Coia & Taylor 2009 Co/Autoethnography Exploring Our Teaching Selves Collaboratively

Coia, L., & Taylor, M. (2009). Co/autoethnography: Exploring our teaching selves collaboratively. In D. L. Tidwell, M. L. Heston, and L. M. Fitzgerald (Eds.), Research Methods for the Self-Study of Practice, (pp. 3 – 16). Springer.

Summary: In this chapter, the authors provide an overview of co/autoethnography. They provide a rationale for co-autoethnography and some practical suggestions for the process of engaging in co/autoethnography. The authors conceptualize identity as “complex and culturally informed” (p. 3). One of the most central tenants of co/autoethnography is storytelling.

  • This notion of story-telling is interesting. In some ways it contradicts some of the values in which I was raised during my graduate work. It makes me wonder – what is involved in a good story so that storytelling has merit as a pedagogical strategy?
  • “While autobiography is always at least implicitly interpretative, co/autoethnography forces us to look at our lives through a cultural lens. Teaching is a social practice with cultural norms. Teacher educators are part of this practice and are not outside these norms. Co/autoethnography provides a means of making sense of this complexity from the inside, for ourselves” (p. 6).
  • “We strive to build caring relationships with our students that support, guide, and nurture their own development as caring teachers. We are explicit about relationship building and model the process for our students with the hopes that they will do the same with their own students” (p. 7).
  • “Co-autoethnographic questions do not necessarily lead to linear investigations. They are at times messy and complicated and take extensive time to articulate and contextualize” (p. 11).
  • Literacy practices for co/autoethnography include : “(a) writing, re-writing, and sharing personal narratives; (b) talk and discussion before and after the narratives are shared; (c) reflective writing and response; (d) reading theory, research, and other narratives; (e) more discussion and talk; (f) collaborative analysis through talk and writing; and finally, (g) writing up research through individually writing, talk, collaborative writing, talk and collaborative editing” (p. 11).
  • “We respond to each other’s initial writing by writing into each other’s work. This stage is exploratory and affirmative and looks like a conversation. We respond in a variety of ways. Sometimes we are direct when we ask questions for clarification. Sometimes we give a personal response when we react in a true aesthetic fashion by sharing emotional connections. Sometimes a response is triggered by links with our own experience. Sometimes we give a response that shows how the writing is opening new perspectives for us” (p. 12). I thought this was an interesting way to think about giving feedback. I think it has multiple uses in teacher preparation and coaching beyond co/autoethnography.
  • “Our talk serves two purposes: it is a way that we generate data but it is also a method of data analysis” (p. 14).
  • “The goal of our analysis is to peel back the layers of our teaching and teaching identities to reveal new insights into how our past informs our present and future” (p. 14).
  • “By working with the personal, by bringing it into our teaching, we risk opening ourselves to our students by admitting into the classroom a more expansive understanding of professional identity. While this can be uncomfortable for us and our students, it is necessary in order to embrace the complex human dynamic that is teaching and learning” (p. 15).