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Tep Vol 19-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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11 Articles

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Editorial: Learning Our Identity as Teacher—Teacher Identity as Palimpsest

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PATRICK M. JENLINK

We grow as we choose the projects by which we create our identities.

—Dewey (1916, p. 404)

Just as place and interpersonal relations function to condition and elaborate identity, so too do acts of narration.

—Sumara (1998, p. 203)

The student becoming a teacher must carve out an identity space for himor herself. Often this space is in the so-called borderland between identity positions or situated discourses, and is a space of continual becoming rather than an endpoint culminating in a singular identity construction.

—Alsup (2006, pp. 6–7)

At the heart of teaching is a fundamental question of who we are, both as people and as teachers, which revolves uneasily around the notion of self—a coherent, perduring frame of reference that remains constant from one day to the next, one year to the next and the next, and so on. For the teacher, such a conception of oneself is challenged by everyday experience, which reveals an undeniable mutability—a structural permeability to change—within one’s sense of self. The question of who we are is a question of identity, a question of what it means to be a teacher in the particular social, cultural, historical, and political contexts in which schools are situated, in this particular moment.

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Shaping a Borderland Professional Identity: Funds of Knowledge of a Bilingual Education Teacher

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LINDA GUARDIA JACKSON

 

ABSTRACT: This study is an attempt to tell the story of a Mexican American bilingual education teacher whose professional and personal life spans the beginning of modern bilingual education to the present atmosphere of “accountability.” Her voice connects the macro and micro aspects of being a minority educator in the contested context of bilingual education in the public school system. Through examination of identity and agency formed through and in these multiple discourses, I attempt to analyze a bilingual educator’s “ways of knowing,” to understand resistance and transformation in the liminal space of “borderlands.” Through the investigation of the epistemology of a bilingual educator, I believe that there is the possibility of gaining insight into the shaping of a professional identity and the process of teacher transformation.

I was going to my first interview with Luz. That Saturday, as I walked down the darkened halls of Oak Elementary, my attention was caught by a large, lighted display case. Stopping to peer through the glass, I saw pictures of the old Oak Elementary from 100 years ago. The façade of the building in the photograph brought memories rushing back to me. As I intently looked at the old class pictures, I noticed that there was not anyone of color among the children or teachers.

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The Type of Teacher I Don’t Want to Be: Constructing Teacher Identity Through Converse Descriptions and Student Voice

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BETH A. WASSELL

ABSTRACT: This article illustrates how narratives provided by Ian, a beginning science and mathematics teacher, and by some of his urban high school students contribute to Ian’s process of identifying. Through the use of narrative inquiry, I demonstrate how the narratives use converse descriptions to portray Ian’s identity in terms of the type of teacher that he does not want to be. Analyzed with support from other forms of data, the narratives show congruence between Ian’s designated identity and his actual identity (Sfard & Prusak, 2005). Throughout the article, I emphasize the importance of beginning teachers’ process of identifying and its significance for teacher preparation and induction, especially for preparing preservice teachers to work with diverse student populations.

How do individuals begin to conceptualize who they will be and what they will do as classroom teachers? Once beginning teachers are able to elucidate who they think that they will be, what they will value, or what they will do in the classroom, how does this compare with what they actually do as in-service teachers? In this article, I use narratives provided by Ian, a beginning science and mathematics teacher, and by some of his students to analyze his process of identifying. Using the narratives, I illustrate the coherence between the Ian’s designated identity, or who he hopes to be as a teacher, and his actual identity as a beginning teacher.

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Foregrounding Preservice Teacher Identity in Teacher Education

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SJ MILLER

ABSTRACT: The article examines, through comparative case study method, how secondary-language-arts preservice student teachers’ identities were constructed by spacetime configurations and what those identities meant to the individuals in the study. It reflects on the findings from two of the preservice secondary arts teachers for the study in two differently structured teacher education programs, and it looks at how those teaching identities were influenced by spatial and temporal configurations, which constructed a particular identity during the spacetime of the study.

Identity matters because it, whatever it is, shapes or is an aspect of how humans make sense of the world and their experiences in it.

—McCarthey and Moje (2002, p. 228)

Education is not an isolated profession, nor is it immune to changes in policy at the international, national, state, and local levels; as such, teachers’ identities are vulnerable to shifts, along with the profession. As a result of the shifting nature of our field and the multiple contexts in which teachers engage, teachers’ identities will be reconstituted during the space-time that the identity is being coconstructed. Because of this complexity and the imminent whimsicality of change, it is difficult to understand how concurrent competing forces are affecting the preservice teacher. Preservice teacher identity is an area that has largely been neglected as a germane topic in teacher education, and as a result, it has been insufficiently researched (Britzman, 1991; Danielewicz, 2001; Vinz, 1996). Yet Lee and Yarger (1996) point out that “there are more than 2 million teachers in the nation’s schools. More than 1,200 higher education institutions [that] offer teacher preparation programs, producing 100,000 new teachers each year” (Kennedy, 1991, p. 16). These numbers represent a dichotomy, as well as a challenge and an opportunity, in teacher education to investigate the identity of the preservice teacher. Danielewicz (2001) says that teacher education programs should foster teacher identity development to the highest degree possible, and with the increasing numbers of student teachers being trained each year, teacher education has a moral responsibility and an obligation to understand the complexities of the matrix (Miller, 2005, forthcoming) that illuminates preservice teacher identity.

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Modern Schoolmarms and the Struggle for Gender Identity

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MICHELE KAHN

ABSTRACT: Boys and girls are enculturated into an adult life where men hold more power, make more money, and have higher self-esteem. Society, including the institutional practices of schooling, teaches and sustains inequitable gender roles. Extending “women’s work,” female teachers are instrumental in this reproductive process, unconsciously perpetuating through example and expectations the distinctive hierarchical identities that students will come to inhabit. Through a critical examination of teacher beliefs, this article illuminates how discourses revolving around traditional notions of womanhood influence how teachers construct their subjectivities as women, mothers, and teachers. Although traditional notions of women are not necessarily negative, they can limit how teaching and teachers are perceived. These teachers reveal their inner struggles with these traditional conceptions.

It is well established that gender inequities prevail in the American educational system (American Association of University Women, 1992, 1994, 1998, 2001a, 2001b; Ginorio & Huston, 2001; Sadker, 1999; Sadker & Sadker, 1994; Spencer, Porche, & Tolman, 2003). Girls in school tend to receive lower test grades and garner less attention from their teachers, and they are silenced and marginalized in class more often than boys. Unlike girls, boys receive more attention from teachers, both positive and negative, and they are more vocal in the classroom. There are also troubling gender differences in children’s social emotional development. According to Kindlon and Thompson (1999), boys tend to grow up emotionally illiterate, limited by acceptable masculine behavior, often resulting in aggression and violence. Girls, by contrast, display less-violent tendencies but are far more likely than boys to attempt suicide. However, although girls are more likely to attempt suicide, boys are more likely to succeed (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2004; Pipher, 1994). Additionally, when girls succeed in school, they are more likely to attribute their success to luck rather than skill (American Association of University Women, 1992; Mulhall, Flowers, & Mertens, 2002). Girls are underidentified for special education services whereas boys seem to be overidentified (American Association of University Women, 1998). Moreover, boys continue to maintain their customary success in math and science but consistently lag behind girls in reading and writing achievement (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2000).

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Elementary Teachers: Forming Political Identities as Social Agents

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KAREN SIRNA

ABSTRACT: This article examines tensions that elementary teachers negotiate in struggling to recognize themselves as having political identities as critical educators capable of influencing social change in education. Drawing from a 6-month collective case study with four female elementary teachers, the article discusses the research finding that teachers do not recognize themselves as agents of social change. Using data as support, the article presents and speculates on the ways that tensions in language and perceptions may influence the teachers’ lack of identification with working from a social justice perspective.

Teachers can do nothing to change the conditions in which their students may live, but they can work to change their own biases as well as the institutional structures that act as obstacles to student learning.

—Nieto (2000, p. 49)

Elementary schools, as part of broader society, express the social, political, cultural, and economic power struggles occurring within the social order. As a result of these dynamics, the interests, values, and knowledge of certain dominant groups are privileged, maintaining inequities and injustices between individuals and groups. These conditions influence teachers’ and children’s lives along with the ways in which they understand themselves and their role in education and society.

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Addressing “Who Am I?” Before “Who Are They?” When Facing Diversity

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JAN L. H. FRANK AND KERRY D. FRANK

ABSTRACT: Before we as teachers can even begin to address the question of “Who are our students?” we must first reflect on and analyze ourselves—who we are in terms of race, ethnicity, class, gender, culture, personality, and other important factors. Relating to our students, challenging their thinking and actions, and being voices for change all demand that we understand who we are and how our selves influence thinking, behavior, interaction, and perception.

As we face diversity in our schools, we realize that we must learn who our students are, what their interests and life experiences are, what they need, and what they bring to the teaching–learning context. We often overlook, however, the fundamental necessity of reflecting on who we are. Typically, educators reflect on their actions and what happens in the classroom (Brophy & Evertson, 1976; Good, 1983; Good & Brophy, 1994; Rosenshine, 1983; Schon, 1987), but rarely do we focus on who we are in terms of race, class, gender, culture, values, and life experiences (Marshall, 2002). All of who we are is brought to the teaching–learning context and has a significant impact on how we present ourselves to our students; how students see us; how we see our students; the curricular decisions we make; our management decisions; the pedagogy we choose; and how we interact with the families of our students, our colleagues, administrators, and school staff (Fong & Markus, 1982; Markus, Smith, & Moreland, 1985). Hamachek (1999) notes,

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Teacher Educators’ Narratives in a Multicultural Society: A Critical Discourse Analysis and Cultural Identity

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HANNA EZER

ABSTRACT: This study explores narratives of female teacher educators in Israel—Israeli-born Jews and Jewish immigrants—within the framework of critical discourse analysis. The oral narratives were obtained through personal in-depth interviews with six female teacher educators who work at two teacher education colleges in Israel. The findings reveal that the discourse of the Israeli-born educators is one of domination and power. Their language is self-centered, and their approach to others is top down. It is a “language of domination” that portrays them as “benefactors” of others. However, the discourse of the Jewish immigrant educators is a discourse of equality characterized by an “egalitarian language” in which the individual moves back and forth, starting from within the self and then reaching out to “others” and to society and then back again. In their language, they portray themselves as “protectors” of their group members. They position themselves as being driven by others in society or by social events and phenomena or as being encompassed by society. Critical discourse analysis of the narratives of these educators can shed light not only on their language but also on their different social groups and their cultural identity as reflected through their use of language.

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Oppression, Reflection, and Advocacy in the Classroom: One Teacher–Researcher Reflects on Her Research and Practices Involving African American Students

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MICHELLE HAJ-BROUSSARD

ABSTRACT: In this article, I—a White, French-immersion teacher–researcher—engage in a reflective examination of my research and teaching practices involving African American students. My critical reflection of my research examines the instruments used in my comparative study of African American students’ experiences in the French-immersion context and the regular education context. My concurrent reflection on myself as an instrument in the study and my own teaching practices revealed to me that despite my own “critical” awareness, I actually shared many of the oppressive practices and beliefs of regular education teachers. I realized, furthermore, that such beliefs were indeed oppressive to our African American students and ourselves, the teachers. The discussion of these findings unearths the complex issues that White teachers–researchers need to examine in working with African American students, and it reveals their implicatedness in the very systems of oppression that they are attempting to deconstruct.

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Kaleidoscope Feature

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Kaleidoscope Feature

ENORA R. BROWN

ABSTRACT: Teachers inherit and experience historical and current identificatory racial meanings born of social inequality that inform their teaching. Such meanings may undergird White teachers’ lower expectations for Black youth as opposed to those of Black teachers. In accord with other studies, this inquiry addresses the invisibility of Whiteness as privilege in White preservice teachers’ identities to promote equality in classrooms. It examines the place of race in their narrative self-constructions informed by personal and social histories, the impact of a revised course on their racial identities, and implications for their projected work with youth. Narrative and questionnaire analyses reveal preservice teachers’ acknowledging or disavowing race and privilege as dimensions of their identities informed by personal historical experiences. The course promoted change in meaning-imbued identities of preservice teachers and fostered their curricular and relational projections for teaching youth. This inquiry highlights the importance of self-knowledge and historical inquiry in fostering problem-posing education and in disruption dominative societal racial meanings internalized by teachers. Limitations of the politics of recognition are addressed.

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Book Review

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Book Review

(New York: Teachers College Press, 2006) 172 pages, $19.59

MARLA M. HOUCK

I fundamentally believe that educating all children, even those who are poor and non-White, is an achievable goal, if we truly value all children. Of course, that is the real question: Does American society truly value all of its children?

—Noguera (2003, p. 1)

Each of the eight chapters of Gary Howard’s book We Can’t Teach What We Don’t Know (2006) begins with a thought-provoking quote giving an indication of the chapter’s contents. Preservice educators, practicing educators, graduate students, scholars, and policymakers can all benefit from the contents of this passionate and instructional book. It provides knowledge about ways to improve academic achievement and race relations in today’s schools. The focus of the book is on reducing racial prejudice while creating an empowered school culture where all children and teachers can learn in an engaging and equitable classroom.

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