Visible Teaching: Open Doors as Resistance
Editors: Julie Gorlewski, David Gorlewski, P. L. Thomas, and Sean P. Connors
Submission Deadline: March 15, 2016
Publication Date: November 2016
Under pressure to adhere to a scripted curriculum or to conform to standardized instructional practices, educators might choose to adhere to a popular adage that recommends that they “close the door and teach,” presumably as an act of resistance. This advice is problematic, however, because it denies the agency of teachers, as professionals, to effect change in their schools. It willfully conceals alternative instructional practices that might otherwise benefit students, and it ignores the role that shared knowledge can play in sustaining a community.
Alternatively, teaching with our doors open establishes agency where the system has denied it; offers direct alternatives to the practices we reject, especially those that are not supported by the evidence of our field; and models for students how professionals behave.
This issue of English Journal explores how a decision to “teach with our doors open” can be interpreted as a form of empowerment and an act of resistance. It acknowledges teachers as agentive, and aims to understand how making one’s practices visible to others can disrupt standardizing forces and disciplinary mechanisms that are intended to promote conformity and compliance.
Contributors might consider questions such as: What conditions prompt teachers to teach behind closed doors, and how can they productively be addressed? How do you negotiate space to teach with your door open, and what advice would you offer others interested in doing so? How have you engaged with colleagues who respond differently to mandated and prescribed practices that you feel are not valid or effective? If you have experienced a transformative moment—moving from teaching with your door closed to teaching with your door open—how did that look and what advice can you offer those interested in making the same transition? How can teachers work with school leaders to create a school culture that values the open exchange of ideas and embraces evidence-based practices that push against mandates? We welcome educators to share experiences that investigate this important topic in the context of scholarly literature.
We invite manuscripts of 2,500-3,750 words, written to an audience of educators in grades 7-12 English classrooms.