Teachers' processes of negotiating meaning of new curriculum
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This qualitative study addresses the question of how teachers negotiate meaning of new curriculum to better understand how curriculum is transformed from a theoretical construct to a practical one. Through interviews with 5 teachers, their experiences were examined as they negotiated the process of implementing new curriculum. Three theoretical constructs provided the entry point into the study: epistemology, teacher knowledge, and teacher learning. Using inductive analysis, 4 points or attributes of negotiation emerged: reference, growth, autonomy, and reconciliation. These attributes provided a theoretical framework from which a constructivist conceptualization of teacher learning and teacher knowledge could serve to understand the process of how teachers negotiate meaning of curriculum. Studied and theorized in this way, teacher knowledge and teacher learning are seen to be inextricably linked in a relationship that is dynamically changed by forces of stability and instability. Theorizing the negotiation of meaning from a constructivist epistemology also strengthened the assertion that negotiating meaning is a unique structural process, and that knowledge construction is therefore unique to each knower and subject to experience in a particular time and place. The implications for such a theory are, first, that it questions the legitimacy of privatized teacher practice and, second, that it calls for a renewed conceptualization of collegial network and relationship to strengthen the capacity for negotiating meaning of curricular initiatives. Understanding the relationship of curricular theory and negotiating meaning also has implications for curriculum development. In particular, the study highlights the necessity of professional discretion and the generative process of negotiating meaning.