Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education/Leadership in Urban Schools

First Advisor

Donna DeGennaro

Second Advisor

Tricia Kress

Third Advisor

Patricia Paugh


This (co) auto|ethnography, defined in the text, investigates my work with a co-teacher to interpret the contemporary rhetoric of school reform, 21st century skills/ global education. Using a critical frame to explore this discourse, the study chronicles our journey to unearth ideology and structures grounding the calls for school reform, as we struggled to define 21st century skills/global education for ourselves, change a unit of study, geometry, so that it better matched our conceptualizations, and then implement the changed lessons in a 5th grade public school classroom, located in an affluent city in Massachusetts. Using videotape, a shared journal, student work and other artifacts, the study brings to the forefront the ways in which teacher pedagogy is shaped by wider structures, ideologies, and ingrained habits, along with our own constructions of what educational reform could be. In using myself as one of the co-teachers and a classroom context in which I was already familiar, the study also provides a commentary on the value of teacher research.

In response to one large question, I learned that critically examining calls for school reform not only goes to the core of what it means to be a teacher and a student in contemporary schooling, but to essential understandings about the wider social and political context, and one's place within it. As we strove to surface ideology and structures, we realized the profound difficulty involved in seeing one's place in the wider web of reality and changing ingrained ways of thinking. As co-teachers who were situated within the dominant norms and structures, we could not always see the social implications of our actions. However, through constant interpretations of our context and ourselves, we have been better able to construct our own ever-evolving notions of school reform. In the end, we learned that calls for 21st century skills/global education need to be explored in further depth by supporting teacher inquiry about the purposes of schooling and the position of self in the web of reality, as opposed to the current educational climate of standards and mandates.


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