I met Mike as a result of my work with Clare. He was head of mathematics at Beacham and I often encountered him when I went into the school. 1 He showed interest in my research and we frequently discussed issues related to the mathematics department. It was through him that I learned of the operation of the department, the reasons for use of particular materials and the way in which department members worked together for curriculum development. He invited me to join a departmental meeting and also arranged for me to take part in a project involving teachers from various departments in the school. This enabled me to become aware of the school’s particular ethos and some of its philosophy of operation.
Mike was very keen to be involved in the research and invited me to participate in his lessons. Thus, he too became a part of my Phase 2 work. He made it clear that I was free to use audio or video recording as I wished, and to talk with students. It was appropriate for me to observe mainly a Year 9 class for which Mike was also pastoral tutor. He had an excellent relationship with the students. My observations began shortly before Christmas in 1986, and continued regularly throughout the spring term. As with Clare, I maintained contact with Mike during the summer term with occasional classroom observation and conversations with him and with students.
Although I describe my involvement with both teachers and their classes as ‘participant observation’ and ‘informal interviewing’, my levels of participation were rather different. From the first, in Mike’s lessons, I recorded interactions on audio tape and video-recorded aspects of some lessons. Students were interested in the recording and its purposes, so conversations with them started quite readily, and they quickly came to accept me as a part of their lessons. Data collection from Mike’s lessons also included that from secondary observation done by a research colleague, and her observations and comments contributed to my analysis.
Mike showed interest in abstracting issues, related to the research, beyond his immediate classroom situation. Thus I often found myself drawn into debate with Mike, whereas with Clare my role had been much more one of probing her