Student-Teacher Narratives: Teaching at the Intersection of Identities

Textbook imageby James Fortney, Instructional Developer, Reinert Center       

Reading personal narratives about teaching is a powerful way to reflect on the more visceral dimensions of our work. I am particularly drawn to narratives that attend to matters of difference in teaching, as both a topic of inquiry and an embodied presence in our classrooms. As Leda Cooks and John Warren (2011) observe, “Many scholars writing about schooling and the body do so from positions of marginality and struggle, but with the allowance that these positions provide openings into other ways of knowing that are, ultimately, pedagogical” (p. 212). I find these personal accounts challenge me to confront the limits of how I teach while also helping me develop strategies to meet these challenges.

Below, I recommend three pieces that invite this type of critical development for teaching. Included is a detailed abstract for each article and a link to the full-text. A common theme across these readings is the intersection of marginalized student-teacher identities and experiences, offering a more relational approach to how we think about (and consequently do) pedagogy. These are compelling reads for anyone wishing to deepen their understanding of diversity and practice of inclusive teaching.

If you would like to discuss these readings and how they might inform your own teaching, please contact the Reinert Center to schedule an individual consultation. Please also share your reactions in the comments section below. Happy summer reading!

Hao, R. N. (2011). Rethinking critical pedagogy: Implications on silence and silent bodies. Text and Performance Quarterly, 31, 267-284.

“Many critical pedagogy scholars claim that agency and dialogue in the classroom can only be achieved through students’ engagement in verbal deliberation to ‘voice’ against oppressive actions. As current discourses in the critical pedagogy literature tend to consider silence as a negative attribute in the classroom, I argue that they privilege a western construct and a very particular way of being and thinking. By using performative pedagogy as a theoretical framework, it is imperative to discuss the macro and micro implications of how discourses in the critical pedagogy literature affect how we understand silence theoretically and pedagogically” (p. 267).

Lindemann, K. (2011). Performing (dis)ability in the classroom: Pedagogy and (con)tensions. Text and Performance Quarterly, 31, 285-302.

“Disability has become a pervasive and contested issue on college campuses, and instructors and students find themselves occupying physical and discursive spaces that hold great pedagogical potential. This essay pursues such a consideration. It examines one physically disabled student’s staged performance of a personal narrative, her ethnography of a university’s disabled student services office, an in-depth interview with the student, and the author’s family experiences with disability to illustrate the ways a performative pedagogy offers insight into (dis)ability in the classroom. The analysis illustrates the classroom as a site for identity negotiation, performance as a tool to deconstruct and reconstruct notions of ability, and family relationships as an integral part of a critical communication pedagogy” (p. 285).

Moreman, S. T., & Non Grata, P. (2011). Learning from and mentoring the undocumented AB540 student: Hearing an unheard voice. Text and Performance Quarterly, 31, 303-320.

“This essay provides a space for understanding the experiences of the undocumented college student. Following Moraga and Anzaldúa’s “theory of the flesh,” a student and professor come together as allies to recognize and honor an enfleshed voice that is often unheard or ignored. In three separate parts, the writers provide a space for the readers to grow through deeply understanding the daily reality of students across the US who deal with the fears and frustrations of being undocumented and the ways that academia might exacerbate those fears and frustrations” (p. 303).



Cooks, L., & Warren, J. T. (2011). SomeBodies(‘) in school: Introduction. Text and Performance Quarterly, 31, 211-216.