Dr. Cher Hill is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University. Her primary areas of expertise include teacher education, qualitative research methods, and practitioner-inquiry, as well as reflective and diffractive practice. Her current scholarship utilizes new materialist theories and to make visible the complex entanglements between humans and more-than-humans within educational contexts. Dr. Hill is a passionate supporter of community-based, participatory learning initiatives. Her recent work involves collaborating with community partners to educate citizens about the impact of colonialism on the Fraser watershed and mobilizing them to restore local creeks.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself including your academic and professional backgrounds.
I have assumed various roles within the Faculty of Education over the past decade and have been privileged to work with many colleagues on many diverse projects focusing on gender-equity, internationalization, in-service teacher education, pre-service teacher education, new materialist research, place-conscious education, and decolonizing pedagogies.
My scholarship is very eclectic and has often involved the exciting challenge of delving into areas of literature that are unfamiliar to me. This past year for example, I was learning about riparian management that can offset the effects of climate change. I am very influenced by the scholarship of Rosi Bradotti and her conceptualizations of nomadic subjectivity and intellectual camping. She understands ‘subjectivity’ as always in flux and encourages working across various scholarly traditions in creative ways to address current issues. I can feel scattered at times, and sometimes I think to myself “I can’t believe I am doing this.” However, the underlying themes of equity and justice, the flourishing of communities, living-life as inquiry, and working across boundaries, are foundational aspects that cut across all of my projects and serve to ground me. I find that my scholarship is most generative when I work across disciplines, knowledge systems and disrupt the personal/professional divide.
Your research focuses on practitioner inquiry and in-service teacher education. Why are they important?
I feel that practitioner inquiry is invaluable to all educators as the issues we face in classrooms and in communities are constantly shifting. This has never been clearer than during the pandemic when teachers had to reinvent their practice as educators literally overnight, with little to no support. Nothing could have prepared teachers for the challenges they faced in 2020, but even prior to the pandemic, teachers were working to address issues in schools that were likely not part of their teacher training, including the mental health crisis, supporting students who came to Canada as refugees, and enacting the new BC curriculum.
Through inquiry into their own practice as educators, teachers have the capacity to self direct their professional learning and are empowered as producers of local knowledge. They can work to align their actions with their values, and can develop responses that address the unique nature of their specific teaching contexts. Practitioner-inquirers work at the very intersection of theory and practice to enliven scholarship and in collaboration with others, critically and creatively lead change in schools.