Teaching and Learning Community: An Inquiry into Experiences in a Community-Based Education Course
Beaudry, Christine Elizabeth
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In the United States, preservice teachers often go on to teach students whose backgrounds are different from their own and in communities in which they have limited lived experience (Sleeter, 2000). They often graduate from teacher education programs having never experienced educational settings beyond those they are familiar with from their own experiences as students (Catapano & Huisman, 2010). However, they enter schools with beliefs about students, their families, and their communities (Koerner & Abdul-Tawwab, 2006). As teachers, these beliefs inform their teaching and learning practices in ways that significantly impact the experiences and success of their students (Villegas & Lucas, 2002). Community-based field experiences can provide preservice teachers with opportunities to consider issues related to community, education, and diversity in ways that promote and support strong teaching for diverse learning populations (Sleeter, 2008). This inquiry centers on how three preservice teachers interpreted their community-based field experiences as part of a university education course, focusing on how these interpretations shifted their teacher identity, stories to live by (Connelly & Clandinin, 1999) and shaped their personal practical knowledge (Connelly & Clandinin, 1988) of teaching and learning. It explores how incorporating community-based field experiences into teacher education can contribute to the development of knowledge and practices that are responsive to student diversity. By narratively inquiring (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000), into participants’ lives, and through storying and restorying (Connelly & Clandinin, 1990) their community-based field experiences and then student teaching experiences, I consider the ways in which preservice teachers’ knowledge and identities develop as they transition into teaching. This inquiry addresses critical issues concerning the development of teacher education programs that successfully prepare teachers to work with diverse students. (Sleeter, 2008). It also responds to the call for additional research related to exploring the impact of community-based practices in teacher education on preservice teachers’ teaching and learning knowledge and practices (Cooper, 2007, Sleeter, 2000).