10 SES 13 A, Professional Development and Dialogue
University-based teacher preparation has been the focus of intense scrutiny and criticism in Europe and internationally. For example, a recent report by the European Commission began with an argument for the “urgent need to improve Initial Teacher Education,” [ITE] which, it noted, is the “first, crucial step” toward improving education more generally (European Commission [EC], 2015). Similarly, the need for exploring the relationships between national policy changes and research capacity building in teacher education is drawing much needed in-depth analysis in the U.K. (Murray et al., 2009). In the US, the federal government has invested millions of dollars in teacher residency programs in order to improve university-based teacher education. Residency programs provide residents with immersion in K-12 schools over the course of an entire school year along with a graduate program designed to provide a theoretical grounding and to strengthen knowledge mobilisation (Cain, Wieser, & Livingston, 2016) across the K-12 school and university contexts. In addition, residency models typically provide induction support to beginning teachers, reflecting a growing international consensus that teacher education should exist on an “integrated continuum” (EC, 2015), rather than ending with the conferral of teaching credentials.
Meanwhile, teacher educators have emphasized the need to keep social justice and equity at the center of teacher education programs in order to develop the next generation of teachers who advocate for all students and work to transform their schools into inclusive spaces where all students are valued and can learn (e.g., Agarwal, Epstein, Oppenheim, Oyler & Sonu, 2010; Zeichner, 2009). As faculty, staff, and researchers in an urban teacher residency program that aims to prepare residents to teach for social justice in high-need schools in an urban district in the U.S. (Authors, 2016), we, the authors of this paper, have experienced firsthand the possibilities and challenges of implementing a residency program in the current sociopolitical context. This critical co-constructed autoethnography (Cann & DeMeulenaere, 2012) addresses the following questions:
● What dilemmas in teacher education did we face in the design and implementation of an urban teacher residency program in the current socio-political context?
● How did we, as faculty and staff of the teacher residency program, reflect on and act upon these dilemmas through our implementation of the residency program?
● How do we see our ongoing reflection and development of the program having an impact on the development of our students, members of the next generation of K-12 public school teachers?
In this study, we draw upon Cochran-Smith and colleagues’ (2016) framework for putting “equity in the center of teacher education” (p. 69). Cochran-Smith and colleagues outline four tasks for putting equity in the center of teacher preparation, including (1) describing broad problems of inequity in education that should be challenged in and through teacher preparation; (2) defining teaching practice for equity; (3) creating “curricula and program structures that are equity-centered, complex, and finely-tuned to the patterns of inequality and inequity that characterize particular local histories and contexts; and, (4) developing and executing programs of research for studying teacher education with the dual purposes of continuously improving local programs, on one hand, and building theory about how, why, to what extent, and under what conditions teacher candidates learn to enact practice that challenges inequities” (p. 68).
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