Part-Time Pedagogy?: Examining the Role of Occasional Teachers in Ontario's Classrooms
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This study examines the peripherality and precarity of occasional teaching, and explores how the instructional practice of daily substitute teachers in Ontario can be made more meaningful for both themselves and their students. Using an autoethnographic approach informed by my own experiences as an Occasional Teacher (OT), I consider, critically, the ongoing challenges and issues that impede OTs at both the elementary and secondary levels from belonging to a school's culture, and from perceiving their work as enriching and rewarding. Since the number of and demand for OTs in Ontario continue to rise steadily, this Major Research Project (MRP) helps to provide current and prospective OTs with a contemporary perspective from an active member in the teaching profession. While most of the literature on occasional teaching centers on classroom management—in itself, a fundamental component to successful instruction—such an established and rigid focus, I contend, precludes the prospect of considering if and how OTs can shape and apply efficacious pedagogies in the classroom. Working with theories from the fields of legitimate peripheral participation and critical pedagogy, I present, herein, some of the prominent issues that affect both the practice and personal positionality of OTs. More importantly, I offer suggestions, through a series of self-reflexive vignettes, about how substitute teachers can, precisely because of their marginality, perceive their nomadism as an advantageous source of opportunity that affords increased possibility for the construction and dissemination of knowledge, which ultimately contributes toward participatory, liberatory learning and the democratization of the classroom. What this project seeks to express, therefore, is that educators cannot afford to let critical pedagogy be an occasional effort.