I researched the use of students’ personal narratives in an upgrading English classroom. The technique facilitated the creation of a rich learning climate that the students identified as significant. I wonder if this technique can be used in other settings? Would it work in a one-on-one tutoring situation? Could it be adapted to work in self-paced or drop-in learning environments?
The technique seemed particularly well suited to introducing English content items as well as developing the kind of classroom atmosphere where uninhibited, deep discussions around literary analysis could take place. I wonder if this technique can be used with positive effects in other classroom based subjects. Would it work as effectively in a math or physics class? What kinds of narrative topics could be generated that would raise significant content issues in those classes?
The question that excites me the most is about how else this technique can be used. If the use of personal narratives helps students to be seen and subsequently enhances their learning, can this technique be used with instructors? Can instructors, through telling personal narratives about their teaching experiences, explore and clarify their own teaching philosophies and subsequently enhance their practice? If one of the ways practitioners engage in a ‘discourse’ with the content in the field is through verbal discussion with one another, can this way of knowing be utilized to contribute to knowledge in the field? Can part of our literature review be our personal narrative review?
As I make the final revisions on this research report I am filled with a sense of relief and satisfaction. Being involved as a practitioner-researcher for the past five years has enriched my personal and professional life much more than I could have imagined. Examining the work that practitioners do in our classrooms and sharing the results are challenging and immensely rewarding experiences. The semester that I researched the use of students’ personal narratives in the classroom was one of the most fulfilling of my teaching career. More fully than I ever had before, I saw the students, their lives, their thoughts, ideas and their learning needs. I also saw myself as an instructor and as a participant in the learning in a way I hadn’t before. As for the students, they each saw themselves more clearly; they saw each other and they all saw themselves as part of a learning community. This capacity to see enhanced the depth and breadth of learning for all of us.