Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

Pre-Service Teacher Pathways to Urban Teaching: A Partnership Model for Nurturing Community-Based Urban Teacher Preparation

Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

Pre-Service Teacher Pathways to Urban Teaching: A Partnership Model for Nurturing Community-Based Urban Teacher Preparation

Article excerpt

Introduction

A teacher's knowledge of how culture is formed and sustained, and his or her attitudes regarding education, are a vital component of effective student learning, particularly in classrooms where the teacher's background and culture are very different from those of the students (Loadman, Freeman, & Brookhart, 1999). Understanding the influence of culture on education has become increasingly important in recent years, and the relevance that cultural mapping has for learning is now recognized (Vygotsky, 1962; Bourdieu & Passeron, 1977; Murrell, 2007). "Cultural mapping is the method by which to uncover the ideologies and meaning systems that play a significant role in shaping cultural practices and how young people [and teachers] position themselves in relation to those practices" (Murrell, 2007, pp. 21, 39). An individual's cultural map is shaped through experience; one relates all new experiences to the previously learned map, thereby interpreting the new in terms of the old and possibly also changing the map. It is through this map that perceivers--including teachers and students--identify cultural behaviors in others that are relevant to their own respective culture.

Teachers--both pre-service and in-service--who are put into radically new and different situations generally attempt to transplant their own cultural map onto the new environment, which can lead to misinterpretation by the teacher of cultural behavior, dissatisfaction and/or alienation on behalf of the teacher and/or students, and a lowered learning threshold for the students (Wolffe, 1996). Gibson (2004) states: "In many pre-service education programs, there is still minimal understanding of race and ethnicity and yet a high incidence of ethnocentric power-struggles between pre-service teachers and their diverse students" (para. 15). She contends "despite the evidence of increased diversity and cultural segregation of many public schools in the United States, mainstream pre-service teachers consistently show lack of needed competencies in teaching students who are different from themselves" (para. 32). Furthermore, without addressing the assumptions and beliefs that individuals have at the outset, classroom field experiences have the potential to actually increase prospective teachers' stereotypes of diverse students, compromising their effectiveness as urban educators and inhibiting future learning (Haberman & Post, 1992; Gomez, 1996).

Collaborative university-and-school-based teacher education programs can address this situation by engaging pre-service teachers in diverse field experiences combined with guided discourse about the beliefs, assumptions, dispositions, and concerns that they bring with them. Programs should "provide substantial field experience during teacher preparation that places prospective teachers in the kinds of hard-to-staff settings in which they will be teaching" (Allen, Palaich, & Anthes, 1999, Key Questions, para. 2). As a result of such course-embedded exposure and preparation within the urban classroom setting, awareness and cultural understanding can increase, and cultural differences can be treated as learning opportunities rather than as deviations from academic or mainstream norms (Gibson, 2004).

But do these suppositions bear out in practice? After reviewing the literature on urban teacher preparation, this article presents findings from the second year of one large university's grant-supported work to infuse teacher education courses with new contents, guided discourse, and diverse field experiences related to urban teacher preparation (UTP). The findings are based on data from attitudinal surveys completed at the beginning and end of each semester by students enrolled in the redesigned courses. Survey results indicated that students' intentions to teach in an urban setting increased during the semester in which they participated in a redesigned UTP course. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.