Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

Mediated Language Immersion and Teacher Ideologies: Investigating Trauma Pedagogy within a "Physics in Spanish" Course Activity

Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

Mediated Language Immersion and Teacher Ideologies: Investigating Trauma Pedagogy within a "Physics in Spanish" Course Activity

Article excerpt

Introduction

Given the complexion differences between preservice teachers and the children attending 21st century American classrooms, teacher educators are challenged to appropriately prepare future teachers. While we endorse calls to diversify the teaching force, the stark reality is that the preservice teacher population is persistently homogeneous and overwhelmingly White (Sleeter, 2001). Rather than wait for dramatic change in demographics, we are compelled to act within the existing realities. Toward that end, our ambitions include elevating the typically low expectations teacher candidates harbor toward culturally and linguistically diverse children. In particular, within our preservice teacher education courses we emphasize teaching English language learners (ELLs) because of their substantive and increasing presence in U.S. schools (Hollins & Torres-Guzman, 2005). We presume that all preservice teachers will be responsible for educating ELLs across a variety of settings and grade levels (NCELA, 2003; USDOE, 2006). In response to these conditions, as teacher educators we are investigating various interventions to prepare future teachers for the demographic inevitabilities they will face.

Central to efforts to prepare culturally and linguistically responsive teachers has been our struggle to reject deficit notions of difference. As is widely accepted within multicultural education, viewing ELLs as deficient due to ethnic heritage and native language puts them at considerable academic risk (Bennett, 2001; Gay, 2000). In contrast, an assets-based perspective about ELLs which relies upon children's funds of knowledge (Moll, 1991) is crucial for mitigating the ongoing achievement gaps (e.g., NCES, 2010). Curiously, teacher educators' views of preservice teachers are often couched in deficit-perspectives. Lowenstein (2009) documented a prevailing view by university faculty of mainstream preservice teachers as deficit-laden, an inconsistency that scholars such as Milner (2008) highlight. We contend that it is inappropriate to apply deficit thinking to those enrolled in our education courses--despite perceptions that they are privileged and, thus, indifferent. We accept the challenges of preparing teachers who lack experience with and exposure to multicultural and multilingual contexts. Rather than treat those inadequacies as deficits we endeavor to identify resources within our preservice teachers upon which more culturally and linguistically sustaining commitments can be developed.

If ELLs are to receive an education that is appropriately responsive (e.g., pedagogical accommodations, curriculum modifications), then we feel obligated to make these goals explicit to those who enroll in our teacher preparation courses. Further, we ought to approach this work by applying a non-deficit perspective toward preservice teachers. The site in which we locate our effort resides between extremes. At one end of the continuum of possible approaches are culturally neutral and colorblind orientations toward teacher preparation. In such a blissful state, professors treat differences as something to "celebrate" even as they distance themselves from discussions of race, class, and privilege as if those are distasteful topics or remote concerns. At the opposite extreme of a multicultural continuum would be an antagonistic approach wherein a professor intends to shock preservice teachers about their privilege and power. In such situations, the instructor presumably acts upon the premise that racial identity development requires inducing guilt, creating anxiety, and promoting discomfort (Helms, 1990). That the preservice teachers become agitated under such conditions validates, in the professor's mind, that progress is being made. Unfortunately, such harsh treatment is not always accompanied by efforts to assist students with sorting through their internal conflicts. As a result, guilt is provoked within preservice teachers but not subsequently reinterpreted--and this is counter-productive (Marx & Pennington, 2003). …

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