Medium 9781475819335

Tep Vol 21-N2

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Teacher Education and Practice, a peer-refereed journal, is dedicated to the encouragement and the dissemination of research and scholarship related to professional education. The journal is concerned, in the broadest sense, with teacher preparation, practice and policy issues related to the teaching profession, as well as being concerned with learning in the school setting. The journal also serves as a forum for the exchange of diverse ideas and points of view within these purposes. As a forum, the journal offers a public space in which to critically examine current discourse and practice as well as engage in generative dialogue. Alternative forms of inquiry and representation are invited, and authors from a variety of backgrounds and diverse perspectives are encouraged to contribute. Teacher Education & Practice is published by Rowman & Littlefield.

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8 Articles

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Editorial: Beyond Ideological Innocence in the Preparation of Teachers—The Need for Critical Teacher Educators

ePub

PATRICK M. JENLINK

Any discussion of pedagogy must begin with a discussion of educational practice as a form of cultural politics, as a particular way in which a sense of identity, place, worth, and about all value is informed by practices which organize knowledge and meaning.

—Simon (1987, p. 372)

Teacher educators must reconceptualize the manner in which new teachers are prepared, and provide them with the skills and knowledge that will be best suited for effectively educating today’s diverse student populations.

—Howard (2003, p. 195)

Critical teacher educators possess the difficult task of inducing students to challenge the very practices and ways of seeing they have been taught in their professional programs.

—Kincheloe (2004, p. 4)

Education is a political enterprise, hallmarked today by conflicting political agendas—neoconservative versus neoliberal—and made problematic by the inscription of dominant ideologies. Our concern as teacher educators is in large part to develop a way of thinking critically about the preparation of teachers within the historical social forms of our everyday existence, in a way that grasps schooling as a cultural and political space that embodies regulation and transformation, as conflicted with subjectivities and ideologies. As teacher educators, we are required to take a stance on the acceptability of such forms and so distinguish those forms that are not allowable owing to their dehumanizing and oppressive nature. We must understand that culture, both in the university-situated teacher education program and in the public school, is a particular relation between dominant and subordinate groups, expressed in a form of hierarchical and antagonistic relations that embody and produce particular forms of meaning and action, and that it remains for the most part unexplored in the discourse of relevance: culturally relevant to the students and culturally sensitive to the politics of difference that define our schools.

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Preservice Teachers’ Perspectives on Critical Pedagogy for Urban Teaching: Yet Another Brick in the Wall?

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J. AMOS HATCH

ABSTRACT: This article reports findings from a qualitative study of the complexities of introducing preservice teachers to critical pedagogies for urban teaching. The study documents students’ reactions to a set of seminar and reflective writing experiences around depictions of urban teachers in popular culture—in particular, Pink Floyd’s song “Another Brick in the Wall, Part II.” Findings utilize data excerpts to support conclusions that it is difficult for pre-service teachers to (a) critically analyze teaching in urban schools, (b) see beyond the personal/psychological effects of urban teachers’ behaviors and attitudes, (c) critically reflect on their own attitudes and behaviors in relation to urban teaching, and (d) recognize and deal with the paradoxes associated with offering the appearance of equal opportunity where none exists.

The purpose of this article is to present findings from a study of pre-service teachers’ perspectives on teaching in urban multicultural settings. The article focuses on exploring the complexities of introducing pre-service urban teachers—even those committed to social justice (perhaps, especially)—to transformative epistemologies and critical pedagogies. From a larger study of prospective urban teachers’ understandings of urban schools and communities, selected data are presented to represent the teachers’ different understandings, reactions, and responses to being confronted with a critical deconstruction of the illusion of equal opportunity and their place as urban teachers in the perpetuation of “small futures” (de Lone, 1979) for the children whom they are preparing to teach.

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Developing a Critical Lens Among Preservice Teachers While Working Within Mandated Performance-Based Assessment Systems

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GLENDA MOSS

ABSTRACT: This article addresses the dilemma of promoting critical pedagogy within portfolio assessment, which has been implemented in many teacher education programs to meet state and national mandates for performance-based assessment. It explores how one teacher educator works to move portfolio assessment to a level of critical self-reflection that prepares teachers to address the complex issues presented by a multicultural society. First, this article describes the ways that critical inquiry methods, democratic dialogue, and portfolio assessment can be integrated to the study of theory and preservice teachers’ self-reflection as a bridge to developing a critical lens for classroom practice and a democratic society. Second, it presents preservice teachers’ narratives of critical self-reflection.

The call by state and national accreditation policy makers for performance-based assessment has resulted in portfolio assessment systems in many, if not most, teacher education programs (R. S. Anderson & DeMuelle, 1998). It is important that teacher educators continually examine the impact of portfolio assessment on preservice teachers’ knowledge, dispositions, and teaching performance. Critical to that examination is an examination of the standards that frame teacher education programs. In the case of this study, the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium standards (1992) and the Indiana Professional Standards Board rules (2002) frame the portfolio assessment of preservice teachers’ learning products. The standards drive the interpretation of curriculum and instruction as preservice teachers submit portfolios with 30 artifacts and reflections that connect learning with knowledge, dispositions, and performance considered characteristic of reflective teachers. Thus, this study brings to the forefront the importance of examining the interplay between the standards and portfolio assessment for critical pedagogical development, and it addresses the dilemma of promoting critical pedagogy1 within portfolio assessment as a measurement for teacher certification.

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Exploring the Use of WebCT for Building Critical Thinking Skills of Hispanic Teacher Candidates

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CRISELDA GARCIA

ABSTRACT: Test-based education reform efforts continue to limit the number of minority teachers in the United States. Minority-serving institutions face numerous challenges in recruiting and preparing highly qualified minority teacher candidates for the academic demands of a changing teaching climate and the influx of a diverse student population in public schools. Based on recommendations from the existing literature for supporting minority teacher candidates, a web-based seminar was developed to strengthen the preparation of a group of prospective teachers by teaching them critical thinking skills in a teacher education program. Utilizing a sample of 86 preservice teachers (most of whom were Hispanic) at a South Texas minority-serving institution, a quasi-experimental non-equivalent comparison group design was used to measure their reading and critical thinking abilities, as determined by pre- and posttest scores of the Nelson–Denny Reading Test and the Watson–Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal. A series of one-way analyses of variance indicate statistically significant gains in reading and critical thinking skills for both the experimental group and the control group; however, between-subject analyses of variance failed to indicate that the increase in scores was sensitive to the WebCT seminar.

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Cultural Sensitivity: The Basis for Culturally Relevant Teaching

ePub

MAXIMINO PLATA

ABSTRACT: This article examines cultural sensitivity as a basis for culturally relevant teaching. It argues that classroom teachers are overwhelmed by the responsibility to educate an increasingly culturally diverse population. And because extant teaching strategies have failed to produce desired outcomes in these students, a culturally relevant curriculum based on teachers’ cultural sensitivity is proposed. Characteristics of culturally sensitive teachers and culturally responsive teaching are outlined. Finally, benefits of providing a culturally relevant curriculum are discussed.

Schools have the rare privilege of being a setting where individuals from varied cultural backgrounds and different languages, values, beliefs, and worldviews come together for an extensive period for a common purpose—to acquire an education. In the educational setting, classroom teachers are key professionals charged with the responsibility of transmitting important social and academic knowledge and skills. Therefore, teachers are a powerful force in the lives of students: What teachers perceive, believe, say, and do can disable or empower students (Kea & Utley, 1998).

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Reaching Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Families Through Differentiated Teacher Education and Practices

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KEVIN G. MURRY

SOCORRO G. HERRERA

ABSTRACT: The preparedness of grade-level classroom teachers to mutually accommodate the differential needs of culturally and linguistically diverse students is becoming increasingly essential. Levels of this preparedness are captured by the accommodation readiness spiral, a framework for understanding teacher education and professional development for classroom diversity. Critical to capacity-building efforts among teachers are the sociocultural dynamics of culturally and linguistically diverse students and families and the teacher’s readiness to maximize these dynamics. This article discusses myths concerning the sociocultural dimension, and it provides strategies for maximizing the potential contributions of culturally and linguistically diverse family members.

Increasing cultural and linguistic diversity is a reality in classrooms across the nation. Although this trend is not a new phenomenon, the rate of increase has been especially dramatic in many areas that have been largely homogeneous (Herrera & Murry, 2005; Johnson-Webb, 2001). For example, during the last decade of the 20th century, the Hispanic population in the Midwest region of the United States increased by more than 80%; indeed, some communities witnessed as much as a 162% increase in their Hispanic population (Johnson-Webb, 2001). Currently, the total number of culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students in public schools who are acquiring English as an additional language is more than 4.5 million (Abedi, 2004). It is estimated that by the year 2030, CLD students will constitute 40% of the school-age children in the United States (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000).

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Listening to the Voiceless: Student Voices and Democracy

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KAREN PACIOTTI

ABSTRACT: Even though the United States professes to be a democratic nation, one group of citizens is left out of the educational decision-making process. Whereas researchers, politicians, school administrators, attorneys, and political contributors are involved in critical decision making, curiously, student voices are not solicited. As such, the purpose of this article is twofold. The first is to examine the issue of student voice within the context of the standards-driven pedagogy and curriculum in Texas, important because the Texas model has influenced the federal standards and accountability mandates. The second is to describe how changes in pedagogy and curriculum, attention to multicultural and power issues, and research into children’s perceptions of effective teaching techniques can nurture a democratic educational system in Texas and elsewhere, even within the constraints of the high-stakes standards and accountability model.

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Book Review

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(Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2006), 216 pages, $26.95

STEPHEN MARBLE

In the best of all possible worlds, every teacher candidate would complete his or her teacher preparation program and move on to a successful career in teaching. Unfortunately, we sometimes find it necessary (and never easy) to advise candidates that “things are not working out” and that they should consider some other line of work. This unpleasant task becomes more difficult if we cannot clearly communicate exactly what we mean by “not working out” or if a candidate does not understand the rationale behind such a high-stakes decision. It takes time to learn from our mistakes, and teacher educators optimistically err in favor of marginal candidates, hoping that with practice they will come to recognize any shortcomings and so apply appropriate remedies.

In recent years, however, pressure on preparation programs to provide documented evidence of graduate quality has intensified. As Richard Arends explains in the first chapter of Assessing Teacher Performance, there is now “an unprecedented agreement among policymakers and among the various professional communities” (p. 16) about what teachers should know and be able to do, thereby allowing teacher educators “to move forward with developing programs and assessment systems with confidence that what they are doing is consistent with current conceptions of teaching and current knowledge about testing and performance assessment” (p. 16). Having clarified once-vague expectations for preservice candidates, teacher education is now charged with raising the quality bar by holding its graduates accountable to an increasingly standardized vision of teacher knowledge and skills.

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