This case study examines preservice teachers’ K–12 memories, their initial educational beliefs, and the changes in those beliefs over their teacher education program.
The participants were six female undergraduate, elementary preservice teachers. They were enrolled in an integrated, teacher education program at a private university in the western United States.
Data were collected through a questionnaire, interviews, work samples with fieldwork observations.
The findings reveal that the preservice teachers initially believed that students were similar to themselves, that teaching was simple and autonomous, that students perform uniformly within grade levels, and that teaching ensures learning.
At program’s end, the participants believed that students differ from one another and from themselves, that teaching is complex, that classroom freedom has limits, that differentiation is essential, and that teaching does not ensure learning.
The author suggests that these data have implications for teacher education programs.
Teacher educators must encourage preservice teachers to make the invisible visible by critically reflecting on their past educational experiences, frames of reference, assumptions, and beliefs about teaching and learning and then urged to embrace a more defensible pedagogical framework.
Teacher educators should also consider preservice teachers’ entering beliefs as they interact with them and then intentionally select readings, design assignments, pose questions, and consider field placements with teachers who hold differing educational views.
The findings also reveal that preservice teacher preconceptions of teachers are limited to that which is visible in the classroom without thought given to the planning and reflection that happen behind the scenes. Hence, teacher educators must design fieldwork experiences and subsequent reflective writing assignments that help preservice teachers go beyond having experiences to helping them learn from them by providing guiding principles, frameworks, and theories that help them interpret classroom life.