Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

A Rapid Ethnography of Itinerant Teachers of the Deaf

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

A Rapid Ethnography of Itinerant Teachers of the Deaf

Article excerpt

A RAPID ETHNOGRAPHIC STUDY of 10 itinerant teachers in two school districts and 21 other professionals working with the itinerants was conducted. Rapid ethnography starts with the same assumptions about culture as conventional ethnography. However, it is not constrained by the assumption of cultural ignorance on the investigator's part. Thus, it enables better-directed data collection. Interviews with the itinerants and other professionals, direct observation of itinerants at work, and archival data permitted the authors to generate a list of themes reflecting results of other studies which focused on specific skills for itinerant teaching. While knowledge of specific skills cannot be ignored, the study shows that effective itinerants are ones who, through a personality trait, extensive experience, or a specific value system, can generate a positive composite image of their role as itinerants and are then able to interact on the basis of that image.

Rationale

Luckner and Miller (1994) sum up itinerant teachers as people who spend so much time in their car that they can't remember why they came to a particular school but can teach anywhere in the building. Swenson (1995) characterized her job as an itinerant teacher with one word: variety. Itinerants see many students in one day. These students' ages can range from 2 to 21 years, and they can have a wide range of abilities and varying degrees of hearing impairment. No 2 days in a week are ever alike for the itinerant. Swenson describes several problems related to scheduling. Because itinerants often visit several schools in one day, they do not have the time to focus on one student. Scheduling with other itinerant service providers such as occupational therapists and speech clinicians can make for a scheduling headache. Itinerant teachers also can be troubled by the failure of the classroom teacher to follow through on recommendations, a lack of administrative support, and a large student caseload (Olmstead, 1995). But is this necessarily an accurate view of what itinerant teachers must experience? Is it possible that a skilled itinerant might not experience these same difficulties, or might respond to them in a different way?

In several studies, Luckner and his associates provide a list of skills or actions to describe the work of itinerant teachers (Luckner & Hanks, 2003; Luckner & Howell, 2002; Luckner & Miller, 1994; Yarger & Luckner, 1999). Yarger and Luckner (1999) trained graduate students to conduct semistructured interviews of 10 itinerant teachers of the deaf and analyzed the transcripts using content analysis. This process yielded several themes that might begin to describe a more effective type of itinerant, including an emphasis on direct service to students, a concern with consulting with various professionals, an enjoyment of diverse working situations, the freedom and autonomy to move about, and various challenges or constraints, most involving professional isolation and time or budget constraints. More recently, Luckner and Howell (2002) conducted a semistructured interview procedure with 26 itinerant teachers in a single state. In the study, a more sophisticated constant comparative analysis of the interview transcripts was done. This project generated a somewhat different list of themes in order of apparent importance to the participants: consulting with parents and teachers, coordinating the individualized education program (IEP), knowing the general education curriculum, troubleshooting FM and hearing aid systems, meeting the challenge of time constraints, and facing the need to work with a variety of people. What is interesting in the thematic differences between the two studies is not so much the emergence of new themes but the movement of some themes from positive to negative categories, suggesting that a phenomenon such as consulting with other professionals exists, but that its expression may be peculiar to the participants or to the system in which they find themselves. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.