Early Career Teachers’ Experiences of Communicating with Families via Technology: Educatively Dwelling in Tension

Nathalie Sandra Reid, Joanne Farmer, Claire Desrochers, Sue McKenzie-Robblee


A variety of online programs, apps, and digital learning management systems currently “provide teachers with a means to more easily communicate and share information with students and parents through discussion forums, social media, videoconferencing, email, grade books, and announcements” (Howell & O’Donnell, 2017, p.28). While technology is often seen as shaping positive shifts in teachers’ and schools’ abilities to communicate with families, we, the five co-researchers in the study Understanding the Interactions Between Early Career Teachers and Families, wondered how early career teachers were experiencing the use of technology to interact with families. During semi-structured interviews with each of the 20 teacher participants, we were awakened, for example, to tensions experienced by many of the teachers when expectations to communicate with families electronically conflicted with their longings for more relational and reciprocal interactions. Yet, we also came to see that the teachers were learning to dwell in these tensions in ways that opened potential for educative (Dewey, 1938) growth and movement toward the kinds of interactions with families they were imagining. This paper takes up technology as one of the resonant threads drawn from and across the teachers’ storied experiences, and inquires narratively into the kinds of generative tensions that many of the teachers were experiencing and drawing on as they imagined increased relational and reciprocal ways of interacting with families, and then moves to wonder how dwelling in these tensions might shape preservice and in-service teacher education.

Keywords: Early career teachers; families; technology; interactions; agency


Early career teachers; families; technology; interactions; agency

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