Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

Examining the Apprenticeship of Observation with Preservice Teachers: The Practice of Blogging to Facilitate Autobiographical Reflection and Critique

Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

Examining the Apprenticeship of Observation with Preservice Teachers: The Practice of Blogging to Facilitate Autobiographical Reflection and Critique

Article excerpt

Introduction and Purpose

One of the goals of successful teacher preparation is to develop professionals who are cognizant of their own backgrounds and who critically reflect on those experiences for future practice (Darling-Hammond, 2006). Overall, this study seeks to explore the ways in which blogging provides a space for reflection, interaction, and development of teacher practice within a teacher education program. Building upon the previous work with in-service teachers of Luehmann (2008), we examined preservice teacher (PST) participation in an online community of practice where teacher candidates, over the course of their elementary education program, reflect on their own educational backgrounds and mediate those ideas with course readings and exposure to a variety of pedagogical practices. Preservice teachers took these various components and spoke in terms of either mixing past experience and present exposure, retaining the qualities of each, or of deconstructing their prior experience as they assembled plans for the future. For this article, we focused on the autobiographical experiences of the PSTs to answer the following research questions:

How does autobiographical reflection through blogging provide a space for students to recognize their apprenticeship of observation?

In what ways do PSTs negotiate these apprenticeships of observation?

Theoretical Framework

This work is primarily situated in the theory of the "apprenticeship of observation," which originated with Dan Lortie's (1975) identification of the period of time which students spend as observers in schools before they begin, if they choose, formal teacher education. Students spend thousands of hours developing perceptions of teaching and teachers and thus harbor deep-seated notions on the nature of academic content, the structure of pedagogy, and what constitutes teaching practice. Wideen, Mayer-Smith, and Moon (1998) conclude "teaching itself is seen by beginning teachers as the simple and rather mechanical transfer of information" (p. 143). The apprenticeship and its ensuing inscriptions are troublesome to teacher educators (Darling-Hammond, 2006) who seek to provide a theoretical knowledge base for PSTs and foster nontraditional perspectives (Feiman-Nemser, 1983). Whereas Lortie's (1975) conception of the notion frames the apprenticeship largely as a negative influence which teacher educators should seek to mediate, other scholars (Mewborn & Tyminski, 2006) have suggested that the autobiographical memories of students should be solicited for exploration and sometimes affirmation.

Teacher educators once took for granted the schooling experiences of their students in teacher education and thus highly emphasized additive coursework, but there has recently been a shift toward theorizing on the need to engage students in autobiographical work that has become tantamount in teacher education (Cochran-Smith, 1995; Vavrus, 2009; Wilson, 1990). The necessity for acknowledgement of the background of teachers ranges from reasons such as having the large population of PSTs, who are white, middle class women (Avery & Walker, 1993; Banks & McGee Banks, 2009; Beynon & Toohey, 1995), realize their own ideological norms and values because their views are limited in scope (Gomez, 1994; Ladson-Billings, 1999; Paine 1989) to having PSTs deconstruct and analyze their images of effective and ineffective pedagogy in order to build upon their pre-existing beliefs (Calderhead & Robson, 1991; Feiman-Nemser & Buchmann, 1983). While these studies focus on having PSTs examine their backgrounds in order to uncover assumed ideological beliefs in reference to issues of diversity and are a critical element in teacher education, examining the apprenticeship of observation has a somewhat different goal in that it asks PSTs to think specifically about their schooling experiences in reference to teachers' practice. …

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


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.