Dialogic teacher inquiry: The case of a preservice teacher learning to facilitate class discussion

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Sergio L. Sanchez
Steven Z. Athanases


Developing knowledge and practice for high-quality K-12 class discussion remains challenging, especially for new teachers juggling other classroom responsibilities. Our study reports the case of a preservice teacher learning to lead discussions while enrolled in a teacher education inquiry course, simultaneous with semester-long supervised practice teaching in a seventh-grade class (12-13-year-olds) in a high-poverty urban community. The work is guided by a complex teacher learning process for developing complex practice of facilitating discussions in culturally and linguistically diverse high school English classes. Countering popular approaches to “talk moves” as useful but often generic facilitation practices, the teacher education pedagogical innovation we describe positions teachers as knowledge-generating, agentive professionals. Our conceptual framework for teacher learning features dialogic teacher inquiry, with three domains. The first domain involves moving beyond methods texts to dialoguing analytically with and among multiple print, online, and mentor resources for supporting development of a dialogic teaching stance. The second domain intentionally guides new teachers to explore classroom data and consider students as knowledge resources in shaping instruction. The third domain sustains dialogue about discussion processes and evolving conceptions of dialogism in small groups of preservice teacher collectives, enabling sharing of inquiry data, emerging findings, and dilemmas of practice. Drawing upon a larger database, we present a case study demonstrating one preservice teacher’s inquiry work with deep analysis of student talk, detailed memoing processes featuring challenges and benefits of developing dialogic teaching practices, thoughtful criticism of long-established discussion practices, and discoveries about nuances of dialogic teaching. Our case contributes to the literature by presenting an example of dialogic pedagogy for teacher education, in service of preservice teachers learning to lead classroom discussions. Additional innovative pedagogical designs are needed to assist teachers in gaining complex knowledge and practice for teaching and promoting meaningful and learning-rich talk in K-12 classrooms.

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How to Cite
Sanchez, S. L., & Athanases, S. Z. (2023). Dialogic teacher inquiry: The case of a preservice teacher learning to facilitate class discussion. Dialogic Pedagogy: An International Online Journal, 11(1), A1-A38. https://doi.org/10.5195/dpj.2023.482
Author Biographies

Sergio L. Sanchez, University of California, Davis, USA

Sergio L. Sanchez (Ph.D., University of California, Davis) is a Postdoctoral Scholar at UC Davis School of Education, working in the Teachers-as-Learners Project, funded by the James S. McDonnell Foundation (Steven Z. Athanases, PI). Previously, Dr. Sanchez taught English as a second language (ESL) and classroom drama in his native Argentina and has recently taught undergraduate and teacher education courses for UC Davis School of Education. Dr. Sanchez draws upon his teaching experience for his research on early-career teacher learning to lead class discussions and integrate drama-based pedagogy in culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms. His research appears in Teaching and Teacher Education, English Journal, Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, International Journal of Education & the Arts, Research in Drama Education, Journal of Literacy Research, and Arts Education Policy Review journals.

Steven Z. Athanases, University of California, Davis, USA

Steven Z. Athanases (Ph.D., Stanford University) is a Professor in the School of Education, University of California, Davis. Dr. Athanases is PI for a Teachers-as-Learners Project, funded by the James S. McDonnell Foundation, focused on preservice teachers learning to facilitate text-based discussions in culturally and linguistically diverse high school English classes. His work has documented multiple pedagogical innovations in teacher education, including partnering with diverse scholars and program graduates teaching in the region. His recent scholarship appeared in Teachers College Record, Teaching and Teacher Education, Journal of Teacher Education, Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, and Equity & Excellence in Education. Dr. Athanases also directed the Center for Shakespeare in Diverse Classrooms (2018-2021), partnering with Globe Education, Shakespeare’s Globe London, reporting new teachers’ classroom drama and inquiry work in Research in Drama Education, International Journal of Education and the Arts, and Arts Education Policy Review.


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