Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

"Seeing the Everyday through New Lenses": Pedagogies and Practices of Literacy Teacher Educators with a Critical Stance

Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

"Seeing the Everyday through New Lenses": Pedagogies and Practices of Literacy Teacher Educators with a Critical Stance

Article excerpt


We need to talk about what the work of literacy teacher educators and
teacher educators is for, and what it resists.... Literacy teaching and
teacher education are fundamentally about equity, access, and justice.
They are about learning and teaching as political acts. (Lytle, 2013,
p. xvii)

Described as "linchpins" (Cochran-Smith, 2003) and a "nexus point" (Kosnik, Rowsell, Williamson, Simon, & Beck, 2013) in educational reforms, literacy teacher educators (LTEs) with a critical stance play a key role in preparing future literacy teachers to effectively teach in diverse classrooms. They have the ability to reimagine literacy teacher education as a site of justice and equity, as Lytle (2013) noted to be the aim of teacher education. LTEs play a central role in student teachers' development because they help them acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for literacy teaching and learning while providing opportunities for them to engage in practices they may not have experienced in their own schooling (Williamson, 2013). As such, LTEs have both the "privilege and responsibility" of creating "learning experiences that support [student teachers'] development of the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to work confidently with culturally and linguistically diverse children and families" (Rogers, 2013, p. 7). Little attention, however, has been paid to how LTEs are accomplishing this.

When teacher educators adopt a critical stance, it involves attitudes and dispositions that aim "to question power, inequality, and the status quo; to understand our own participation in power structures; and to reframe and retheorize our beliefs and understandings" (Scherff, 2012, p. 202). When student teachers are given opportunities to inquire into the power and positioning of texts and society, they are able to make links between power and language while valuing diversity (Rogers, 2014; Rogers & Mosley-Wetzel, 2013). The influence LTEs have on the future work of student teachers calls for research focused on teacher educators' beliefs and practices about teaching and learning in relation to their own critical literacy pedagogical practices. This article aims to explore the practices and pedagogies of six LTEs with a critical stance. The specific questions that guided this aspect of the study are as follows:

1. What are the practices and pedagogies of LTEs with a critical stance?

2. What learning opportunities do LTEs provide their student teachers to encourage the development of dispositions and skills needed to teach in today's classrooms?

Gaining insights into how LTEs actualize a critical stance is a timely topic for fellow teacher educators, as Lytle (2013) has asserted: "Literacy teacher educators are looking for powerful accounts that talk back loudly to the central issues, struggles, and conditions of their work" (p. xix). Through a series of interviews and analyses, clarity is gained around their understandings of critical literacy, an often ambiguously understood concept (Vasquez, 2013). Additionally, by studying in depth their backgrounds, knowledge base, and experiences, we will deepen our understanding of the rationale behind the difficult pedagogical decisions this group routinely makes to enact a critical stance. Finally, the findings from this study will help LTEs and administrators to further understand multiple perspectives of critical literacy in higher education contexts. A greater understanding will encourage the refinement and integration of key critical literacy concepts and practices into induction for teacher educators and, in turn, teacher education courses. Teacher educators' conceptualizations and enactments of pedagogy are influenced by the context in which they teach, specifically, by the barriers they face and supports they receive. During a time of educational reforms that have largely focused on outcomes, measures, and mandating the particulars of teacher education courses (Darling-Hammond, 2012), it is necessary to understand the ways in which LTEs negotiate a critical stance to prepare student teachers to teach in diverse classrooms. …

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