10 SES 06 C, Dilemmas and Competencies in Teacher Education
Encouraging enduring patterns of adaptive behaviors is a social priority, and there are a growing number of interventions that organize service experiences to encourage students to take initiative in communities around the world. Service experiences in teacher education are often described as essential to the improvement of practice, and may promote the development of multicultural competencies. Field experiences provide an opportunity for role integration, career goal clarification, and civic engagement. This research examines the experience of teacher candidates mentoring high need students in an integrated academic service-learning project, and explores the benefits of participation.
Demographic shifts around the world require organizational change and development. For instance, by 2020 students from a racial minority background will comprise one of every three students in public schools in the U.S. (NCES, 2000). Unfortunately, the achievement gap between minority and majority students has widened over the past 15 years, reversing decades of steady improvement in educational equity (Harris & Herrington, 2006). Scholars have suggested methods to help school professionals focus on closing the achievement gap (Ware & Galassi, 2006), to play larger roles in school reform by embracing the role of advocate and consultant (Bemak & Chung, 2005; Hipolito-Delgado & Lee, 2007), and to increase classroom teachers’ multicultural awareness, sensitivity, and competence (Bemak & Chung, 2008).
There is broad international interest in promoting multicultural competencies through the organization of service experiences. Service experiences in teacher education are often described as essential to the development of practice, moving individuals from an apprenticeship of observation to apprenticeship of action (Lortie, 1975). These experiences introduce participants to the social contexts of learning and development, provide critical cultural experiences, and may prepare them for the adoption of professional roles in the community. Nieto (1996) argued that while learning about the other is necessary, it is not sufficient; one must also learn about their own biases and prejudices. Service learning opportunities have been recently used as a means of both learning about diverse populations and uncovering one’s inherent bias (Culp, Chepyator-Thomson, & Hsu, 2009; Moore-Hart, 2002).
This paper examines the lived experience of individuals involved mentoring high need students in an integrated academic service-learning project, and explores the perceived benefits of service participation. This presentation will summarize original research about the development of multicultural competencies for future classroom teachers, and offer strategies to facilitate such growth among educators.
In the current study, we are interested in determining if service involvement can promote multicultural competencies and provide pathways for sustained prosocial behaviors for educators and school professionals. We explore factors and experiences contributing to the development of multicultural competencies among future classroom teachers, examine how educators’ multicultural competency affects students’ educational and psychosocial outcomes, and consider effective practices for classroom teachers regarding the development of multicultural competencies.
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