Out of Our Experience: Useful Theory by Sheila Clawson, Marion S. MacLean, Marian M. Mohr, Mary Ann Nocerino, Courtney Rogers, and Betsy Sanford

“Because all six of us are white, native English-speaking, and women, we had long worked, us teachers, to become better informed about the diversity of our students and colleagues. We knew that social and cultural influences were always present in our research as well as our classrooms” (Clawson).


I wanted to continue with the idea of the teacher-learning and student-learning articles that have discussed pedagogies. This particular article has a very strong voice coming from a teacher. Multiple teachers give their ideas, thoughts, and research methods when it came down to using theory in the classroom. By the article being broken down into different sections, it was clear to see various views coming from these teachers.

As I mentioned before, I appreciated the fact that there were multiple authors who worked together for this article. What I found interesting was that they were all white women and actually wanted to learn how to apply diversity to their teachings. As a female student of color, I thought this was a step forward. Even if someone can’t relate to me, it is appreciated to teach lessons that can relate to me or my peers. They offered a new insight and new terms that I thought was interesting. “Betsy Sanford calls it an ‘organizing principle’, a framework from which to try our new practices and collect new data” (Clawson). There needs to be room for learning for teachers as well, not only the students. If that were the case, teachers would be out of a job and students would teach themselves.

If I had teachers growing up who were willing to learning as much as these authors and teachers, then I feel as if my education experience would have been completely different. They actually wanted to connect what they were learning and apply it into the classroom and the lessons they were teaching. This almost reminds me of the previous article that we read about “Bring the Funk” by Heather Bastian. Learning how to be creative and trying something new in the classroom can impact students. “Respect for our learner in a teaching-learning situation is complicated, and we were aware that our lives and the lives of our students and colleagues were different in many ways” (Sandford). This was absolutely amazing to me because one of the first step into understanding someone else is being aware that they are different from you and that they had and will go through things in their lives that are completely different from yours. These teachers, in fact, did apply theories to their experience and research. That made it easier for me to believe. “Because of the experiences we have already described and the theorists and researchers we have mentioned, the research in our schools leaned heavily toward adaptations of qualitative and ethnographic methodology” (Clawson). Once a teacher not only understands that but is aware of that, then there can be a different complex in the classroom.

Reprinted from Teacher Researchers for Better Schools. (New York/Berkeley: Teachers College Press and the National Writing Project, copyright 2004 by Teachers College, Columbia University. All rights reserved.), pp. 9-22.


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