Teaching as Research: Auto-ethnography of a Pioneering Bilingual Teacher Educator

Teaching as Research: Auto-ethnography of a Pioneering Bilingual Teacher Educator

Dr. Carmen Mercado, CUNY professor emeritus, talks with us about the importance of self-study, sharing diverse perspectives in class, and reflective writing in her own development and that of her students. She shares her experiences as one of the first bilingual classroom teachers and teacher educators in NYC. Carmen’s book, “Navigating teacher education in complex and uncertain times: connecting communities of practice in a borderless world,” was published in 2019.

Teaching as Research: Auto-ethnography of a Pioneering Bilingual Teacher Educator

 
 
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References

Overview

00:00-00:51 Intros

00:52-04:31 Teacher self-study

04:32-11:17 Relationships within the teacher ed classroom

11:18-14:10 Students’ reaction to process

14:11-15:09 Children’s involvement; Professional Staff Congress; grants

15:10-19:34 Children’s writing; parents

19:35-23:48 Teachers’ SEL

23:49-27:16 Impact on classroom teaching of children

27:17-30:47 Preparing teachers for diverse classrooms; using children’s literature

30:48-33:53 Stereotyping vs. cultural responsiveness

33:54-37:43 Auto-ethnography

37:44-39:08 Teacher educators’ ethical obligation towards teachers in their classroom

39:09-40:30 Outro

Transcript

Amy H: [00:00:15] I’m Amy Halpern-Laff.

Jon M: [00:00:16] And I’m Jon Moscow.  Welcome to Ethical Schools.

Amy H: [00:00:19] Our guest today is Dr. Carmen Mercado, a pioneer among Puerto Rican and bilingual educators in New York City. Carmen is a literacy educator whose formal preparation began in a small experimental dual language school in the Bronx in 1969 Carmen’s book, Navigating Teacher Education in Complex and Uncertain Times:  Connecting Communities of Practice in a Borderless World, was published in 2019. Welcome, Carmen.

Carmen M: [00:00:50] Thank you. Happy to be here. 

Jon M: [00:00:52] In your writing, you emphasize the importance of teacher self study. What do you mean by self study and what does this look like in a teacher education class? 

Carmen M: [00:01:03] Well, in teacher education, typically the teacher educator is considered the expert, and those who sit in front of us are the learners. I don’t believe that, you know, I learned a lot from my students, and over time I become a better teacher through those interactions with my students. So it’s not me being the expert and they being the learners, but together collaborating, we can learn together. However, the research part comes in through writing because we do have a lot of conversations and unless we maintain some kind of record in writing, brief  summaries of the exchanges that we’ve had each time we meet, we then use those comments to share them together, both anonymously and publicly for those who wish to do so. I sometimes make summaries of comments that provoked me and I deliberately take a range of comments, acknowledging that we have diverse points of view and it’s in that diversity that we learn once we share them in class. There’s another reflection on that. It’s an ongoing process. It’s a constant ongoing process where you’re thinking or recording. Capturing the thoughts that are important to you over time and looking at them in retrospect to see how that may have informed you or you learned something new about yourself and others.

That basically is what practice is in my class. It’s not imposing a particular way of doing things. It’s coming together. It’s in this understanding of coming together over time. Through writing first, because it’s also a literacy course, so I have to show the uses of literacy for thinking. After the session is over, I reread and make brief comments and make summaries of different comments that were made, and so that serves as a basis for further conversations.

The next session, sometimes we have experiences. For example, when we do teaching in Spanish, when I immerse the class in Spanish. And so, uh, when we have experiences like that, the experiences first, then there’s the written reflection on the experience, and then there is the sharing of that reflection in the same session.

So, so it doesn’t, this practice of engaging in the writing and conversations is not always that linear process of writing first, then sharing and then having conversations about it. Sometimes they don’t experience, and this is a learning that I had.  Because when I started at teaching, I taught a two and a half hour class, much of it in a lecture type exchange because that’s what was expected of me, that I was supposed to give the students knowledge, but I learned very quickly over time that that was not an effective way to teach.

And so, you know, being experimental as I am and being a risk taker, I started this practice. Basically inspired by someone whose work I read in a Harvard Ed Review article with Eleanor Duckworth. And so it’s hard to talk about it because it’s complex and it changes over time, but what doesn’t change over time is this actual learning from each other and the kinds of comments that students make and the kinds of understandings that I gained.

Jon M: [00:04:32] So let me, let me ask you. You had a long and distinguished career. You’re now a professor emeritus at CUNY, so in this time period, and as you reflect back, how did you find that the self study and the reflective writing, how does this facilitate relationships in the classroom, both between you as the teacher of the teachers and among your students themselves? Can you give us some examples of how this might play out in terms of some of the dynamics? 

Carmen M: [00:05:08] This is a really important question because first of all, there were only two professors of Puerto Rican origin in my department, and therefore, not only were we different in our background and our experiences, we were different in terms of the knowledge base that we brought to teaching.

I started teaching at Hunter when we had an explosion of research, much of it ethnographic, coming from the Southwest, but as an educator, I was concerned about  who I was as a different professor in the department, who had a different background, but it was also the intellectual power that I brought to the class in terms of research that was being done that was not familiar to the faculty in the department. I was familiar with this new resource because the person that I worked for was somebody who had a big role in NIE, the National Institute of Education, in setting the research   agenda for bilingual ed. Realizing that I was presenting information that was different, that I was different in terms of my perspective and my experiences, et cetera.

I needed to understand how my students were reading me. And let me tell you something. One of the things that I learned from looking at these reflections over time, you could see the struggle that some of them were going through, in part because I didn’t read a chapter from a book and have them answer questions on a quiz or whatever. We engaged in the conversation over the content. So that part was different. I was different because of the experiences that I brought in. I taught in a bilingual school. Nobody else at the time, other than a colleague of mine, had those experiences. They had other experiences, but the children that we were concerned about were from homes where languages other than English were spoken. 

The research process allowed me to  kind of push the boundaries of what was possible, but at the same time, being sensitive to how the students were reading me. If I have a goal that might be admirable or honorable, if it’s not being read that way, then it doesn’t create the possibility for mutual change and growth.

Amy H: [00:07:25] Could you give us some idea of sort of specifically might look like, for example, a student might be grappling with?

Carmen M: [00:07:35] Okay. First they grappled with a lot of my whole approach. I was adjunct for 10 years, but I started as full time faculty member in 1988. And I don’t know what my colleagues did. I made the mistake of not investigating what my colleagues were doing.

I believe in academic freedom. And so that’s the hard part about this whole struggle. Yet from the students, writing is very atypical. nontraditional, nonconventional and then they would say that they came into class they weren’t expecting to be forced to think, not to sit back and take notes. And to have to engage in an exchange. But some of those students and one in particular. You know, she was very clear. I really appreciated her honesty. She said  I’m really having a problem here and, but over time there came, there was an understanding. It really took sometimes the whole semester for it to all come together, but there were relationships that were crafted as a result of that exchange and of understanding what I was trying to accomplish to prepare them for the classroom.

I can tell you that I didn’t have the same success with everyone. There was one student who called me a racist. I think I shared it publicly the first time, and honestly, of course, at a teacher college, a book talk, but there were a few of them like that that never really, not even gave themselves to understanding what we were trying to accomplish together. And then I realized one thing. Many of our teachers are women. They have children at home. I mean, it’s not an excuse for not engaging, but they come to Hunter after putting  in a full day of work. They have all sorts of responsibilities that they have to comply with, as it were, and doing it differently was adding to their burden.

Now, it didn’t mean that I had to change, but I had to find a way to be a little less demanding without watering down the curriculum, because I taught a course that was two hours and 30 minutes long. It was two hours and 45 minutes and we had a 15 minute break. And coming to class, mostly after four or after seven, you can imagine how it was for, especially the women. I became very sensitive to the women in the group that had children, who were really trying hard and it was really exhausting for them, but there were some who never changed, I mean, a few who really were fixed in their view. Because it just didn’t have, the schemas that we had were different and you have to negotiate that and you have to give yourself to working with it in the same way that I did. I gave myself to try to understand who my students were and they gave themselves to try and understand what I was trying to accomplish and over time I could see. I mean, I have gone through these, these written statements many times for many different reasons. For both, for summaries of each year, for my own promotional moments when I went from a first time professor, non-tenure to tenure to full time. Every time I went through this process, I would go back to look at these documents. But in that process, I also learned a lot about myself, about what some might consider noble goals, but at the same time, we have to be humane in terms of how we do things, because, as I said, most of our students are women. Most of the collaborators in my class were females. 

Jon M: [00:11:18] I can imagine that on the one hand, for people who’ve been working all day and then you know, coming to a long class, that being pushed to engage on the one hand could be exhausting. On the other hand, I can also imagine that it could be for, and it sounds as though for many of your students was also refreshing because they weren’t just being asked to sit there and take notes and you know, sort of be passive, but you were inviting them to be very active and to be in very lively conversations. So I can imagine that, you know, a lot of people would have come out of class tired, but also, I dunno, exuberant or exhilarated by the whole process. Is that one of the things that you found in your notes? 

Carmen M: [00:12:11] That is definitely something, and part of the comments had to do with the fact that I had real life experiences in the classrooms, that they were being prepared to teach. I was in classrooms regardless of whether I had to be there or not. I prefer to be in a classroom where there are children surrounded by children than being in a faculty meeting surrounded by adults, sometimes talking things that don’t seem to to have much relevance to our work with teachers. So it’s the understanding that I had real world experiences as an elementary school teacher.

Jon M: [00:12:44] So how did that play out? So for example, how were you able to take something that you had had to do or worry about or solve in your own classroom with children and bring that to a teacher education class? And then how did the adult students respond to that? 

Carmen M: [00:13:02] The mediators were the students or the children that I work with in the school, because I also had their writings. I had activities that we had engaged in, and I also had evidence from, if I only had three examples of writing, I’m showing you three fingers here, but you can’t see that. If I have three examples from one child, and within the span of four months, you saw a radical difference in that child’s expressiveness in written language that wasn’t because I was teaching it. It was because I engaged them in something that was meaningful to them. Those writings proved to be probably the most powerful educator.

That we can have, which is why part of the book is about breaking these boundaries that we have. We have to have more fluid borders between the schools, the homes, and our classrooms in higher ed. Some of these students came to speak in my courses, so not only were their writings part of the curriculum, but they came to give advice to the teachers.

Jon M: [00:14:11] So the children came?

Carmen M: [00:14:12] Yes. I had students ranging in age from 11 to 14, some of them multiple holdovers in kindergarten because they spoke Spanish at home. This was the school, by the way, that Kozol studied, in the Bronx.

Jon M: [00:14:27] This was in District 10 that Jonathan Kozol was ..Savage Inequalities?

Carmen M: [00:14:33] Exactly. I found this out after I had done the work. They went to speak at the ethnography forum. Fred Erickson wrote to these children, I mean, this is the kind of relationship that we had, and we broke the borders because many of these kids didn’t come out of the Bronx. Just taking them to Fordham University to speak at a conference. You know, we always did conferences together. That was just a big thing for them. They went to Pennsylvania, they went to Boston. They went to with very little money. By the way, I used the PSC CUNY, which gives me what, probably a total of $10,000 over a period of time. 

Jon M: [00:15:10] PSC is the Professional Staff Congress  for people who don’t know.

Carmen M: [00:15:14] That’s exactly it. It’s our union and they sponsor. It’s small scale. Quite frankly, I worked with a lot of funded programs before I became a new professor at Hunter, and I was tired of having to write proposals to get the money. You have to say what the funder wants, and you have limited ability to really do what you want to do. So for the sake of getting the money, you kind of sell your soul, as it were. So I had these small grants, but with these small grants, we did a lot. 

The other side of the story you have to know is that there’s a little boy that I always share his writings because he was the one who brought me in. I said, I cannot believe that a sixth grader has gotten to this point, and this is the way he writes. I can’t describe it, but it was shocking to me. It looked like he hadn’t been in school, and this same young man, he changed drastically in a matter of four months and the students could not believe because the handwriting was different. The level of thinking was different. There was, this was all first draft.

These kids, the writing of these children really were the critical factor as well as by relating the stories of what we did, because then the teachers started to bring writings and to share with others, to have them have them. Just look at what three different samples of writing can look like if the kids are engaged in what they are doing, and writing is critical.

Writing is really misunderstood, too much attention to errors. The adult learners came in to say, I thought I was going to learn how to correct children’s writing and sort of learning about why children speak the way they do. You know? And so that was the message. You know, the experiences were so powerful that even writings from 1990 impacted.

The teachers in classes that I had in 2010 and I do quote in the book for those moments when they said, you know, uh, that they, they were touched, they learned. And it felt that the words were, because I had heard the emotions that went with the words, so I knew that it was not just something to tell me to placate me or to say what the right thing is for me.

You know, parents came to conferences with us. The only way to have these relationships is to have situations that bring us together. We wouldn’t go on trips without having a parent to volunteer, and we paid for their stay if we stayed at a hotel, we paid for their expenses, etc. So those experiences spoke volumes.

Then if they read something in one of the academic articles, then it drew them in. As opposed to what I did first was what we read, the academic articles, because that’s what I was told to do by, by my supervisors when I started. And then if you have time, you’re  supposed to have a field based assignment, but we never really got to doing that kind of application in the way it required more time. It’s not something you do as an afterthought to having read the article. So I didn’t neglect the so called the knowledge base that they’re supposed to have because I always did summaries for the students. That’s what I could quote in my book. Something about some researcher talking about reading to children because it’s fresh in my mind because I wrote about it in the session notes that I prepared for my students and you can’t do this kind of book unless you have the documentation over time.

Yeah, and I think that it’s not something you could do at the last minute. It has to be something you’re doing consistently, whether you do it the same exact way or not. But the writing, the capturing and writing, the having the conversations, the reflecting on what you did together and to see that we were mutually learning was a really the practice, understanding how our practice attains the goals that we value. That’s chemistry. It’s through this research that I have become in touch with group in Europe that is doing what they call action research, which  is more like teacher research or the kind of teaching as research that I’ve been doing.

Anyway, I have a hard time with interviews because I just make these connections as I’m talking and it’s hard.

Amy H: [00:19:35] No, that’s great. We’re so interested. I had a question about what we. typically talk about as social emotional learning, SEL, and it sounds to me, so you’re concerned not just with students’ SEL but also with their teachers’ social emotional learning. Am I reading you correctly? 

You know, I go out of, I have to say it this way because sometimes you know, you’re exhausted. I go out of my way to be there for my students. To, if they call me, I give them my home number. I give them my email. If they write me an email, I respond immediately. I want to show them that they are important and that I want to respond to their concerns.

I do that because many of them are not used to that. You know, they’re not used to having somebody respond, but also because the relationship that I develop with those adults is supposed to affect the relationship that they have with their students. If they don’t see that.  but you know, demonstrate it. I hate to use the word model because this is genuine. No matter how tired I am, I do it because I know that I’m trying to let them see that this is a way of relating. We can’t do any teaching. And again, I hate the word teaching. We can’t do any kind of interactive learning from each other unless you are open emotionally and intellectually to what someone else is sharing with you and that you are sharing with them.

I think it’s harder for adults who have their [inaudible] because they’re expected in some cases, to say the right thing to the instructors that they have and they have a groping for the right words to say things. When all I want to do is hear them, I want to hear what they’re thinking genuinely, and I think it’s in that relationship. If they tell me, if somebody comes to me later, and I have a sense that that relationship that I struggle to build, because sometimes someone had to put more energy in in order to get the energy back. If I, if I make myself clear, that was a way of showing that children also need that. You know, rather than talking about it, it’s, it becomes a way of relating and then bringing the children in and legitimizing them as individuals who can share understandings that will help teachers to teach is another way to build relationships. I have a whole bunch of quotes that I’ve shared. I had, not all of them.

I have, I shared with Jon. There are too many, but you know, when you hear the actual words. Well, like I shared a quote about, “it’s not about what you had to teach me, it’s about what I had to learn.” That’s a powerful quote. You know, and I have a lot of quotes like that, that show that there was some impact. But how did that learning come about was not by focusing just on the intellectual content of the curriculum. It’s  also the relational aspect that is often neglected. 

Jon M: [00:22:41] So what do you see as the emotional dimensions of learning to teach?  And do you feel that teachers are generally adequately prepared for the emotional dimensions?

Carmen M: [00:22:55] What I discovered is that people had had very  difficult experiences. They had to say the right thing. In some classes they had to say the right thing, that they couldn’t necessarily express what they believed. They had to say what the instructor wanted them to say. And that creates insecurity about what you know. You have to feel safe to allow yourself to engage emotionally and intellectually. Plus, I’m constantly reading. I’m constantly looking, you know, when I’m teaching, I’m not looking at the board or the papers. I’m looking at what is happening as I’m talking. And, and that doesn’t happen again as often because people come in with their scripts and they’re obligated actually in some cases because students have to take these different tests to get their certification. And so we’re held responsible if they don’t do well on the tests. 

Jon M: [00:23:49] As you’re describing this, do you see the teachers that you’re teaching carrying this forward into their classrooms with children? I mean, you’re describing this kind of very personal, interactive relationship with emotional elements to it, between you and the teachers who are your students, so how does this translate when those teachers are in their classrooms with children and their families? Do you get a sense of how that works?

Carmen M: [00:24:18] In some cases I hear positive stories, but yes, I have heard stories about how the school expects them to relate to the families and the children. In other words, in some cases, that whole disciplinary aspect of when you discipline children and how you discipline them is that marker of being a good teacher.

And in some of our courses that was, you know, a big to do about how you engage in in disciplinary practices. I didn’t have time for that. I prefer to talk about relational practices or to engage in them as opposed to talking about them. But yes, that aspect of huh, we’re learning to do this here, but when we go to the schools, the principal is expecting us to do such and such. And so even in a district where we had, as a school, we had a very close relationship with, that they were expected to come in preparing to discipline children in the most stereotypical way as opposed to getting them to relate to you and engage in what they have to do, but not through necessarily that harsh disciplinary approach that Haberman talks about so very well. I just can’t repeat it right now. You know, the popping from the board, the standing out on line, things like that. Those are the kinds of disciplinary practices that at least were pervasive even until the retirement age. So I’m assuming that that is still the case and maybe even worse. I mean, we’ve seen terrible videos on the news of how individual adults, whether they’re the teachers or some, the guard treats children harshly. You know, just recently a little girl here in Florida who’s going to be taken to a, some kind of a clinic for emotionally disturbed children when that was not her problem. But that’s, that’s how extreme it’s gotten today in some schools, 

How do we engage not only with other faculties, but as a program come together to have some common understandings? You know, because truly in a large school of ed where I worked, it was hard to get that common understanding. And so we save our energy. I try to save my energy for the things that I did. And now in retrospect, I said I should have given more time to opening those doors to other faculty individually and in meetings. You know, not necessarily by preaching what I did, but just to share our work and to talk about it. The only time we shared our work was when somebody came in to observe us and we talked about what we did and why we did it. 

Jon M: [00:27:17] This is a slightly different question, but how can teacher ed programs prepare teachers to work in classrooms, in schools with children coming from a wide range of cultural and linguistic backgrounds?

Carmen M: [00:27:30] Do you know the first place where you could do that in the groups that were getting , in teacher preparation.? We have a lot of diversity in teacher preparation, but not necessarily local diversity. It’s global diversity. And so I was always fascinated with the students that I had. I had actors, somebody from Africa who worked at the U N in the abuse of children. And so if we stopped to look at who are these adults in our classrooms, we begin to see the richness that they bring to the course. And the stereotype that they’re all middle-class from the suburbs is not true today. And so it begins with our appreciation and calling attention to it in our own courses, you know?

And then, yes, I found, for example, I taught children’s literature. Children’s literature is magnificent for showing the diversity of experiences that children can have. I had a lot of books on Latino children from the border, but I also had it from other places that that showed the range of diversity that children represent when they come to our classrooms. But to do it by way of children’s literature was an exceptionally wonderful approach to doing that because what is hard when you’re dealing with the diversity of the children in the classroom is that you can have stereotypical notions about, aha, this child comes from Puerto Rico. This is what we can expect. Or that child comes from the Dominican or Mexican, and this is what, there’s such diversity. I was born in Puerto Rico. Most of my friends when I was growing up were Jewish. Most of my teachers were Jewish. I think I spent more time with Jews, both, you know, in school and out. Then most Puerto Ricans, so you can’t stereotype, and we have too much of that, so want to break those stereotypes. But we begin by allowing the diversity that’s in our classrooms, whether they come from another state. I mean, you know, they don’t all come from the suburbs of New York. They can come from another state and, and the experiences that they have, and let that… That’s the beginning. I always like to take natural situations that have diversity and also, you know, the range of diversity that we have. It’s not just linguistic, it’s religious. It’s name it. We have a lot of diversity, but make it look visible and positive in our courses. As a first step, acknowledging the diversity that exists in the classrooms, and then bringing in books that have all of these different representations. One of my favorite books was the story of Rachel Carson. I love Rachel Carson. She’s a scientist. She’s a woman. But there’s a quote in that book on Rachel that comes from a German scientist who went to Latin America and he was beloved by the native population in Latin America. And so I chose that book because of the possibilities that it gave me of what to bring in.

You see, the emotional factor goes up in terms of the positive effects that the books can have. You have to see what materials are going to bring into to make this come to life. 

Amy H: [00:30:48] Carmen, do you find that there’s a tension between sort of stereotyping on the one side and cultural competence on the other?

Carmen M: [00:30:59] Yeah, there is definitely stereotyping. There is definitely stereotyping. Now what? How would you define cultural competence?

Amy H: [00:31:07] Well, for example, in the new culturally sustaining framework in New York State, there is an emphasis on understanding children’s cultures and actually teaching to that culture. In other words, that where the student is coming from has a lot to do with how that student can learn. 

Carmen M: [00:31:35] Well because of the range of diversity that I experienced. I have a hard time with that, you know, I mean, it’s, it’s in the hands of someone who knows that there’s a range of diversity. So when you’re reading what is said, they could look at it more critically and thoughtfully as opposed to trying to implement it.

I cannot think of a situation right now, but there are so many situations. I can give you one from my last class. There was a young woman who had studied in one of the Asian countries or the Middle East. I can’t remember where it was, but she went to a private school. She did not look like some of the undergraduate students that I had who had a totally different background. If you think, okay, they’re coming from the same region, they’re going to be, you know, there’s going to be a lot of common. No, there are class differences. There are even racial, you know, racial differences. The, the dress. There’s so many differences and people come from that are associated with the same cultural group that it’s dangerous to have that kind of of thinking, I think, but I think what they’re looking for, if the talks from the State, what they’re looking for is to show that they’re trying to address the problem that that’s the best way I can think of is that there’s that there’s a need to get to know the diversity of students.

How do you make that manageable to  individuals who are coming in, who are new, who have so much to understand. If you’re an attentive observer and listener, you will soon learn the great diversity that is in your classroom. But you have to understand that just because we come from the same part of the world, we’re not all the same. Or even from a small Island like Puerto Rico , we’re not all the same. And so, and, and even the kind of Spanish we speak is different, you know? So. So yes, it’s just a little troublesome when we have ways of trying to simplify complexity when what it takes is really more of that getting to know these different individuals who are here. How wonderful to create opportunities to learn from each other about what we each can contribute to the other. I mean, it’s easier said than done. I know, but I have a hard time with any kind of approach that tries to simplify complexity.

Amy H: [00:33:54] Carmen, you call your recent book an auto ethnography. What is an auto ethnography?

Carmen M: [00:34:01] I have been shaped by the thinking of historians at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies. In fact, our current chancellor of CUNY was someone who affected me deeply when he was at Hunter College Centro. And what he showed me was we have to look at how the individual shapes history and history shapes us. Now, that was really what motivated the way I did the book. When my editor read it, he identified it as auto ethnography because of the way I documented my professional experiences and because I historicized myself. I put myself in history as an agent and as someone who is shaped by history. In other words, when we came from Puerto Rico, we came under certain circumstances. If I hadn’t had that experience, I can tell you that was probably one of the most [inaudible] experiences shaping my thinking as an educator. So it’s like an auto ethnography, a self, you’re writing about yourself in history, but you have to put yourself in history, not just as being shaped by history, but you’re shaping history.

And I think that’s one of the ideas that I captured or try to capture in the book as I went through these different periods in which policies and schools and the number of teachers who were Spanish speaking teachers in the system. It changed over time. I had never seen a Puerto Rican educator until I went to teach at [inaudible]. In all of my life, you know, as a student, it was then that I was exposed to that. So this auto ethnography is my life in history. But I make it public as an act of agency and a way to address issues of social justice, which is a part of critical auto ethnography because we don’t know too much about our experiences in our work as educators, it’s like I wanted to lift the curtain and show the struggles as much as I can show the struggles as well as show what I learned from my students and not to have stereotypic, you know, representations of the adults who I encountered in my courses and who changed me in the same way that I may have changed some of them.

So it is because, the fact that it exists now, I would hope, is a way to engage others in considering how they would document or how they could start documenting what they do as an educator. Because truly we are living in hard times. So those of us who are in higher education, a lot of young people finish the doctorates and they’re not going to get a promotion. They’re not going to get any tenured position. They have to almost work hard to prove that they deserve a place at the table. And part of doing that is, you know, I did it because I was curious, but I also knew that I was vulnerable. I’ll have to show why my ratings in my courses fluctuated from very high to middling to some low. And so I had to show that I was trying to also understand what my students’ concerns were and respond to them. I mean that that wasn’t the primary motive, but I certainly had to do that. And I think a lot of young scholars who are finishing up their doctorates and are going into, especially to becoming teacher educators, they have to know how to also protect themselves. 

Jon M: [00:37:44] So that leads into the question of what do you see as teacher educators’ ethical obligations towards the teachers in your classes? 

Carmen M: [00:37:55] You know, I consider that I went, I don’t want to say bent over backwards, to make sure that I was attentive to the needs of all my students. But you see some individual struggling because they’ve had certain experiences and they’re trying to understand in the same way that I’m trying to understand. And so it’s that struggling together to understand, opening up the space for that. And that’s where the writing, the reflective writing, really played a role. Because if a student said something that might have sounded critical of something I did, I would legitimize it. Not in a negative, you know, it was part of the quotes that I selected because I wanted us to talk about it as a class. It was anonymous when I did those quotes, but it’s the point is that it’s that kind of openness to being critical of oneself. In a collaborative way with others ,that generates that kind of trying to understand each other and learn from each other. And I don’t think we do enough of that, because it takes time to be ethical because you’re responding to their needs in the same way that you want them to respond to the needs of the children. You just have to say, that’s my priority. 

Jon M: [00:39:09] This is fascinating listening. Thank you so much. ,

Amy H: [00:39:14] Thank you listeners for joining us. Check out our website for more episodes and articles. We’ve Began to post annotated transcripts of our interviews to make them more useful in teacher education classes and workshops.

We offer professional development on social emotional learning and ethics in the New York City area. Contact us at hosts@ethicalstools.org. We’re on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @ethicalchools. Our editor and social media manager is Amanda Denti. Till next week.15