Innovations in English Language Arts Teacher Education: Volume 27
Table of contents(16 chapters)
Part I: Toward a Broader Vision of English Teacher Education
The varying traditions, goals, paradigms, and discourses associated with English language arts (ELA) underscore the degree to which there is not one school subject English, but many “Englishes.” In a neoliberal context, where movements like standardization and accountability stake claims about what ELA should be and do in the world, teachers, especially beginning teachers, can struggle to navigate the tensions engendered by these many and contradictory “Englishes.” This chapter attends to this struggle and delineates a process by which English Educators might illustrate the field’s vast and ever-changing terrain and support beginning teachers as they locate themselves in ELA. In delineating this process, we argue that in order to see and navigate the field in a neoliberal era, ELA teachers should treat the field as a discursive construction, constantly re-constructed by the dynamic play of social, political, and economic discourses. We argue that in treating the field as a discursive construction and exploring and locating themselves within the terrain, ELA teachers, rather than feeling powerless in the face of neoliberal forces, can leverage these different discursive forces, and gain footing in their classrooms, schools, and extracurricular communities to navigate the coexistence of many “Englishes” and argue for their pedagogical choices.
Many situations that affect the teaching of English have been unevenly examined in the scholarship. Asking the question, “What research in English teacher education will address the demands of preparing English language arts teachers for 21st century contexts?,” the authors provide recommendations to the field that will make our work more relevant and propose areas for further study based on current situations in English education in the United States that will move the field forward. The chapter suggests topics for further research centered on the English language arts-specific methods (pedagogy) course that includes exploring the tensions between literacy and English studies, integrating technology, moving theory into practice, the effects of high-stakes testing and assessments, and supporting more diverse student populations.
If given the choice, would we, as teacher educators, enter the profession again? Would we embark on a career that is faced with an antagonistic national context that has permeated nearly every aspect of a teacher’s existence – from the media to the teachers’ lounge, from the lack of support from parents to the lack of respect from students, from the misguided policies and accountability demands to the blanket, uncreative curriculum? How can we, as teacher educators who are doubting our own place in the field, reasonably expect to make a difference in the careers of our graduates? This chapter explores how and why the preparation of English Language Arts teachers must focus on three tenets in the present context for education: Advocacy, Humanity, and Hope. By examining different approaches that both authors have used with teacher candidates through multiple vignettes, we will create a deeper understanding of both the realities our new teachers face and the ways in which they can efficaciously face those realities and help reclaim the profession of teaching. Our work will be grounded in a blended framework of critical pedagogy and progressivism and thus examine these vignettes through that collective lens.
Part II: Lenses for Preparing Prospective Teachers to Teach English Language Arts
Section Introduction to Part II
A thematic focus on identity has for years been a mainstay of secondary school literature curricula. Typical curricular units engage students in questions related to what it means to come of age and to develop an integrated sense of individual identity in the face of societal pressures toward conformity. This common thematic focus relies on conventional theories of identity as static, located in the individual, and linked to an autonomous self. Further, this focus positions adolescents as incomplete people, lacking fully formed identities. Current sociocultural theories of identity, however, understand identity as multiple, fluid, performed, and shaped by cultural histories and social contexts. Identity, in this view is always in process. Adolescents are fully formed people with identities that are no more or less complete than those of anyone else. Such a view of identity requires a more complex and nuanced conceptualization of adolescents, their capabilities, and their interactions with texts than does an individual view of identity. In this chapter, we outline a framework for identity focused literature instruction that relies on sociocultural understandings of identity, then draw on illustrations from classroom research to explore three key ways that an identity-focused approach challenges current approaches to pre-service teacher education related to literature instruction. Specifically, we explore challenges to the ways that we teach teachers to select and evaluate literary texts, plan literature instruction, and engage in inquiry and dialogue with students.
Grounded in Critical Youth Studies and English education scholarship that examines the consequences of conceptions of adolescence on English teachers’ thinking about pedagogy, this chapter highlights two ways English teacher educators can facilitate pre-service English teachers’ interrogation of dominant discourses of adolescence/ts so they might be better positioned to create pedagogical practices aligned with more comprehensive understandings of secondary students. The first focuses on teaching a Youth Lens in the context of a Young Adult Literature course, an approach that helps future teachers learn about adolescence as a construct and the linkages between this idea and English pedagogy. The second focuses on integrating youth into English teacher education coursework as guest speakers on a range of English and schooling practices whereby they are “re-positioned” as experts and contributors to English teacher education. Together, these points of intervention provide ways to re-position youth systemically throughout English teacher education programs.
In this chapter, I consider arguments for aligning ELA with the demands of a soon-to-arrive knowledge economy. I ask how these arguments call ELA teachers to prepare students to work in an economy that values creativity, interpretation, and cutting-edge literacies – the stock-in-trade of ELA classes. Although these arguments have many strengths – they play down standardization and play up creativity – they rest on faulty assumptions about the number and distribution of high-skills jobs in the near future. Most people will not perform work that leverages creativity and cutting-edge knowledge. Given this reality, I ask how teachers of ELA teachers can take what’s good in the knowledge economy approach and adapt it so diverse students can acquire literacies that may help them succeed in and, perhaps, transform the economic field. This more viable approach to ELA calls teachers to teach not only economically valuable forms of reading and writing but also ways of critiquing and changing economies in line with democratic principles. I illustrate the latter approach to ELA instruction with a scenario activity for a unit on A Raisin in the Sun.
Writers, their practices, and their tools are mediated by the contexts in which they work. In online spaces and classroom environments, today’s writers have increased access to collaborators, readers, and reviewers. Drawing on our experiences as English teacher educators and as researchers of digital literacies and online affinity spaces, this chapter offers examples from three English teacher education programs in the United States and Australia to demonstrate how we link our research in out-of-school spaces to literacy practices in school contexts for our pre-service teachers. To do so, we share an illustrative example from each program and consider how in-class activities and assessment tasks can encourage pre-service teachers to learn about: the importance of clear goals and real-world audiences for writers; the value of self-sponsored, interest-driven writing in the English curriculum; and the role of authentic conversations between readers and writers as part of the writing, revising, and publishing process. The chapter concludes with recommendations for class activities and assessments that could be used within English education programs.
Part III: Social Justice Oriented English Language Arts Teacher Preparation
Section Introduction to Part III
This chapter argues that equipping teachers for the essential task of serving as social justice advocates in their classroom and school communities must become the central task of English teacher preparation programs. This argument is positioned against the backdrop of a U.S. sociopolitical climate that has seen increased injustice and violence against youth, teachers, and schools in spite of official policies promising otherwise. The authors describe current efforts to achieve a social justice focus in two spaces that are particularly influential for practicing and aspiring English teachers: pre-service teacher preparation coursework and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), our primary professional organization. The chapter examines the trajectory of research and practice that has arisen in response to the 2012 NCTE standard on social justice in English teacher preparation and offers suggestions to the next generation of educational researchers about increasing the visibility and efficacy of this important work.
English teacher candidates have limited opportunities to examine classroom-based discussions about LGBTQ-themed texts and heteronormativity in teacher education courses. This chapter presents one effort to address this issue using a video-based field experience in the English Methods course that demonstrated a critical unit of instruction about the play, Angels in America. The chapter provides a description of the project and English teacher candidates’ perspectives about what they learned for English educators interested in devising similar projects for their courses.
Teacher education in the United States has been widely criticized for its uneven and often poorly supported approach to preparing novices for clinical practice. In 2010, the Blue Ribbon Panel on Clinical Preparation and Partnerships for Improved Student Learning (commissioned by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education) released a report titled “Transforming Teacher Education Through Clinical Practice: A National Strategy to Prepare Effective Teachers.” The report called for teacher education to “be turned upside down,” a dramatic shift from traditional approaches to preparing teachers to “programs that are fully grounded in clinical practice and interwoven with academic content and professional courses” (p. ii). Many preparation programs in the United States are engaged in efforts to become more clinically rich in their approach to teacher preparation. This chapter will examine the call for more clinically rich approaches to English language arts teacher education, and will highlight how such a shift is integral to more socially just teacher preparation programs. Particular features of two clinically rich English language arts teacher preparation programs, one in California the other in New York, will be described and research focusing on the programs will be highlighted in an effort to share lessons learned.
This chapter weaves together the voices of five teachers and teacher educators (two first-year classroom teachers and three teacher education faculty) collaborating to better understand socially just outcomes in the field of English language arts teacher preparation. Building from the premise that it is the seeking of multiple perspectives and the notion of voice that lie at the heart of socially just pedagogy, this collaboration aims to tell one story – a research narrative – through many voices. As White, female educator-researchers who experience privilege along a multitude of dimensions (e.g., socioeconomic status, language, race, ability, sexual orientation), the authors embrace activist-ally identities that seek to understand systemic injustices; act with an empowered and critically self-reflective sense of agency; and mobilize their resources in concert with others. This chapter narrates the authors’ learning of how activist-oriented teaching and research is (and might be) conceptualized and realized in the contexts of their work in one public high school, one K-12 charter school, and one teacher education program. Each author will share the inspirations, successes, and barriers she encountered while purposefully eliciting the perspectives, questions, and voices of multiple stakeholders, including K-12 students, cooperating school personnel, families, and other community members. Through the telling of this story as a collage of many voices, the authors hope to encourage others to act as allies for social justice on the ground – that is, in the teacher education and K-12 classrooms where we learn to teach as we consider how that learning impacts those it most directly affects.
About the Authors
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- Advances in Research on Teaching
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- Emerald Publishing Limited
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