10 SES 03 D, Inclusive Education
This paper explores two successful efforts to create teacher education experiences that prepare teachers to design inclusive classrooms. Although these teacher education projects are located on different sides of the globe, they share a commitment to the preparation of social justice educators. Both highlight the power of university/school collaboration and the significance of preservice teacher learning through carefully crafted and thoughtfully supported embedded experiences in classrooms. Both studies analyse how schools and universities work together to support undergraduate students during their initial teaching experiences. A substantial amount of research describes the influence that teacher education has on children’s learning and academic performance (Cochran-Smith and Zeichner 2005; Baker et al. 2008; Mutton, Burn and Hagger 2010; Achinstein and Athanases, 2005). Despite recognition of the importance of critical reflection on actual teaching, teacher educators often fail to fully capitalize on the classroom embedded experiences of preservice teachers.
Research Question and Objectives: How might universities and schools work together to prepare preservice teachers to teach all children, particularly children who do not share the linguistic and cultural backgrounds of the preservice teachers? This paper considers two case studies of embedded teacher preparation in literacy classrooms. The first case explores how embedded experiences in classrooms can be used to help teachers become more responsive to children and to see beyond their biases and assumptions. The second case, explores two embedded literacy learning practices Dialogic Literary Gatherings and Interactive Groups. These experiences provide novice teachers with opportunities to examine the theoretical basis of their actions and to revisit those actions as they work alongside mentor teachers.
Decades of research, grounded in sociocultural theory, has proven that the capability for human learning is activated through shared learning, interaction, communication, and reflection (Alexander, 2004; Mercer, 1995; Purcell-Gates, Melzi, Najafi & Orellana, 2011, Resnick, Asterhan & Clarke, 2015; Wells & Mejía Arauz, 2006). Therefore, classrooms and schools should be transformed according to this scientific evidence to become more dialogic and interactive. We argue that both of the preservice teacher education experienced described in this paper share attention to generative themes (Freire, 1986) gleaned through reflection on classroom-based embedded teaching experiences and attention to issues of equity and social justice. Generative themes entail the ideas, concepts, hopes, values and challenges that drive and inspire teachers. In Freire’s work with Brazilian laborers, these themes included liberation, domination, and freedom. For educators, we focus on the understandings and insights that drive teachers forward inviting them to challenges practices and policies that do not lead to inclusion, belonging, and learning for children.
We draw on generative theories of teacher education to suggest that teachers must develop generative theories of teaching. Teachers, who nurture generative theories about teaching spontaneously and readily incorporate new skills and strategies into their teaching practices. They view themselves as capable and agential even in challenging instructional situations. When generative teachers encounter diverse ways of acting, being, and valuing, they do not judge or lament. Teacher with generative theories about teaching and children routinely engage in self-introspection as a means to dismantle problematic beliefs and biases. They readily seek and incorporate novel ways of thinking that are grounded on their respect for all children and their families. We argue that generative education that honors social justice is best developed in classrooms through embedded work with children. To explore what we refer to as generative education, we explore two teacher preparation programs – in Spain and in the United States - that engage preservice teachers in a synergy of emerging cultural competence and embedded field experiences in literacy classrooms.
While both cases involve preservice teachers, the studies were designed and conducted separately. It was only after the two studies were completed and the researchers had opportunities to share their respective work that areas of congruence and the relevance of embedded classroom experiences and generative theory building about teaching became apparent. Case 1 Methodology This longitudinal project was conducted by four teacher educators/researchers who taught separate sections of two literacy methods education courses. Over more than 10 years, the instructors who taught these classes – including some who are now retired - met regularly to collaboratively revisit and revise the courses. In addition, the practices that have come to define these courses have been refined and re-envisioned. The unique generative nature of this data set is grounded in the embedded nature of the course. Each semester the instructor collaborates with a classroom teacher. Each undergraduate student is assigned to work with one child from this class for the entire semester. During each class session, the preservice teachers partner with their assigned child to work on skills and strategies introduced by the course instructor. As part of this reflective process, each course instructors has collected interviews with and observations of preservice teachers, and samples of preservice teachers’ writing. These have been analyzed to explore how attention to both reflective teaching and social justice combine to contribute to learning about teaching. Case 2 Methodology A qualitative analysis of 10 semi-structured interviews and 10 observations of 10 student teachers involved in the implementation of the interactive learning contexts in the schools were conducted. By means of participating in the implementation of Dialogic Literary Gatherings (DLG) and Interactive Groups (IG) initial student teachers first debated the theoretical basis of the actions and later put into practice together with the school teachers. DLG involves a school classroom session sharing ideas on a common reading of the Universal Classic Literature, according specific chapters for the session and after the reading students share in class the selected passages and discuss the text in relation to life experiences and opinions. IG is a specific class organization with heterogeneous grouping of 4-5 students working on a task for short periods of time with an adult (volunteer) promoting egalitarian participation. The aim of IG is to solve the task with the participation of all the students in the group.
Both studies have found that preservice teachers are extremely satisfied with their embedded teaching experiences and the effect it has had on their becoming capable teachers. Qualitative data from these studies, reveals processes of learning as teacher move from generic teaching strategies, to teaching practices that are not only responsive to the literacy learning of children, but also to the linguistic and cultural ways of being that children bring to classrooms. In addition, data reveals improvement in the students’ academic performance and prosocial behaviour. These experiences also reveal an improvement and consolidation of knowledge by preservice teachers, more substantial theoretical understandings, and greater practical knowledge of teaching. While school-university partnerships – including the ones described in this paper still needs further research to clarify the impact of the practices described above, there is promising evidence that embedded teacher education experiences alongside opportunities to develop generative theories positively impact teaching and eventually the learning of children.
Alexander, R. T. (2004). Towards Dialogic Teaching: Rethinking Classroom talk. Cambridge: Dialogos. Achinstein, B., and S.Z. Athanases. (2005). Mentors in the making: Developing new leaders for new teachers. New York: Teachers College Press. Baker, C., G.S. Johnson, L.Williams, D.G. Perkins and S.A. Rainey. (2008).“The highlander research and education center: Utilizing social change-based models for public policy. Race, Gender & Class 15(3-4): 308-334. Cochran-Smith, M. and K. Zeichner. (2005). Studying Teacher Education. The Report of the AERA Panel on Research and Teacher Education. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Freire, P. (1986). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum. Mercer, N. (1995) The Guided Construction of Knowledge: talk amongst teachers and learners. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Mutton, T., K. Burn and H. Hagger. (2010). Making sense of learning to teach: learners in context. Research Papers in Education 25 (1): 73–91. Purcell‐Gates, V., Melzi, G., Najafi, B., & Orellana, M. F. (2011). Building Literacy Instruction From Children’s Sociocultural Worlds. Child Development Perspectives, 5(1), 22-27. Resnick, L.B., Asterhan, C.S.C., & Clarke, S.N. (2015). Socializing intelligence through academic talk and dialogue. Washington, DC: AERA. Wells, G., & Mejía Arauz, R. (2006). Dialogue in the classroom. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 15, 379-428.
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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