“What Do We Know about Elementary Social Studies?”: Novice Secondary Teacher Educators on Learning to Teach Elementary Social Studies Methods

July, 2013

Source: Studying Teacher Education, Vol. 9, No. 3, 267–283, 2013
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The authors argue that becoming a successful social studies teacher educator requires a way of thinking about and acting upon teacher education beyond the content we teach.
This research examines the critical friendship of two doctoral students charged with teaching a methods course in elementary social studies.

The two doctoral students formed a critical friendship in Fall 2010. This friendship initiated by participation in a teacher educator community of practice that encouraged collaboration.
They created a space to explore the limitations and opportunities in teaching a course outside their educational expertise.

They collected data from multiple sources: (1) eight critical friend meetings, (2) an online collaborative journal, (3) course syllabi and assignments, (4) formal and informal student feedback, and (5) examples of student work.

The authors attempt to address student concerns of content knowledge and concrete answers about how to “do” social studies. However, the students' concerns remained at the end of the semester. The authors exemplified these concerns. For example, a few students maintained that the course did not address their educational needs, while other students felt that they left the class with a greater understanding and appreciation for social studies.
The authors argue that participation in this self-study helped them reinforce the view that they are always in the act of becoming as teacher educators. They consistently challenged each other regarding their individual practices and beliefs as teacher educators, often expressing uncertainties about our instruction and knowledge of elementary social studies education.

The primary result of this critical friendship was the overall pedagogical, affective, and intellectual support the friendship provided. The authors argue that their critical friendship is evidence that novice teacher educators can engage collaboratively in meaningful work to uncover the complexities of teacher education within the confines of academic and professional schedules that often pull doctoral students and new faculty in a number of competing directions.

They argue that the results of this self-study point directly to the support needed for novice teacher educators to become effective teacher educators.
This study also revealed the concerns of the elementary education students, pedagogically and programmatically. As a result of this critical friendship, the authors place a higher value on peer collaboration and community.  

Updated: Oct. 03, 2018