The following article was originally published in PNEIG October 2015 Newsletter.

PNEIG Workshop

Reflecting on a workshop with Dr. Jasna Schwind and Dr. Gail Lindsay—


On September 25, 2015 clinical nurse educators and nursing faculty from across Ontario met in Toronto for a three hour workshop with Dr. Jasna Schwind and Dr. Gail Lindsay. Our purpose as nursing educators was to explore different and emerging approaches to teaching and learning, particularly when exploring troubling practice events.

As an education-practice community (PNEIG) we have become increasingly concerned with the climate in which nursing is occurring. We hear stories from nurses (students, new graduates, and expert RNs) about being caught up in ‘not good practice’. We are challenged to consider how difficult and unsettling it can be to navigate troubling care events, and the emotional, physical, and moral residue such events can have on individual’s well being over time. We invited Dr. Jasna Schwind and Dr. Gail Lindsay to spend an afternoon with us, introducing for many of us a different approach in which to consider teaching and learning.

In the course of three hours, Schwind and Lindsay introduced us to art-based and narrative inquiry. At first many of us were unsure as to how this approach maybe useful in our daily practice. We created lifelines (art-based inquiry), visual maps representing the turning points in our professional and personal lives, and then shared with one another our drawings and what they meant. For example, this picture represents my lifeline (Michelle Spadoni).

horizonIt is a horizon, reflecting that I was born and lived much of my childhood in northern Canada (past the tree line in the land of the northern lights), and that for me, the turning points in my life were not so much specific events separated by personal and professional life, but an ever evolving and growing intertwined space of meaningful life moments (thus the circle motion starting small and continuously moving outward), other colleagues created word timelines. Irrespective of how we approached it, we learned that RNs’ meaningful life experiences, interwoven with their early learning experiences, shape how they think about their everyday practice and moreover, say something about how they articulate their professional identities. Listening to one another speak about our development from childhood into adulthood and into nursing, was intriguing. It is amazing how our professional and personal identity develops overtime and influences the choices we make in our career. Discovering the turning points, where we choose new directions and why. The moments when we realize that we need and long for change, or the moments when we feel overwhelmed by a particular troubling practice event, and how that moment changes how we think about practice.

We considered how meaningful moments (good or bad) stay with us, and become a part of us, surfacing in the most unexpected ways. Through the process, Schwind and Lindsay helped us to consider what is both meaningful and, at times troubling, about our practice as educators, and how to critically explore our ‘practice stories’. Schwind and Lindsay (2015) suggest that nurse educators weave sacred (received knowledge), secret (our everyday lived experience) and cover stories (stories that show how educators position themselves to be acceptable, to do what they think is expected of them) together to account for one’s teaching practice.

free-flowIn another example of art-based and narrative inquiry, an art piece was created through a reflective space, where each participant was given a piece of art paper and asked to free flow our drawing as we settled back and listened to a piece of music, thinking about the challenges of our teaching lives. Then we passed the paper to the person next to us and the process was repeated, and around the paper was passed to those sitting at our table, each person free forming with pencil, adding something to our drawing. It creates a beautiful representation of the messiness and connectivity of our teaching lives. It provides a means in which to consider graphically the complexity of our teaching-learning stories.

What we learned: Art-based and narrative inquiry can be useful in everyday practice, these sorts of approach maybe helpful in uncovering the larger structural issues that shape our everyday practice (e.g., same day discharge). These approaches maybe useful for practitioners who are concerned with trying to understand troubling practice events, and what is happening in moments of ‘the best we can do’. This sort of approach might be useful for nurse educators working with RNs who are at a cross roads in their practice, wanting badly to change, or even when practitioners want to leave nursing because they feel they are unable to cope. Ultimately, we had an amazing afternoon together. It offered a space for us individually and collectively to reconsider how professional and personal turning points shape our choices as practitioners, our growth and development (formation), and ultimately how we choose to ‘be’ with one an other.