Assumptions of Similitude: Teacher Educators Disrupting Academic Rhetoric in the Development of Teacher Dispositions

Dr. Julie L Pennington,
Dr, Elza Major,
Lynda Wiest,
Dr. Cynthia Brock,
Prof. Tammy Abernathy,
Dr. Elavie Ndura
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Paper 1: The Ethic of Care and the Mentoring Role of Teacher Educators. This self-study examines the role of the language minority teacher educator as a mentor to other language minority future teacher educators, with the objective of illustrating the intersection of the ethic of care (Noddings, 2002) with issues of gender, ethnic identity, and advocacy (Luke & Gore, 1992). Data collected includes self-reflective journals and interviews with one doctoral student over a period of two years. Through personal narrative, I trace my growth as an immigrant woman and a non-native speaker of English in academia, whose life was significantly impacted by the mentoring of female minority faculty while in graduate school. Overtime, the development of my self-identity was shaped by negotiating societal expectations of my perceived linguistic competence, gender roles, and my position in academia. As a teacher educator, I choose to exercise an ethic of care towards teacher candidates and their students as a personal and professional philosophy. In my field (education of bilinguals and language minority students), the ethic of care is particularly important in the mentoring of female doctoral students whose life experiences in the U.S. mirror my own (non-native English speaking women immigrants).

Paper 2: Gender issues in education, particularly K-12 schooling, have received scholarly attention for several decades, thanks to researchers such as Sadker and Sadker (e.g., 1994) and organizations such as the American Association of University Women. Ironically, teacher education—which is responsible for preparing K-12 teachers—has not kept pace with infusing this information into pre-service or in-service teacher education. Sanders (1997) notes, "In gender equity, teacher education is a last frontier that is finally beginning to open up…. Gender equity could become a hot topic in teacher education" (Conclusion section, 1). Povey (2000) discusses the importance of developing appropriate interactions between theory and practice in order to institute an effective gender critical teacher licensure program. She says, "The elimination of conscious intellectual engagement with practice works to leave unchallenged, and thus to preserve, the gender status quo." (p. 223). The study reported here gathered information on nine graduate students in the field of education who took a new course entitled Gender Issues in Education. Data collection involved perspectives of the instructor and the nine class participants across the semester. Instructor data includes notes taken throughout the course, and participant data includes an initial course questionnaire, journal entries, a final class essay, and a survey completed four months after the course had ended. Preliminary data analysis shows that course participants had anticipated a sole focus on the experiences of females in education with associated victim and victimizer judgments. Participants were surprised to learn that both females and males experience different types of bias in schooling, although females do so to a greater degree, and to learn of present inequities that were beyond their current sphere of knowledge. Course information and experiences influenced participants in various ways in both their professional and personal lives after the course had ended.

Paper 3: Preparing Preservice Teachers to Teach in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Classrooms: An Instructor's Role. The purpose of this work is to explore my role in fostering preservice teachers' evolving understandings of quality literacy instruction for elementary children from linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds. The backdrop for the study was an undergraduate literacy methods course focused on literacy instruction for children at the upper-elementary level. This study centered on the practicum component of the course where 23 preservice teachers worked with children at an elementary school. The preservice teachers worked in small teams of three or four per classroom to design, implement, and study the effectiveness of a literacy-related thematic unit that each group taught to a classroom of diverse children. I used a case study design (e.g. Erickson & Shulz, 1992; Lundberg, Levin, & Harrington, 1999) to frame this study. Data sources included field notes from classes and practicum debriefing sessions; reflections written by the preservice teachers; and audio- and videotapes of six one-hour practicum debriefing sessions. I analyzed data sources separately in an effort to discern themes and trends pertaining to the research question under study (Bogdan & Biklen, 1992). I used discourse analysis (e.g., Gee, 1999) to analyze transcripts of recorded talk. Findings indicate that I tended to avoid confrontational and/or controversial issues that arose in discussions of the practicum experience. This work can inform teacher educators about more productive ways to interact with preservice teachers to challenge misconceptions about children from diverse backgrounds.

Paper 4: Cajoling Preservice Teachers into Accepting Students with Disabilities: A Critical Examination Through Self-Study. As a teacher educator working in special education, I often found myself cajoling preservice teachers into accepting students with disabilities into general education classrooms and I fooled myself into believing that I could change their beliefs about disability. I used power, preaching, morality, guilt and data to make my case. Recently my own assumptions about being a teacher educator have been jolted. The purpose of this project is to describe three experiences that initiated a personal self-study of my own teaching and beliefs. This project critically examines these three experiences, which included a job change to a less religious more independent community, a former student who while student teaching was reprimanded for harassing a student with a disability and most importantly, my own experience with a student who refused to embrace special education, but was a true advocate for children with disabilities. I call this the "Carol effect". Through my own self-study I recognized that my students and I were similar in how we approached our students and our advocacy of special education and children with disabilities. I realized that I separated myself from my students, considered myself more knowledgeable, and therefore superior. These critical observations helped me to identify these same attitudes in how my in-service teachers interacted with their own students. This project describes how I used my self-study experiences to create self-study opportunities for 13 in-service teachers and the impact self-study has had on them as learners and teachers.

Paper 5: Struggling for Awareness: Realities of Race and Racism in a University classroom. This study investigated students' attitudes towards a Black female instructor's efforts to develop awareness of race and racism and their impact on educational equity through multicultural education classes at a predominantly white public university in the western United States. The purpose of the study was to help the instructor and other teacher educators gain helpful insights in preparing education professionals who are more sensitive to the needs of ethnically and racially diverse schools and communities. Participants wrote reflections on their learning experiences following discussions of race and racism to provide feedback that could be used to improve instructional practices and completed anonymous end-of-semester course evaluations. Preliminary results revealed the resistance that has been noted by such scholars as Howard (1999), Powell (2000), Sleeter (1994), and Tatum (1994). Other recurrent themes that emerged from the data are blaming the instructor for feelings of guilt, denial, and discoveries of unknown truths. The study concludes with a reflection about my teaching and learning experiences as I engage my students in an intimate exploration of issues of race and racism.

Paper 6: The Mission of Disposition: A White Teacher Educator's Press for Race Consciousness. This study is an analysis of my pre-service and in-service teacher instructional program and line of research in diverse elementary schools. For the purpose of self-study, I adopted a critical autoethnographic stance to investigate my attitudes towards the white teachers I engage in both teaching and research settings (Ellis & Bochner, 2000; Woods, 1996). Data is derived from three studies I conducted between 2000 and 2004 and includes reflective journals, field notes, and interviews. There is an academic view of pre-service and in-service teacher education that thrives in research, curriculum, course design, NCATE expectations, and the overall institution of schooling and society in general. Findings illustrate that I consistently position myself in opposition to my white students and engage in a judgmental positioning when approaching instruction. I have a history of attempting to provoke my students into a critical analysis of their own racial positioning as white women teaching in schools of color. My individual study has revealed that my orientation to my students is related to my perceived personal and academic sense of enlightenment. This study demonstrates my proclivity to consistently push issues of race to the forefront of teacher preparation with the goal of altering students' dispositions about race in order to satisfy my own definition of how white teachers should think about children of color.

Keywords: Teacher Education, Diversity
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy
Presentation Type: Workshop Presentation in English
Paper: Mission of Disposition, The, Ethic of Care, Border Crossing, and the Mentoring Role of Language Minority Teacher Educators

Dr. Julie L Pennington

Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Specialties College of Education , The University of Nevada, Reno

Dr, Elza Major

Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Specialties, The University of Nevada,

Dr Major has a Ph.D. in Literacy Education with emphasis in ESL and bilingual education from Washington State University. A bilingual immigrant from Brazil, she taught English as a second or foreign language to children and adults in various locations and teaching contexts for over twenty years. At UNR, she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in Second Language Acquisition, Bilingual Education, TESOL Methods and Materials, and Language Assessment. In addition to teaching, she serves on various national and local boards: Teacher Education Interest Section Council representative for TESOL (Teachers of English to speakers of other languages); founding member of the local chapter of NAME (National Association for Multicultural Education; board member of Nevada Hispanic Services; and board member of Mariposa Language Academy (dual language elementary school). Her research focuses on teacher education and sociocultural issues in the education of language minority students.

Lynda Wiest

Associate Professor Maths Education, Department of Educational Specialties, The University of Nevada,

Lynda Wiest is an associate professor of education in the Department of Educational Specialties at the University of Nevada, Reno. Her areas of professional interest include mathematics education, educational equity, K-8 teaching and learning, and teacher education. Her research designs include qualitative and mixed methods. Dr Wiest's articles have been published in numerous journals, including Mathematics Education Research Journal, Equity and Excellence in Education, Journal of Teacher Education, Teaching Children Mathematics, Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, The Mathematics Teacher, and FOCUS on Learning Problems in Mathematics. Dr Wiest has also published several book chapters and is currently writing a book for Merrill/Prentice-Hall, 50 Strategies for Teaching Mathematics. Dr Wiest was an elementary and middle school teacher in Pennsylvania for eleven years. She earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum Studies/Mathematics Education at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, in 1996. Since she came to UNR in 1996, positions Dr Wiest has assumed include Project Administrator for the Educational Equity Resource Center (1997-1999), Elementary Education Program Coordinator (2000-2002), and Co-chair of the College of Education Faculty Senate (2003-2005). Selected service to the field of mathematics education includes serving as a member of the Editorial Panel of Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School (2001-2003), Board of Directors of Women and Mathematics Education (2004-2006), and Executive Board of the Northern Nevada and Nevada Mathematics Councils (1997-present). Dr Wiest is founder and Director of the Northern Nevada Girls Math and Technology Program, which began in 1998.

Dr. Cynthia Brock

Associate Professor Literacy Studies, Department of Educational Specialties, The University of Nevada,

Prof. Tammy Abernathy

Associate Professor, Special Education, Department of Educational Specialties, The University of Nevada,

Tammy Abernathy is an Associate Professor in the Special Education Program in the Department of Educational Specialties at the University of Nevada. Her primary teaching interests include teacher education coursework related to teaching adolescents with mild to moderate disabilities and advanced courses in learning disabilities. Her research is currently focused on the ways adolescents with disabilities advocate for themselves in learning environments and the ways adults facilitate this process. She has published several articles and book chapters on citizenship, service learning and disabilities. Dr Abernathy studies the development of quality preservice teachers and works with doctoral students interested in preservice teacher education. Dr Abernathy received her doctorate from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1992 and taught at Weber State University for six years before taking a position at the University of Nevada

Dr. Elavie Ndura

Assistant Professor, Multicultural Education, Department of Educational Specialties, The University of Nevada,

Dr Ndura is an assistant professor of multicultural education. She earned her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction with emphasis in Bilingual and Multicultural Education from Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona. She taught English and French in culturally diverse secondary schools in Africa and the United States for 17 years. She has been teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in bilingual/multicultural education at the college/university level for 14 years. Her research interests are in the areas of diversity and multicultural education, cultural identity development, immigrants' acculturation, and students' academic achievement in culturally diverse educational settings.

Ref: L05P0961