Academic journal article The Professional Educator

Examining the Sustainability of Pre-Service Teachers' Visions of Literacy Instruction in Their Practice

Academic journal article The Professional Educator

Examining the Sustainability of Pre-Service Teachers' Visions of Literacy Instruction in Their Practice

Article excerpt

Abstract

This is a study of teachers' visions. Five participants were followed through their pre-service years in the teacher education program and into their first year of teaching to see if their vision was sustained and whether it appeared in their practice. This paper describes the coding process for visions and discusses changes that occurred in the visions as participants made the transition from pre-service to in-service teachers. The paper discusses dissonance between visions and practice and presents implications for teacher educators.

As a teacher educator, I continually explore how to more successfully prepare high-quality reading teachers who not only know how to teach reading effectively but also possess a vision of their practice and reading instruction. Teacher visioning is a concept in teacher education that has garnered significant attention from teacher education and literacy scholars in recent years (Bransford, Derry, Berliner, Hammerness, & Beckett, 2005; Duffy, 2002; Fairbanks, Duffy, Faircloth, He, Levin, Rohr, & Stein, 2010; Gambrell, Malloy, & Mazzoni, 2011; Hammerness, 2006; Kennedy, 2006; Shulman & Shulman, 2004; Vaughn & Faircloth, 2011). Visions are images of ideal practice that guide teachers' instructional decision-making and provide them with a touchstone for measuring their pedagogical efforts (Hammerness, 2006; Shulman & Shulman, 2004).

Research on visioning that follows pre-service teachers into their in-service years is currently limited to two studies: Rattigan-Rohr (2005) and Hammerness (2006). Rattigan-Rohr studied prospective teachers' initial and final vision statements during their introductory teaching class in their sophomore year prior to declaring education as their major. She found that the majority of prospective teachers did not have visions for teaching when entering the introductory class, and their visions seem to be shaped by the course experiences, particularly by the field experience component of the course. Rattigan-Rohr categorized visions as being moral or intellectual, based on the existing literature. Hammerness followed student teachers into their first few years of teaching and reported the focus of the visions and the influence of the visions' attainability on teaching. She found the distance between vision and teaching context either sustained or led to discouragement with teaching. The attainable vision sustained and inspired teachers, while visions that were seemingly distant from reality or in opposition with mandates led to discouragement and career moves (Hammerness, 2006, 2008).

As teacher educators, however, we have limited data regarding the sustainability of those visions, particularly those developed within teacher education programs. This article reports results from a longitudinal teacher education study that examines the visions of pre-service teachers in their junior and senior years through their first year of teaching.

Problem

This study examines whether pre-service teachers' visions are enacted in the lessons they teach for literacy methods courses and whether their visions are sustained and enacted in literacy instruction during their first year of teaching. This study has implications for determining how teacher education influences teachers' visions (Shulman & Shulman, 2004) and whether visions developed in pre-service education are sustained. Two questions propelled this study:

1. What is the focus of pre-service teachers' visions?

2. How are pre-service teachers' visions evident in their reflections on the teaching of literacy and in their first year of teaching?

Theorizing Teacher Vision

Over the past several years, teacher visioning has garnered significant scholarly attention (Bransford et al., 2005; Fairbanks et al., 2010; Gambrell, Malloy, & Mazzoni, 2011; Hammerness, 2006; 2008; Kennedy, 2006; Shulman & Shulman, 2004; Vaughn & Faircloth, 2011). …

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