Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Preparing Teachers for "Monday Morning" in the Urban School Classroom: Reflecting on Our Pedagogies and Practices as Effective Teacher Educators

Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Preparing Teachers for "Monday Morning" in the Urban School Classroom: Reflecting on Our Pedagogies and Practices as Effective Teacher Educators

Article excerpt

Research focuses on the need to prepare teachers effectively to serve the diverse population of students in public schools and particularly schools serving economically disenfranchised communities and communities of color (Cochran-Smith, 2003; Darling-Hammond, 2003; Milner, 2003; Oakes, Franke, Quartz, & Rogers, 2002). The articles in this special issue discuss myriad perspectives regarding the politics of preparing teachers to fill this great need in our society today. In this article, we extend the discussion to the classroom door; that is, we ask this of ourselves and our colleagues: Regardless of the politics of how, where, and under what conditions--those we choose and those that are imposed on us--are we effectively training teachers to teach in today's schools, particularly those located in the most difficult of social, political, and economic realities of urban life?

During the past 10 years, a number of issues pertaining to teacher educators' reflections on their pedagogies and practices have appeared in teacher education literature. This article discusses some of the dilemmas teacher educators face pertaining to addressing racial, socioeconomic, and cultural differences between teachers and students in our preparation of preservice teachers. These issues have enormous implications for our endeavors to effectively prepare teachers to teach in urban schools where unquestionably, the need is greatest for teachers who are well trained and confident in their ability to effectively nurture the academic well-being of their students.

Given the diverse population of students in today's public schools and the population of students entering teacher education programs, how are we, as teacher educators, addressing in our university classrooms this impact of compounded differences in the K-12 classroom? For the new teacher, these differences are usually manifested in their struggle with classroom management. Their struggle begs a related question for us: How do we, as teacher educators, address the issue of classroom management, particularly as the issue enters our classrooms through the mouths of teachers describing the behaviors of students who are from different races and class backgrounds than themselves? Lastly, how do we, as teacher educators, convince our preservice teachers that the academic excellence of these students is possible if the preservice teachers have neither witnessed nor been provided with any evidence of such an occurrence within the populations of students they serve in the urban school context? In other words, as we establish the harsh reality of disproportionate failure in urban schools, how do we simultaneously convey the possibility of improving academic achievement in these contexts? Can we, as teacher educators, convince our students of this possibility if we have never witnessed it ourselves? How do we cultivate a pedagogy of achievement pertaining to low-income and minority students in ourselves and then "teach" it to our students in the process of preparing them to be effective teachers for these students? These issues will be discussed in broad strokes to provoke further dialogue in light of the politics of teacher education highlighted throughout this special issue.

We begin by laying out the social, political, economic and cultural contexts of urban inner-city living and schooling--terrains that are often unfamiliar to the majority of teachers admitted into our teacher education programs and yet teachers whom we are required to prepare to teach in these settings. More important, yet often not addressed, is the fact that these terrains are often unfamiliar to many teacher educators as well. Ultimately, we conclude with the question, What does it mean to effectively prepare teachers to teach in schools and contexts with which we as teacher educators are also unfamiliar? We conclude with suggestions of ways to interrogate our own pedagogies and practices so that we may commence on the journey of knowing, learning, and teaching alongside our students. …

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