14 SES 11 A, Teacher Education and Schooling in Rural Communities Worldwide
For teacher education, the challenge of engaging more deeply with community is about righting imbalances and giving community members a voice in how those teaching their/our children will be prepared and informed. It involves a systemic shift in governance and power. This shift requires an institutionally embedded strategy to allow Indigenous and other historically disadvantaged communities across the globe an audible voice at the decision-making table, in central rather than tokenistic ways. In this paper, we report on the early stages of a teacher education intervention based on the research question, ‘How can teacher education be done differently to represent the desires of families and communities most seldom heard?’
We premise this paper on our understanding that the education system, including teacher education, is political. How teacher education is conceived, organized and practiced may appear neutral, but, of course, it is as contextually dependent and historically produced as any other aspect of education. We may argue that teacher education is at the whim or mercy of global, national and local policy, teacher registration and teacher standards, but what is left out of teacher education is as important as what is included. What we ask students in Education degrees to study, read and submit for assessment, and what we ask them to do in school classrooms represents priorities that may have little to do with how historically excluded communities wish their children to be cared for and what they want all teachers to understand about learning and teaching. Community voice is regularly missing in decisions about how we educate future teachers, and the needs, desires and dreams of the communities we serve can become invisible. In this paper, we argue that to improve the current system, teachers and teacher educators must find genuine ways to engage with communities, especially those most seldom heard, such as families in rural communities in the US (Clark et. al, 2016), Indigenous communities in Australia (Martin, 2008) or Roma communities in Europe (Flecha, 2015).
Local communities should have a more powerful, active place in influencing teacher education, because “it matters who participates and on what terms” (Fraser, 2008, p. 1). Nancy Fraser’s (2008) ideas about inclusivity and participatory parity, weak and strong publics are useful concepts when trying to re-imagine teacher education and genuine community engagement. Opinions generated without input from the very communities most affected by how teachers are prepared is negligent. Through our research we have an opportunity to “bridge the gap between culture and power between parents and educators” (Warren et al., 2009, p. 2211). This requires explicit and authentic effort, and one might argue, political and institutional intent.
An intervention as method is selected for its ability to design and test a program of activities in order to change or reverse an existing trend. Characteristics of interventions demonstrated to have impact include i) interventions that are part of an extended program); ii) interventions designed for ‘real world’ implementation; iii) research embedded in practice, and interventions that are simple but effective (Newson et., al, 2015). Designed as a longitudinal, intervention over three years, the community-engaged teacher education program that informs this research proposes to disrupt how teacher education is typically done. Through staged engagement with local communities over the three years, we aim to investigate and evaluate the extent to which a community-informed and engaged teacher education program can make a difference to the experiences of pre-service teachers, the agency of marginalized communities in influencing the experiences and outcomes of their young people, and the involvement of communities in school practices. The first phase of this project involves four focus groups with local communities (one in a low SES urban community and three in each of the regional campuses of one large Australian university). The initial representation of participating community stakeholders informs the remainder of the project and include families, Indigenous elders and community leaders. The composition of these groups represents the increasing sense of urgency around including Indigenous voice in the preparation and ongoing professional development of teachers (Gillan et. al, 2017) as well as refugee communities (Graham & Scott, 2016). The participation of voices from these historically marginalized groups is understood as key not just to a passionately engaged teaching workforce, but one where teachers deeply understand the communities in which they teach. The themes and recommendations from these focus groups will provide a unique perspective, with the analysis contributing new theory about what the most vulnerable communities wish for in developing professional learning of teachers for their own local contexts. These participants will make up a community reference group to advise throughout.
As part of a wider social change agenda, the inclusion of community voices is purposeful in its desire to impact on the redesign of one large teacher education program in Australia. While this first phase of focus groups represents the beginning of the project, its potential is in its immediate and long-term capacity to provide an evidence base for influencing a range of new practices within the Initial Teacher Education sector. While the needs and recommendations of communities will mostly likely converge at points, the inclusion of four separate groups of stakeholders is intended to respect local and contextual differences of communities, some in neighbourhoods with significant homelessness and urban poverty, others with large numbers of Indigenous families and one rural community in particular where the unique resettlement of asylum seekers has recently taken place. Thus it is expected that common themes will emerge as well as unique, place-based perspectives that will impact differently, to a degree, over each of the campuses. Outcomes of what is learned in the focus groups will inform i) how pre-service teachers engage with local families before their first professional experience placement (practicum) and throughout their Initial Teacher Education Program; ii) the development of community perspectives embedded in curriculum throughout their program; iii) the design of culturally appropriate assessment throughout the course as well as a review of culturally safe practices and iv) a systemic approach to community-engagement that becomes mainstream and permanent business of the School of Education.
Clark, P., Zygmunt, E., & Howard, T. (2016). Why race and culture matter in schools, and why we need to get this right: A conversation with Dr. Tyrone Howard. The Teacher Educator, 51(4), 268–276. Flecha, R. (2015). Successful Educational Actions for Inclusion and Social Cohesion in Europe. Fraser, N. (2008). Scales of justice: Reimagining political space in a globalizing world. New York: Columbia University Press. Gillan, K., Mellor, S. & Krakouer, J. (2017). The case for urgency: Advocating an Indigenous voice in education. Australian Education Review. Melbourne: ACER Press. Graham, L. & Scott, W. (2016). Teacher preparation for inclusive education: Initial teacher education and in-service professional development. Melbourne: Victoria Department of Education and Training. Martin, K. (2008). Please knock before you enter: Aboriginal regulation of outsiders and the implications for researchers. Teneriffe, Qld.: Post Pressed. Warren, M. R., Hong, S., Rubin, C. L., & Uy, P. S. (2009). Beyond the bake sale: A community-based relational approach to parent engagement in schools. Teachers College Record, 111(9), 2209–2254.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
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Network 10. Teacher Education Research
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Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
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Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
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Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
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Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
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Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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