As part of course requirements, 16 elementary education students in a master's cohort tutored groups of Kindergarten-5th grade children in a service-learning, after-school writing program that emphasized teacher care. The education students had never taught children in a school setting and consequently had difficulties reflecting about their lessons through weekly e-mail communication. As the instructor of the course, I had a hunch innovative artistic processes might unleash and heighten the education students' abilities as reflective practitioners. Therefore, I asked them to explore their pedagogy through the arts. Concurrently, I conducted a study to ascertain in what ways arts constructions might prompt the education students' motivation and abilities to thoughtfully consider their work. As respected arts scholars suggest, throughout the inquiry process, I monitored and documented my research methodology in an attempt to achieve and verisimilitude (i.e. truthfulness). I learned that the education students had distinct preferences for specific modes of reflection (i.e. e-mail communication, self-portraits with dialogue, poetry, or a combination of these three approaches.) Employing constant comparative methods, I also discovered that the education students revealed little contemplation about teaching in their e-mail messages. However, arts-based techniques, particularly poetry, fostered and illuminated their pedagogical introspections. In addition, I found the education students wrote incongruent messages depending upon whether they reflected through e-mail, self-portraits with dialogue, or poetry.
Exploring Education Students' Reflexivity through the Arts in an After-School Writing Tutoring Program: A Descriptive Case