chapter  4
Phonics Programs, Teacher Knowledge, and Teacher Identity
Pages 15

Many decisions were made leading to the adoption of the phonics program

that Karen is being forced to use. On the surface, the decision is to have a

phonics program in place to support children’s reading. However, the deci-

sion is just not that simple. The program that was selected, the way it is be-

ing mandated, and the experiences that children and teachers have each day

in school all suggest many more decisions. Decisions have been made about

the definition of reading, and inherent in that definition are decisions about

what children will do in school, what the teacher knows and can do, where

knowledge comes from (a publisher via a district office or other sources),

curriculum, and how teachers use time in school. So one decision is many


In this chapter, I look closely at Karen. I want to acknowledge that looking

closely at Karen involves my representing her to you. This means that I

analyze the teaching Karen did in her classroom and what happened to her

within, around, and because of her teaching. Brueggeman (1996) wrote

that “there was no way by the end of my fieldwork that I felt I could neatly

separate out my personal and professional roles and feelings” (p. 31).

Knowing Karen, I felt the same way and wanted her as a partner in this

work. The sad part is that Karen cannot participate as a co-author of this

chapter or book. It falls to me to present her to you. My goal is to present

her in a way that is indicative of the great respect that I hold for her as a

teacher, thinker, and decision maker. I hope that you, as a reader, find my

representation of her to be clear, fair, and not presumptuous.