Indiana Reading Journal Volume 44 Issue 1 - Page 14


Data Analysis

The first step of my data analysis was a construction of an overview of Jane’s teaching life, which served as a member check. The second step informed by Lightfoot and Davis (1997) was the identification of broad themes. Third, using as much of the teacher’s words as possible, from multiple data sources, I constructed representative refrains (much like vignettes) “a driving current that flows through each life journey” (Lightfoot & Davis, 1997, p. 197). This part of the process allowed me to further my analysis by pulling back a bit and looking for the larger ideas or threads that ran through the data. An example of this was found in Jane’s interviews: She repeatedly returned to the topic of her fear of teacher evaluations, which resulted in the creation of a refrain about this. In the fourth step, these refrains were analyzed by identifying tones and deeper themes of each which resulted in identification of teaching metaphors. Lastly, I summarized the findings across a pair of refrains and looked across the alignments or tensions of the refrains by answering the question, does Jane accept, smooth over, or rewrite her dominant story of school? This question was inspired by the 2010 work of Clandinin, Murphy, Huber, and Murray and their exploration of the administrative focus placed on a test mandated by the Ontario Ministry of Education. complexity” (p. 87). I examined these kinds of tensions in Jane’s stories. For my work, I decided to develop my own definitions of accepting, smoothing over, and rewriting the tensions that conflicting stories fostered in the lives of teachers-

• Accepted: passively went along (much like accepting all changes);

• Smoothed over: found small ways to be true to self while pleasing all; and

• Rewrote- found ways to do differently than the school story.


Each time we met, Jane and I were seated at a kidney shaped table in the back of her classroom. About twenty-five empty desks with navy blue chairs surrounded us. Although the chairs were empty, Jane often glanced toward them and referred to them as if the third graders were with us in the room. The walls were colorfully decorated with typical classroom pocket charts, lists, and posters. The counter near us had several stacks of textbooks. Jane’s desk was across the room from us.

At the time of our interviews, Jane was in her mid-40s, and from our first meeting seemed eager to share her past experiences as a teacher. She was equally willing to share about her current experiences and concerns in her classroom, as well as to inform me of the life events which led up to her being in this classroom. In each of our meetings there were tears and laughter. I was pleased that Jane so quickly felt she could trust me with her important stories and insights.

The interview sessions with Jane were very intense. She was passionate about talking about her career and her students. The most salient themes were (a) fear of teacher evaluation; (b) outside influences on instruction, and (c) fond memories. For this article, I selected one pair of critical events about outside influence on instruction to construct representative stories, which I viewed as salient refrains of Jane’s teaching life. I chose these events because of the strong emotion evoked when Jane talked about these topics and because of the frequency of the topics occurring.

Jane’s Role Shifts as a Teacher: Teacher as Facilitator of Learning vs. Teacher as Warrior of Small Battles

In this section you will read a pair of refrains, with Jane’s words italicized, representing the tensions paired by early memories of her career and her current practice around the topic of curricular decision-making. Next, I will discuss the analysis of these refrains though the tone, deeper theme, and metaphor analysis, as well as discuss the tensions, methods of coping with these tensions, and their relationship back to the literature.