Teacher Education

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Pennsylvania State University


In this study, I explore cogenerative dialogues as potentially supportive spaces for the development of mutual accountability and reciprocal learning between teachers and students, even within contexts dominated by high-stakes accountability and its associated challenges. In cogenerative dialogues, teachers gather with small groups of their students outside of instructional time to discuss classroom teaching and environment and to construct plans by which to improve student learning and wellbeing. Through a design-based case study, I worked with two science teachers, Lorena and Ellen, from urban high schools to establish and enact weekly cogenerative dialogues with their students over a period of five months. The high schools which framed the backdrop of this study served almost exclusively low-income Latino communities and had recently adopted strict measures of high-stakes teacher accountability. Findings indicated that, within the contexts of cogenerative dialogues, Ellen and Lorean engaged with their respective students in cycles of reflection that promoted mutualaccountability—an instantiation of which stands in stark contrast to the high-stakes accountability impacting so many teachers and schools today. I found that this cycle of mutual accountability was marked by three particular stages: Responsibility, or the solicitation of various stakeholder perceptions of problematic areas of classroom teaching and environment; Responsiveness, or the co-construction among teacher and students of potential solutions to such problems; and Report-and-Review, or moments where members of the dialogues reflected on, and held one another to account for, their endeavors within the enacted solution. At the same time, however, pressures associated with high-stakes accountability systems operating throughout the two high schools constrained the extent to which these stages of mutual accountability could fully emerge within the cogenerative dialogues. Thus, I argue that cogenerative dialogues can serve as important albeit limited spaces where teachers and students can, to a degree, re-appropriate ‘accountability’ as a mutually supportive element of relationship and learning, even when surrounding environments promote neoliberal, high-stakes interpretations of this concept.


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