“Not a Thing but a Doing”: Reconsidering Teacher Knowledge through Diffractive Storytelling
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This project is framed by a dilemma: representations of teaching practice are critical in teacher education, and yet the representations we rely on dangerously oversimplify teaching. My central questions emerge from this dilemma. In telling stories about teaching, how messy can the story be before it becomes unintelligible? Why does messiness matter and what does it produce for teachers-to-be? After examining both canonical accounts of teacher knowledge and emergent research that is productively disrupting the field, I draw on the work of Karen Barad to help me imagine both a new way of telling teaching stories, what I call diffractive storytelling, and a new way of thinking about their use in teacher education. In particular, I take up Barad’s concept of apparatus to consider what knowing is made possible by traditional teacher stories, what knowing is foreclosed, and what these possibilities and limitations mean for teacher education. Finally, I turn to other apparatuses at work in teacher education, especially standardized assessments such as edTPA, the new performance-based assessment of teacher readiness being implemented across the country. I argue that attending carefully to the apparatus-ness of the instruments used in teacher preparation allows us to contest the naturalization of narrow conceptions of teaching practice and sustains the paradox of holding to standards while resisting standardization.