TEACHERS’ USE OF METAPHORS IN MAKING SENSE OF THE FIRST YEAR OF TEACHINGBrandy BarterJeff FowlerEDUC 8620: PracticumDr. DeCostaSept. 5, 2012
Introduction Mann wants to explore metaphor as a way of reflective teaching. How 1st year Ts use metaphor to make sense of their teaching. Do “root” metaphors change after the 1st year of teaching? Is the change based on teaching context?
Methodology Case study of five 1st year EFL teachers from the same MA program They wrote a “root” metaphor at the beginning of their MA program They had the option to modify their metaphor at the end of their MA program They communicated with the researcher via e- mail throughout their 1st year of teaching
John Root metaphor: shepard Modified metaphor: train conductor Emails: coaching a team, class tutor, policeman, custodial officer (running a prison). “…real children in real classrooms are not always lovable…” (Spencer, 1986, p. 10)
Izumi Root Metaphor: marketing researcher Was interested in CLT and TBL Modified metaphor: still marketing researcher Emails: manager, controller, students as difficult customers, horse pulling students forward (at the end of 1st year).
Tom Root metaphor: ship captain Revised metaphor: ship captain - w/ engineering skills Emails: keeping boat afloat, stormy, strong winds, hurricane, construction (house building & decorating) Children misunderstand the meaning of playing games... “They think that now is time to play only and not play and learn simultaneously” (p. 20).
Connie Root metaphor: farmer, classrooms as greenhouses (engaged in growing vegetables) Revised metaphor: still farmer Emails: growth, seeds, watering, feeding, replanting, mother
Carmen Root metaphor: actress, students as audience Revised metaphor: actress, comedian, magician Emails: cook, diet, exercise, mother “The more you exercise and get the food right, the best shape and physical condition you can develop for the students” (p. 22).
Findings Teachers use metaphors as “explanatory vehicles” (Block, 1996, p. 51) to articulate their difficulties, conflicts and tension in their 1st year. 1st year teachers often use metaphors related to balance (e.g. “finding my footing”). There is little evidence of root metaphors persisting (likely because they are created in the absence of context).
Conclusion Metaphors are not fixed Metaphors are dependent on context
Group Activity1. Individually, think of a teaching experience you’ve had and come up with a metaphor to suit that experience. Please brainstorm and then write a sentence or two to describe. (3 min.)You may want to start by using this prompt:The teacher is like…The language classroom is like…
Group Activity (continued)2. Individually answer this question: Do you believe that articulating your teaching experience through metaphor is a valuable component of reflective teaching? Why or why not? (3 min.)LAST QUESTION: a.) Individually answer this question: Do the words we use (i.e. metaphors) influence the way we think or teach? Why or why not? (1 min. to think, 3 min. to discuss with group). b.) Individually answer this question: Would you be comfortable sharing your metaphor with parents and administration? How would they likely respond? (1 min. to think, 3 min. to discuss with group).