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Using critical incidents to guide reflection and learning

Teachers are known for the stories they tell—about classroom interactions, specific children, moments in the classroom that are especially gratifying, experiences that influence their ideas about teaching and so on. We tell these stories as part of who we are and how we make sense of our work. We also tell stories as a way to express emotions like joys, fears and frustrations. If you think back to the interactions you and your mentor have already had to get acquainted and get started on your work together, you probably can recall stories that you have exchanged. This exercise is designed to help you “get more” out of storytelling, to use the stories you’re naturally inclined to tell as tools for learning and growing.

These sections provide background information and suggest ways to proceed:

The following resources were used to develop this exercise: Kaufman, J.E. (2004). Language, inquiry, and the heart of learning: Reflection in an English methods course. English Education, 36 (3), 174-191; and Newman, J.M. (Ed.). (1990). Finding our way: Teachers exploring their assumptions, pp. 7 – 24. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.