14 SES 03, Teachers' Perspectives on Home-school Relationships
The recent Education and Training in Europe 2020 Report (European Commission (EC), 2013a) outlines education and training priorities around four thematic areas: early school leaving (ESL); higher education; youth employment and vocational education and training; and lifelong learning. Regarding ESL specifically, European Union member responses emphasize the need to support children from low socio-economic, migrant or disadvantaged minority backgrounds, particularly in urban areas given, typically, high concentrations of disadvantaged populations. Additionally, their responses focus on preparing teachers to work cooperatively with families and communities of such populations in order to leverage students’ strengths and community resources. Such partnerships are seen as essential to students’ success.
In line with this theme, our study examines how one teacher certification program prepares teachers to engage with urban communities by reimagining what we mean by “partnerships.” We expand conceptions of school-university partnerships to include the wider community, highlighting the notion of partnering with cities to enrich teacher preparation curriculum and extend teacher candidate learning in—and of—the community. As such communities are not just a rich resource, but more importantly become a source of place-based learning for teacher candidates given growing understandings of location-specific teacher preparation (Matsko & Hammerness, 2014). This is particularly relevant in urban teacher preparation, given commonplace definitions of urban—and by association, urban schools and students—as pathological, deficient, dangerous, and failing (Noguera, 2003; Scherer, 2005; Watson, 2011). By deliberately re-defining “city” and its communities as partners in preparing teachers, the program in this study sought to “change the center of gravity in teacher education to provide a stronger role for schools and communities in the education of teachers” (Zeichner, 2006, p. 3), and enable the development of “community teachers” (Murrell, 2001; Zygmunt et al., 2016) who see teaching as a “social practice,” (Schussler, Feiman-Nemser, Diez, & Murrell, 2014, p. 4), framed by the intersection of schools, communities, cultures, and cities.
Our context is an urban teaching residency program that aims to prepare educators who are culturally grounded, socially aware, and inclusive in their ability to embrace city-urban-students. We argue that this kind of teaching/teacher depends on relational knowledge, in addition to personal and professional understandings. Relational knowledge is grounded in meaning making (Pesek & Kershner, 2000), enabling teacher candidates to discern capacity and value in the communities where their students live. Relational knowledge also emphasizes the building of relationships (Boyd, MacNeill & Sullivan, 2006)—not only relationships residents can build with the city in order to come to know the city, but also the relationships their students have with their (urban) communities, and how all these different ways of knowing urban communities can become fertile ground for interpersonal connections among students, teachers/residents, and culturally responsive pedagogy. In our study, we ask: What personal, professional, and relational knowledge about “urban/city” do residents bring to—and gain from—their explorations of urban communities? We analyze residents’ learning from community explorations in a U.S. central city, an assignment designed to develop ‘eyes of capacity’--to see the urban communities as places of possibility, rich cultures, and sources of culturally relevant curriculum.
Our study contributes a unique perspective on partnership building and shares ways that engaging urban communities as sites of learning can deepen teacher candidate understanding about culture, community, and city, and inform teacher preparation curricula. Our work also speaks to the conference theme by offering a contextualized portrait of “local translations” in response to “transnational reform pressure” (ECER, 2017, p. 1) to meet the academic and socio-emotional needs of school populations that are increasingly diverse racially, linguistically, socio-economically, in the U.S., across Europe, and indeed in most places of the world.
Bogdan, R. & Biklen, S. (2007). Qualitative research in education. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Boyd, R., MacNeill, N., & Sullivan, G. (2006). Relational pedagogy: Putting balance back into students’ learning. Curriculum and Leadership, 4(13). Retrieved from http://www.curriculum.edu.au/leader/relational_pedagogy:_putting_balance_back_into_s tu,13944.html?issueID=10277 ECER. (2017). Call for Proposals. Retrieved from http://www.eera-ecer.de/fileadmin/user_upload/Pictures/ECER_Logos_and_Pictures/ECER_2017/ECER_2017_Call_for_Proposals_fin.pdf European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice. (2013a). Education and Training in Europe 2020: Responses from the EU Member States. Eurydice Report. Brussels: Eurydice. European Commission. (July, 2013b). Supporting teacher competence development for better learning outcomes. Retrieved from http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/education_culture/repository/education/policy/school/doc/teachercomp_en.pdf Maxwell, J. (2012). Qualitative Research Design: An Interactive Approach. 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage. Matsko, K. K., & Hammerness, K. (2014). Unpacking the “urban” in urban teacher education: Making a case for context-specific preparation. Journal of Teacher Education, 65(2), 128-144. Murrell, P. (2001). The community teacher. NY: Teachers College Press. Moll, L., Amanti, C., Neff, D., & Gonzalez, N. (1992). Funds of knowledge for teaching: Using a qualitative approach to connect homes and classrooms. Theory into Practice, 31(2), 132-141. Noguera, P. (2003). City schools and the American dream. NY: Teachers College Press. Pesek, D., & Kershner, D. (2000). Interference of instrumental instruction in subsequent relational learning. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 31, 524-540. Scherer, M. (2005). Perspectives/Our cities, ourselves. Educational Leadership, 62(6), 7. Watson, D. (2011). What do you mean when you say urban” Speaking honestly about race and students. Rethinking Schools, 26(1), 48-50. Schussler, D., Feiman-Nemser, S., Diez, M., & Murrell, P. (2014). Swimming in deep waters. Democracy and Education, 20(2), 1-5. Zeichner, K. (2006). Reflections of a university-based teacher educator on the future of college- and university-based teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education , 57(3) 326-340. Zygmunt, E., Clark, P., with Clausen, J., Mucherah, W., & Tancock, S. (2016). Transforming teacher education for social justice. New York: Teachers College Press.
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