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ERIC Number: EJ764563
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0022-0574
Into the Forest: The Teacher Heart of a Researcher
Fairbrother, Anne
Journal of Education, v185 n1 p39-45 2004
The author of this article was a teacher, who had taught high school English for seven years. Then she was a researcher, observing and interviewing, recording and reflecting. One incident, stretching over four class periods, took her back across that divide between teacher and researcher, and touched her personally. She was trying to understand the schooling experiences of 10th grade Hispanic students in lower-track English classes. From January to May she observed 29 times in Mr. Garcia's 10th grade class, at City High School, in a large school district in a city in the Southwest. She kept field notes of interactions between students and teacher, gathered materials, and conducted two interviews each with the teacher and with 13 students. She became accustomed to being in that classroom: sitting, watching, and chatting informally with the students. After the semester ended she returned to teaching for three years while writing up her research. The shift back from researcher to teacher was traumatic, as she tried to bridge theory and practice, the situated reality of the classroom and the ideal precepts of her studies. Looking back, this one incident was a foreshadowing of the trauma to come. As a researcher, it was easy to insist on the ideals of classroom practice. However she underestimated, she had forgotten, the urgent reality of the classroom. She would soon look at the teachers around her (and at herself?) and doubt their sincerity, wondering whether they were saving souls or deadening them, even as they bemoaned the constraints on their pedagogical possibilities. In this article, the author narrates and reflects on this incident wherein she felt the tension between her dual identity: researcher and teacher.
Boston University School of Education. 621 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215. Tel: 617-353-3230; Fax: 617-353-3924; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Grade 10; High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A