF Senior Fellow and outgoing Editorial Board member Scott Stambach documents his experiences working with Tibetan monks in India to develop their science understandings. His essay gives the reader a unique window into his cross-cultural journey, particularly his deepening understanding of his own role as a science educator and the meaning of science education in today’s world.
We proudly encourage readers to share this issue with teachers, students, and anyone else who is interested in education. If you have any comments or questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.