Engagement: Becoming Penguin, Canary and Cyborg

Abstract

 Presenter (s) Anani M. Vasquez, Arizona State University

Educational practices can re-situate the human within a deeply interconnected assemblage that includes multispecies and technological fusions. In this study, the observed class assemblage of students, teacher, teacher coach and researcher connected rhizomatically to the more-than-human world. The educational practices of special education inclusion, teacher coaching for professional development and student engagement were described from multiple perspectives. The purpose of this rhizoanalysis was to describe the becoming of an engaging special education inclusion math class. Becoming is a process of change within an assemblage that accounts for relationships between the parts of the assemblage. In this mapping, anecdotes were recognized as affect, events leading to new possibilities, or molecular lines of flight, for understanding engagement in an inclusion classroom. These anecdotes were taken from field notes and dialogue and lesson transcripts. A methodological reflection journal and sleep/wake phone memos also served as both data and analysis.

Three new possibilities for understanding engagement emerged during the mapping of the assemblage; becoming penguin, becoming canary and becoming cyborg. The penguin anecdote continuously connected across the assemblage, leaving tracings across time and extending to humans and non-humans beyond the observed class. Engagement as becoming penguin traces the scientific observation of the first penguin of the colony to jump into the ocean and is recognized further in the assemblage as the sacrificing, trailblazing, risk-taker. The canary anecdote also connected to several parts of the assemblage. Engagement as becoming canary traces the historical practice of lowering a canary into a mine to assess air quality. The human-becoming-canary-engaged indicates the declaration of a lack of resources to meet essential needs for learning. Engagement as becoming cyborg describes the parts of the assemblage that were human-technology fusions.

Although the definition of student engagement has evolved over the last couple of decades to include multiple indicators, results from this study illustrate a need for new perspectives on student engagement, especially in the inclusion classroom. The assertive interrupter, the rule-breaker, the (dis)abled and the physically absent all became engaged in the class assemblage.

Likewise, new possibilities for the practice of teacher coaching emerged during the mapping. Results from this study illustrate how the teacher is not always the teach-er in a class assemblage. The teacher coach and teacher educator/researcher are not always the professional develop-ers. Sometimes learning opportunities, for both children and adults, begin with a student, people outside of the classroom, animals and technology fusions. Each person in the learning assemblage participates in becoming penguin, becoming canary and/or becoming cyborg.

This mapping can serve as an impetus to encourage teacher practices that promote going off on tangents, fully utilizing teachable moments, integrating non-human teach-ers, and that recognize interruptions, disruptions and absences as part of engagement and the learning process. Future studies might deepen our understanding of how an educator team might support non-traditional student engagement and how the social, emotional and physical connections in becoming penguin, canary and cyborg can lead to math learning.

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