Source: Teaching and Teacher Education 64 (2017) 12-25
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study describes the visions of nine teachers over the course of seven years.
The authors used a longitudinal collective case study design. The participants were nine teachers from two different tracks within one Elementary Education teacher preparation program at a public research university in the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S.
The first track is a traditional university-based teacher preparation program. The students proceed through a series of courses in the first four semesters (fall, spring, summer, fall) and then complete student teaching in the spring in a school that has a partnership with the university through its Professional Development School (PDS) network. The second track included participants, who were Teach for America (TFA) corps members. They completed a five-week summer preparation institute before entering teaching placements in high need urban schools.
The authors followed the participants from the traditional route for seven years; they followed the participants from the alternative route program for six years, entering the study a year after the traditional route participants.
Data were collected through interviews, email questionnaires, and classroom observations.
The results highlight how the teachers articulated clear visions for their students that focused on helping them become motivated, successful, lifelong learners, and these teachers designed their instruction and classroom environments to support their visions. The authors found, however, these teachers encountered far more obstacles to enacting their visions than they did affordances for working toward them.
The findings demonstrated that these teachers’ visions were multidimensional. Their visions contained a variety of possible outcomes for students, both long-term and short-term. Their visions were also stable and there was consistency in what they desired to instill in their students across the seven-year duration of this study.
The results also demonstrated that teachers moved toward enacting their visions by manipulating what was within their control, primarily their instruction and the classroom environment. They faced many obstacles to enacting their visions. These obstacles show the difficulty these teachers experienced in the current educational climate where policy is increasingly restrictive and focused on standardized testing.
The authors conclude that given the opportunity, these teachers developed visions that focused on building a variety of qualities in their students (i.e., successful learners, motivated learners, lifelong learners, and nonacademic skills). The participants reported targeted instructional practices that aligned with their visions as well as negotiated obstacles they faced in their respective contexts. They developed classroom practices that they hoped would support their students in accessing the underlying tenets of their individual visions.