作为一名教师，我成长为学习的社会实践和仪式，开始了新的学年。作为地毯清洗，盒子被打开，桌椅被重新配置，基于前一年的学习，我的脑海里徘徊。我总是很好奇谁会和我一起分享这个教室。虽然在学校开学前举行了一周的会议，但学生名单上的名单在上课前一天中午之前就被分发出去了。那里总是匆忙写下学生的名字，使课堂显得欢迎四点以前，当家长和学生将通过甩门，试图了解新教师会，和谁是在同一个教室。当老师们在一年之久的旅程中加入他们的名字的名单，他们瞥了一眼，比较和想象。他们立即试图了解更多的学生，他们是谁？他们是怎么表现的？他们的父母会支持吗？在学生们在教室里设脚前，在等待他们的名字时，有一个完整的身份建立在他们的名字里。等等，我想我是在自己前面，只讲故事的一部分。超过学生的名字塑造的身份教师，包括我自己，为他们建造。随着名单，我们得到了与以前老师的意见，关于学生写在背面的考勤卡。这些都不是公共知识，因此，教师可以自由写的学生没有审查自己。As a first-grade teacher preparing for the upcoming year, I was shocked to learn that George was on my new roll. His previous teacher wrote that George was a ‘behaviour problem’, was defiant, talked back to adults, didn’t speak properly, was behind academically and spent over half of kindergarten in detention. George initially gave me negative impressions, using non-standard English and more direct speech than I expected. Yet by listening closely and employing classroom discourse analysis, I came to recognise George’s contributions, consequently working to dispel the myth that African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) is wrong. I started analysing my own talk, instead of blaming George for misunderstandings. We openly talked about the use of direct and indirect statements. Through this study, I suggest that kidwatching, looking closely at interactions and contexts, and seeing AAVE as a resource in class, can positively affect young children and their teachers.
As a teacher, I grew to learn the social practices and rituals of beginning a new school year. As carpets were washed, boxes were unpacked and tables and chairs were reconfigured based on the learnings of a previous year, my mind wandered. I was always curious about who would share the classroom with me. While meetings and such were held the week prior to school’s start, the list of students’ names would not be handed out until lunchtime the day before classes started. There was always a hurry to write down students’ names and make the classroom seem welcoming before four o’clock, when parents and students would enter through flinging doors, trying to learn who the new teacher would be, and who else was in the same classroom. As teachers got the list with the names of the students who would join them in a year-long journey, they glanced, compared and imagined. They immediately tried to learn more about students – Who were they? How did they behave? Would their parents be supportive? Before students ever set foot in the classroom, there was a whole identity built around their names while waiting for them. Wait, I guess I am getting ahead of myself and telling only part of the story. More than students’ names shaped the identities teachers, including myself, constructed for them. Along with the list, we got attendance cards with the previous teacher’s comments regarding the student written on the back. Those were not public knowledge, therefore, teachers felt free to write about the student without censoring themselves. Words including ‘sweet’, ‘hyperactive’ and ‘behaviour *Email: email@example.com ISSN 0300-4430 print/ISSN 1476-8275 online . #p#分页标题#e#
1084 M. Souto-Manning problem’ permeated such comments. Additionally, we always heard directly about infamous students from the previous year’s teachers. One year, upon receiving my list of students who would be in my first-grade classroom, I was shocked to learn that George1 was on my roll. His previous teacher wrote that George was a ‘behaviour problem’ who was defiant, talked back to adults, didn’t know how to speak properly, and was behind academically. Reading this and realising he had spent over half of kindergarten in detention, I was not looking forward to teaching George. He was certainly the most notorious among all rising first graders, as his frequent trips to the Opportunity Room (OR) were often accompanied by kicking and screaming in the school’s hallways. Through his records, attendance card and reputation, there was a discursive production of problem, of a problematic identity for George.
George’s story as authored in kindergarten作为创作在幼儿园乔治的故事
Some years ago, somewhere in the South at Southwood Elementary School, there was a lively, smart, eager, African-American boy named George. He liked talking, and talking got him into a lot of trouble in kindergarten. Every time the teacher asked the class a question, George wanted to answer. As a five-year-old, eager to make sense of the world around him, George answered and answered. But some of the questions George was asked were not meant to be answered. George sometimes got in trouble for answering them. ‘George, would you like to go back to your seat?’ the teacher would ask. ‘Nope!’ George answered. The teacher replied by pointing to the time-out area and saying, ‘Don’t you talk back at me’. George said, ‘but I was jus’ tryin’ to anser your question. It not fair’. ‘Then go to OR’ the teacher immediately replied as documented by George’s cumulative record. OR was the place where George ended up spending most of his kindergarten days. What an irony, the OR was actually taking learning opportunities away from George. In such a case, institutionalised means of handling different behaviours and interactional positionings were established and largely shaped classroom interactions. If a student’s response was initially interpreted as disrespectful, often no further attempt was made to decode the students’ message. That student would be sent to the OR – the room to which students were sent when teachers could not handle them in the classroom. It was conceptualised as an opportunity for students to reflect and regroup and then return to the classroom, although this seldom happened. In everyday musings and conversations, it was simply referred to as OR. Many children didn’t even know what it meant, just that it indexed punishment. Another thing that got George in trouble in kindergarten was his use of English. When George tried to share his experiences, he was often interrupted. ‘We was goin’ to aks my momma to go. She be there …’ As soon as George started, the teacher would interrupt and ask him to speak correctly. She really meant Standard English, but what is Standard? Why shouldn’t he say ‘we was’, ‘aks’ and ‘she be there’? George showed his frustrations by what the teacher referred to as acting out, and then he’d go to the OR again. So many opportunities … missed! George was then referred to special education classes, and went to first grade with a reputation that preceded him. Students in the classroom started interacting with George by correcting and chastising him for his language use. Frustrated, George often resorted to physical reactions involving hitting, kicking and screaming. Subsequently, he was again sent to OR. The teacher was largely unaware of how the tacit messages she was sending through interactional patterns permeated classroom talk. These messages shaped who George became in the classroom and what kind of interactions he had with peers. #p#分页标题#e#
Early Child Development and Care 1085 George’s cumulative record indicated that he had been sent to OR over 60 times. Documentation regarding each trip to OR made his cumulative folder much fatter than the others. As I opened the folder, I thought I was trying to know more about George. As I read through the folder, I noticed that the reasons for his frequent trips to OR were related largely to language and culture clashes between George and his kindergarten teacher. I was determined this would not happen in my classroom. As the year stated, I deliberately decided to leave aside my preconceptions about George. Nonetheless, my efforts went out the window as soon as I saw him and remembered scenes of him screaming and kicking in the hallway the previous year. He entered first grade with a history that followed him and shaped how many teachers and students treated and interacted with him. In conferring with Elizabeth, George’s former kindergarten teacher, I noticed there were three things she had done that disadvantaged George in kindergarten: (1) Correcting his African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) and expecting him to abide by so-called Standard English: Former teacher: He’d say I be goin’, and you know I had to stop him. Teacher: Uh-hum. Former teacher: Because he needed to learn how to speak proper, you know? (2) Not considering the linguistic context of multiple interactional styles, dialects and accents (pronunciations characteristic of particular groups of people as relative to other groups) in the classroom. ‘Would you like to …?’, for example, was taken by George as a question, and by the teacher as a direction, a declarative sentence: Teacher: So, what made you feel like you had to send him to OR? Former teacher: It was like, I would say, would you like to sit down? And he would say no. Then I sent him to time-out and he kept saying he didn’t understand. He disturbed the class, so I had to send him to OR. (3) Not considering how turn-taking might take different forms across linguistic and cultural contexts; interruptions, for example, are the norm in some contexts and the exception in others: Teacher: So, tell me about a normal day. Former teacher: We started with calendar, after announcements, you know? Teacher: Uh-hum. Former teacher: Then during calendar, I’d ask something and he’d shout out the answer. He could not wait for his turn. Teacher: Yeah. Former teacher: And during read-aloud, he’d stop me every couple words. It was impossible to get through the book. I had to ask him to sit out. What was the consequence? George developed a reputation as a child with a behaviour problem who did not keep up academically. How could he, if he was out of the classroom in the OR (aka detention) so often? Clearly, classroom talk, teacher’s talk and communicated messages to and about George were often not noticed. Such messages shape what a certain student, such as George, becomes in the classroom. When talking to his former teacher, I observed that she did not realise how messages she sent to George shaped how he was seen by his peers and other teachers in the classroom. Such messages, nevertheless, shape what is learned in the classroom and who gets to learn, creating islands within a classroom, and isolating students, excluding them emotionally and physically from learning opportunities. Please note that I am by no means suggesting that George’s kindergarten teacher did not care and/or intended to disadvantage George. Her experience is not shared here in order #p#分页标题#e#
1086 M. Souto-Manning to chastise her actions and decisions, but to shed light on other situations, in which well-meaning teachers unintentionally create classroom ghettos – in which students who use language in diverse ways are treated differently. This stance represents who I started becoming as George moved to first grade. Read on!
First grade, first learnings of a teacher一年级时，老师先学习收获
I would love to write that in my first-grade classroom, George’s contributions were immediately valued, but this was not the case. The messages that had been sent to me regarding George initially came to affect how I saw him as a student, what he was capable of and how I should deal with him. I thought I had the self-control to shut out those influences and to make my classroom a different place, but as routines developed, I noticed that I was mirroring the same pattern prevalent in George’s kindergarten life. Very early in the school year, as I realised that I was not reaching George, I wrote in one of my journal entries: I don’t know what is happening. George doesn’t seem to be enjoying his experience in my classroom. I need to do something to make my classroom a more representative and welcoming place … so that he can call it MY CLASSROOM too and feel like he belongs there. I just don’t know what to do!!! After thinking about my own stance in the classroom (who I was as a teacher and how I was interacting with George), I realised that I was engaging in the same sort of institutionalised talk presented by his kindergarten teacher. If whatever George said did not meet my expectations in terms of behaviour or interactional position, I would exclude him from the classroom learning opportunity. I realised that our interactions followed a certain sequence that often ended with a consequence voiced in command such as ‘Time out!’ or ‘Go to OR!’. By noticing my own tendency, I realised George was likely reacting to the messages I was sending, and such messages were not valuing him in the classroom, neither as a learner nor as a person. I noticed that he initially gave me negative impressions, using more direct speech towards me than what I expected and speaking non-standard English. I realised how each student: …is unique in their walking of this earth, each an entire universe, each somehow sacred. This recognition asks us to reject any action that treats other people like objects, anything that thingifies human beings. It demands that we embrace the humanity of every student. (Ayers, 2004, p. 35) This meant that I needed to act as a reflective teacher, since beyond affecting his learning and attitudes towards school, my interactions with George and the interactions he had with peers were shaping the tone of life in the classroom. While initially I didn’t know what to do, ultimately paying close attention to classroom talk, and especially to how I talked and interacted with George, allowed me to imagine some situations in which change could be enacted. I found that journaling, as storytelling, was a good site of entry for problem solving (Ochs, Smith, & Taylor, 1996). After all, a teacher’s journal has the possibility to be ‘a means for insightful self-discovery and a tool for personal and professional growth’ (Hoff, 2002, p. xii). Initially, writing entries in my journal allowed me to reflect on my teaching practice (Brookefield, 1995), purpose, my students’ learning processes and outcomes. It allowed me to move after being paralysed by the fear that I might not know how to reach George. While easy to ignore, I knew that George’s school life could greatly benefit from my positive positionings, interactions and attitude towards him. At that time, I realised that I needed to get beyond survival mode, beyond using a journal as a tool to debrief my own experiences, and start recognising the #p#分页标题#e#
Early Child Development and Care 1087 importance of talk in shaping George’s identities and experiences in my classroom, and classroom dynamics as a whole. I needed to get closer to George, and the journal portrayed my interpretations of George’s actions, my perception. Looking at language allowed me to blur the roles of student and teacher (Freire, 1995) and to learn alongside him.
Many accents in the classroom在课堂上，许多口音
George taught me that his accent was only one of many in the classroom. I ultimately learned to value George’s contributions in AAVE. I learned to value the linguistic structure of AAVE, such as understanding the difference between ‘I am going’ and ‘I be going’, similar to the two applications of the verb ‘to be’ in Latin-based languages: Teacher: George is going to share with us when to use I be and I am. Sam: But, I can’t use I be. Teacher: Why? Sam: Because my momma says it’s wrong. Teacher: Well, it’s not wrong, it’s a way of saying something that I am doesn’t say. You don’t have to use it, but you have to listen, so that you know how to use it if you want to or how people are using it. It is African-American English.2 George: Yeah. It’s like I be is not like I am. Teacher: I know! I be is like is for when you are doin’ something. George: Like I be watchin’ Proud Family. I am is different. It’s like I’m a boy. Not gonna change. I’ll always be a boy, but I might not be watchin’ Proud Family. Kari: So, I be sitting down? (says tentatively) Teacher (laughs): You got it! Gabriel: Yo soy y Yo estoy? Diego: Si, ahora yo lo comprendo! Lupita: Yo soy una chica. Yo estoy en la primária. George: What you talkin’ ‘bout? José: It’s like in Spanish, we have yo estoy and yo soy. Two ways! The different accents in the classroom clearly came to light in this conversational excerpt as well as on many other occasions. Studies such as those conducted by Gee (1996) and Heath (1983) have suggested that teachers and students should be surrounded by positive attitudes, culture and links between school and home. Reading such studies shed light on my own practice. Heath (1983) studied two communities in the Southeast, Trackton and Roadville. She found that in Trackton, an African-American working-class community whose older generations grew up farming the land but whose current members worked in the mills, children’s language at home and in the community enhanced their interests and survival skills. Yet in some cases, such language did not prepare them as classroom learners. Studies by Gee (1996) have supported Heath’s findings and inform us that home, community and tools for reading and writing influence language development. Both of them value the recognition of multiple accents in the classroom and underline the importance of home languages being part of school. In each classroom, there needs to be a bridge to success for students not raised within ‘the culture of power’ as posited by Delpit (1998). The bridge metaphor expressed by Nieto is appropriate for teachers who want to be effective with ‘students of diverse backgrounds’ (2002, p. 18), as she suggested crossing the bridge is not up to the students. A bridge cannot be raised unilaterally, so teachers seeking to foster success for all students in their classrooms need to constantly re-examine their own practices, and name issues, talking about them with students. One such issue is the marginalisation of AAVE, pinpointed by Sam in the transcript above. During a conversation in the writing centre, two African-American #p#分页标题#e#
1088 M. Souto-Manning students, George and Tyron further articulated their perceptions of the marginalisation of AAVE by the media: Tyron: BET is the only one in they house. George: I know what you mean. Tyron: It’s like, if you don’ watch BET is like you talk wrong you look wrong. George: They was talkin’ ‘bout that, you know, I been watchin’ BET, you be? (Tyron nods) In the transcript above, Tyron and George talk about the marginalisation of AAVE by conveying that the only TV channel in their family’s homes is BET (Black Entertainment Television). All other channels, according to George, make him feel outcast, someone who talks and looks ‘wrong’. In a classroom-debriefing session that followed this conversation, I realised how schools were also outcasting African-Americans and conceptualising AAVE speakers in a certain way. Problem behaviours were being constructed through using language a certain way, as initially conveyed by Anna in the excerpt below: George: No, I don’ want none. Anna: I don’t want any? (correcting) George: I already said, I don’ want none! Anna: Mrs. Manning, George is yelling at me. Teacher: Anna, in Brazil, we say ‘eu n.o quero nenhum’, it’s just like I don’t want none. I think that George is yelling because he is frustrated that you repeated what he was trying to tell you. George: She said the same thing. Teacher: George, it might have sounded the same, but you said ‘I don’t want none’ and she said ‘you don’t want any?’ Both ways are okay. George: dependin’ where you be. By exposing the multiple accents in the classroom and commonalities in some of them, the status and power of certain accents is challenged. Early childhood educators must take seriously the concept that students are granted permission to fail within the systemic structure of power and not be blamed for their failure. According to Labov (1995), Black students’ talk or AAVE patterns of speech are viewed by schools as grounds for questioning academic competence and aptitude. Even though there are many differences between AAVE and the English generally spoken in the classroom, labelled power discourse by Gee (1996), according to most sociolinguists, these differences are not significant enough to be cited as causes for the considerable academic failure of African-American students in schools. Multiple accents and interactional styles in classrooms and schools are signals of social clashes influenced by historical injustices. This has been documented by Seligman, Tucker, and Lambert (1972), who cited speech as the single most important factor influencing teachers’ predictions of students’ academic success. Labov noticed that ‘differences between AAVE and other dialects were not great enough to be the primary causes of reading failure’ (1995, pp. 48–49). Yet, everyday attitudes surrounding such speech patterns and the identities associated with certain discursively constructed interactional patterns greatly contribute to student failure, as exemplified here by George’s experiences. When a child’s primary discourse (Gee, 1996) was aligned with the school’s primary discourse, that child experienced success and was seen as gifted. However, if the child’s language socialisation processes differed from the one employed by teachers, they were diagnosed as needing help, as ‘at-risk’ from day one (Delpit, 1998), and, like George, denied access to learning opportunities. According to Murray (1999), the quality of teaching in culturally diverse classrooms can be improved if we educate future teachers in an understanding of language and power and in appropriate pedagogies for students. Then their informed committed action #p#分页标题#e#
Early Child Development and Care 1089 will support learning for all students. I go further and posit that the quality of teaching may be improved if we provide teachers and pre-service teachers with access to discourse analytic tools, so they may enact change in their own environments, fostering democratic education. Democratic education is, after all, about constant teaching and learning which supports widespread literacy. Students and teachers benefit when unbiased ways of teaching bridge the gap between learning and the real world (hooks, 2003), including multiple languages, accents, interactional styles and cultures. That year I shared with him, George was referred to and started receiving gifted services. I confess that George made me a better teacher and that in many ways, he taught me more than I could ever teach him. George is now in middle school somewhere in the South. He now knows about the different languages and when to use them. He still speaks AAVE at times and sees the importance of doing so.
Listening to George, and not about George听乔治，而不是乔治
In the beginning, George’s interactional style took me aback. I was not quite sure how to play the game, the rules around some of his interactions, but decided to leave aside some of my assumptions of how language worked. Obviously, we had different ways of communicating and we would have to learn from each other if we were to get anywhere. As I started noticing my own talk and purposefully censoring myself from trying to get George to talk my talk, he began to shine. I started adopting the stance that I needed to learn how George used language and how he interacted with others in and out of school. I soon noticed that George was always eager to answer questions, and he was valued for his contributions. The interaction below represents a turning point. Although feeling vulnerable, my stance clearly changed from sending George to time-out or OR to listening to him and learning about how he made sense of the world through language: Teacher (talking to entire class): Today, we are going to learn about farm animals and zoo animals. Isn’t this cool? George: Nope! (Children look around with surprised and fearful faces) Teacher: So … what would you like to learn about? George: If you aks me, amphibians. (Children giggle) Teacher: Amphibians? George: Yeah, Mrs. Manning, didn’t you hear? Amphibians! Teacher: So … what do you know about amphibians? George: They be breathin’ under their skin, ya know? Teacher: So … where did you learn that? George: I be watchin’ Discovery Channel. In the above excerpt, I gave George the opportunity to progress with his contribution even though his response was off-putting, ‘Nope!’ He had taken my rhetorical question as a real question and he did not feel that learning about farm animals and zoo animals would be ‘cool’. His directness could have been considered rude and disrespectful resulting in a trip to the time-out area or even to OR (for talking back to a teacher). Yet by letting him proceed, despite the surprise and fear portrayed by other children, and asking him what he wanted to learn about, I opened the door to notice the brilliance of this child. When I asked him what he wanted to learn about, I was still trying to get back to the unit I had planned; therefore, I asked George what he knew about amphibians. I assumed #p#分页标题#e#
1090 M. Souto-Manning he would not know anything and was just trying to get attention, yet his knowledge, mediated through new literacy studies (Street, 2005) regarding learning via television and other technologies, became immediately clear. I was surprised by the fact that he knew about amphibian’s subcutaneous breathing and, as if demanding proof, I asked to know the place where he had learned about it. ‘I be watchin’ Discovery Channel’ was the answer. As a result of George’s contributions, the entire class embarked on enquiry projects about animals, researching and learning about mammals, reptiles, fish and amphibians that lasted almost two months. Listening closely to George, and not getting put-off by his interactional style and direct language, I came to recognise his brilliance. I was then giving him access to learning, as teachers should. George ultimately gained respect from his peers – those who had giggled during the above interaction and regarded him as someone who could not catch up and who was ‘bad’, as one of them said, for ‘talking back to the teacher’ and ‘not follow[ing] his directions’. During the enquiry project, George became the classroom expert on amphibians, and was clearly sought after for his suggestions on animal observations and internet surfing in search for resources. Even though his interactional style and language use had not changed, his peers and teacher perceived him differently. As a result, trips to the time-out area and OR became less common. By listening closely, I learned with George about the linguistic conventions he employed. Starting with the phrase ‘would you like to …?’, I looked back at my behaviour and language as opposed to blaming George for the misunderstanding. Analysing my own stance and understanding that I needed to employ more direct language was extremely beneficial. I realised that when he responded ‘no’ to questions such as ‘would you like to …?’ he was not necessarily challenging the teachers and acting in a disrespectful way. George was just being direct and honest. I openly talked about direct and indirect statements to the class as it applied to characters in stories they were writing, as well as to friends in the classroom. Finally, by talking about turn-taking and developing a system decided on by students was helpful. The excerpt below represents explicit talk around interactional styles and participatory frameworks in the classroom: Jordan: Would you like to sit down? George: You know, you aks me if I want to sit down, right? Jordan: Yes, please. George: So then, this a question or you tellin’ me to sit down? Jordan: I am asking you to sit so that I can get on with calendar. George: Then just tell me sit down. Jordan: Then I’d be rude. George: Not in my momma home. You want me to sit. I will. You don’t care if I wanna sit. It just a different way of aksin’, you know. I get it. In kindergarten I didn’t know. But I ain’t dissin’ you or you momma. Students came to understand, as exemplified above, that when George interrupted me and his peers to make contributions, he was not being rude, just following a different style of communicating. By recognising multiple interactional styles and accents in the classroom, his contributions were properly valued. Making such points explicit early on allowed George and many others to succeed in first grade. George learned different ways of communicating and interacting, and so did every single student in the class, as I learned alongside them. #p#分页标题#e#
Reflections of a teacher-learner以教师为学习者的思考
As I reflect on my own learnings, I realise that while embodying such an unbiased stance took time and determination, I learned that George’s conversational style was different
Early Child Development and Care 1091 from mine and that his contributions should not be dismissed. Such a lesson has shaped who I am as a teacher and person and continues to influence me today. My journal provided me with the tool to write down and notice the issue I was experiencing; I was not successful reaching my student George. The issue was conceptualised in terms of what I could do to make things better, not in terms of what George could have done or could do differently as is so often the case. In this case, I finally noticed that status-wise, I was the one capable of initiating the move; I was interactionally impeding George from engaging in classroom conversations due to his way of talking and my attitude about it. The journal was the initial tool that allowed me to notice the hidden messages I was giving George and my other students by deeming many of George’s contributions rude and sending him to time-out for participating, albeit in a particular way that was distinct from mine. By paying close attention to George’s language, I could not only grant George access to learning, but also share with the children a variety of communicative styles. As early childhood educators, we come in contact with multiple discourse styles in our classrooms. We cannot make the choice of simply letting some remain silent (Rymes, in press). This article contributes to a large body of literature that represents experiences of children who are silenced in school because of language and interactional styles. For example, Vasquez shared her experiences of silencing and humiliation during her early years as a student because she was not aware of the accepted routines in her kindergarten classroom: One day, I walked into my classroom at the sound of the school bell and found one black sheet of construction paper, one green piece of construction paper, one square piece of yellow paper, one red circle, scissors, and a bottle of glue, neatly organized across the desk I shared with another 5-year-old. I took the red circle, traced it onto the black sheet of paper and proceeded to cut along the line. ‘Stop! Is that what I told you to do? You are doing it all wrong ….’ My teacher’s voice bellowed in my head. (2004, pp. xiii–xiv) She described how, at the end of that day, she received a black angel (instead of a golden one like the other students), for being disobedient. Such damaging classroom experiences can be avoided if teachers pay close attention and learn with children about linguistic and cultural practices they bring to the classroom and by talking about such practices, disturbing the status historically associated with a certain accent or interactional style. By looking closely at discourse (language in use) and how it interacts with a variety of contexts, discourse analysis can be a valuable tool for teachers as it provides tangible entry points where action may be initiated. Often, teachers such as myself can rethink their own stances as a result and recognise new ways of speaking and interacting in the classroom, negotiating status and promoting change in the context of the classroom. Discourse analysis may be used to uncover messages that shape student learning, identities and whole classrooms. Certainly one of the most important messages is the power of noticing the implicit messages a teacher gives students, influencing the way they act and see themselves. Through George, I was able to talk explicitly about language use, and move towards a more productive learning space in the classroom – a space where multiple voices and accents were honoured. Thanks to George, I started to notice and promote AAVE as part of the languages spoken in the classroom, and by honouring it I grew and learned alongside my students. I changed my behaviour, actions and language so that students could change theirs. ‘It is also important to say here that this kind of work changed me and the possible worlds I imagine for myself and the children I teach’ (Gallas, 2003, p. 134). #p#分页标题#e#
1092 M. Souto-Manning
Students’ voices: reflections on images of George学生的声音：对图像的思考
When students first arrived in my first-grade classroom, they commonly referred to George as ‘bad’. Here are some of the comments students made regarding George: ‘he cannot follow directions’, ‘he is rude’, ‘he is bad’, ‘he talks back to the teacher’, ‘he doesn’t have manners’. Such messages influenced how George was seen in the classroom and influenced classroom relationships and overall tone. Throughout the year, I found their attitudes gradually changed. For example, as we talked about turn-taking, all my students came to understand that when George interrupted to make contributions, he wasn’t being intentionally disrespectful. At the very end of the year, I asked students to write me letters on the most important learnings in first grade. In the midst of apparent primary writings, very deep messages could be decoded. Maggie’s message (as read aloud to my assistant teacher) represents what was conveyed by most students: I should not be mad at people because people don’t act like me. We can be friends. Play together, learn together, and talk different. Sometimes I think people are rude but they don’t mean to be rude. It’s the way they talk. Sometimes I ask a question but I really don’t want an answer. I really want for the person to do something. But friends know and we are all friends.
Hopes and lessons learned希望和经验教训
I hope this article sheds light on how looking closely at interactions and contexts (Rymes, in press) and seeing AAVE as a resource in the classroom can positively affect what and how students and teachers learn. With the summary of my learnings below, I seek to provide scaffolding (Vygotsky, 1978) and encourage reflective practices (Zeichner & Liston, 1996) among early childhood educators. I invite you to recognise and value diversity of accents and communicative styles in your own classroom, and to continue moving towards understanding the social and political contexts of schooling and developing a socio-political consciousness (Ladson-Billings, 1998). First, I sought to modify my attitude, embodying humility. Being humble and respecting students’ backgrounds and discourses, after all ‘… requires courage, self-confidence, self-respect, and respect for others. Humility helps us to understand this obvious truth: No one knows it all; no one is ignorant of everything’ (Freire, 1998, p. 39). I want to respect and value all students as human beings (Ayers, 2004), getting to know students on a personal level: listening to the everyday stories they tell and learning from listening closely to their talk and how I interact with them. I sought to embody the stance of a teacher-researcher, paying close attention to the multiple discursive practices that co-habited my classroom, talking openly about them with students. Inspired by the work of Shirley Brice Heath (1983), I valued and fostered home literacies and learned from them in the classroom (Hull & Schultz, 2002). Alongside my students, I started moving towards sharing ownership of knowledge (Rainer & Matthews, 2002) by blurring the roles of teacher and learner (Freire, 1995) and learning from families and communities through funds of knowledge (Moll, Amanti, Nett, & Gonzalez, 1992). As we did so, we talked openly, engaging in true dialogue, rather than consecutive monologue, in the classroom. We aimed at problem solving and action (Freire, 1995) and honouring students’ contributions, perspectives, and languages, rather than sponsoring one language, one accent as the norm. Collectively, we started moving towards a socio-political consciousness (Ladson-Billings, 1998) by getting involved with real community problems such as AAVE being #p#分页标题#e#
Early Child Development and Care 1093 conceptualised as wrong. By enquiring into historical injustices, teachers and students can notice and negotiate them. We ought to bring: …unofficial agendas of children out to be seen as a subtextual dynamic that permeates classroom activity and influences all aspects of teaching and learning … it is critical that teachers recognize those agendas and bring them into the official business of the classroom. (Gallas, 2003, p. 56) While this might make teaching more challenging, it allows for an explicit connection to the students’ contexts and everyday lives. My belief is that from such stances, teachers have the potential to reach students who speak with multiple accents, respecting and recognising them above all for who they are and dialoguing about the importance of each child’s language practices and identities.
Listening to George’s words today听了乔的话
Today in middle school, George is more fluent than in first grade and continues to challenge his teachers to learn about AAVE inviting them to honour and value it in their classrooms. As he looks back, he realises that it is important to understand and value Englishes, both in terms of language and context, form and function. He sees that his mission now is to educate teachers so that they can value the brilliance of so many African-American students, as his first-grade teacher did when he took the class beyond shallow curriculum mandates, when he invited his teacher to engage in enquiry about amphibians. I hope that you will go back to your classrooms to learn from and with your students, each one of them, valuing the languages, accents and cultural backgrounds they bring to the classroom, and seeing AAVE as a resource as opposed to a deficit in the classroom, looking at your practice and re-evaluating your stance so as to provide a good learning environment for each and every child. Responding to George’s call, I suggest that paying close attention to students’ and teachers’ languages, kidwatching (Owocki & Goodman, 2002) by systematically observing and documenting children’s literacy practices, and employing discourse analytical tools to guide teacher research and instructional decision making can contribute significantly to the professional growth of teachers as reflective practitioners and to the multiple accents and communities in which they work.
1. For confidentiality purposes, all names, except for the author’s, are pseudonyms.
2. African-American English is also referred to as Black English (BE), Black English Vernacular (BEV), African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) and Inner City English (ICE).
Notes on contributor对贡献者的注意事项
Mariana Souto-Manning, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Child and Family Development at the University of Georgia. From a critical perspective, her research examines the socio-cultural and historical foundations of early schooling, language development, literacy practices, cultures and discourses. She studies how young children, families and early childhood teachers from diverse backgrounds shape and are shaped by discursive practices, employing a methodology that combines discourse analysis with ethnographic investigation. Her work can be found in such journals as the Journal of Latinos and Education, Early Childhood Education Journal, Critical Inquiry in Language Studies, Bilingual Research Journal and Critical Discourse Studies.
1094 M. Souto-Manning
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