Developing Teacher Educators’ Hybrid Identities by Negotiating Tensions in Linguistically Responsive Pedagogy: A Collaborative Self-Study

November, 2021

Source: Studying Teacher Education, 17:3, 330-349

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The purpose of this self-study was twofold.
First, it documented a year-long project where the authors, one experienced and two emerging teacher educators (TEs), planned and taught a two-week summer writing camp for culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students and used their experiences in the first order setting to create and implement activities in teacher education programs.
In both settings, they sought to integrate principles of culturally and linguistically responsive pedagogy (CLRP; Ladson-Billings, 2014; Lucas and Villegas, 2013).
Second, their self-study examined the tensions they surfaced across first and second order settings through the cooperative inquiry process (Heron & Reason, 2001).
They addressed two research questions:
(a) What tensions did they, as TEs, experience across first and second order settings while implementing CLRP principles in their teaching? and
(b) How did their collaborative reflection and action across first and second order settings shift their perceptions of the tensions they experienced?
Implications of sustained engagement in both K-12 and teacher preparation settings using the dual processes of reflection and action are discussed.
In this study, the authors considered the negotiation of tensions at this intersection of cultural responsiveness and linguistic responsiveness critical to developing TEs’ hybrid identities for supporting teaching and learning with CLD students.


Context and Participants
This study was conducted at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
As TEs, the authors engaged in self-study to explore how they negotiated the tensions they experienced navigating theory, pedagogy, and practice while working with CLD students and pre-service teachers (PSTs).
Although they were in the same teacher education department and were active participants in community-engaged educational efforts supporting CLD students and families, their various teaching experiences and theoretical orientations contributed to more expansive explorations of emerging tensions.
The authors engaged in self-study across two contexts (i.e., first order and second order) in three stages.
In the first phase, they had the opportunity to design and implement lessons with other TEs and teachers in a two-week summer writing camp designed for middle school and high school CLD students in fall 2019.
The camp was part of a larger summer writing camp involving students in Grades 3–12.
Since 2012, the camp has engaged approximately 100 students each year.
To meet the needs of local CLD students who could benefit from attending, the writing camp opened sections designed specifically for CLD students in 2018 in collaboration with the local school district.
Through the collaboration, district teachers had the opportunity to participate in professional development workshops and to serve as instructors in the camp.
In summer 2019, the district supported CLD student recruitment, registration, and transportation.
They were involved in the planning and delivery of writing instructions with approximately 14 high schoolers in the summer camp.
Most of these students were newcomers and attended a local newcomers school.
Students represented 11 nations, six native languages, and a wide range of confidence levels in English communication.
They viewed students’ diverse backgrounds as assets and sought to create a learning space where students’ assets were valued by employing CLRP strategies to support writer-identity development.
Tierney served as one of the three instructors for this section of the writing camp.
Ye assisted with planning and instruction.
Dawn participated in the writing camp and took observation notes.
As TEs, they documented their interactions with students through critical incidents, borrowing from Angelides' (2001) definition of critical incidents as small everyday events that occur in every learning setting but that take on significance because of the meaning assigned to them by the people who experienced them.
In the second phase of self-study, they engaged in collaborative reflection and dialogue to consider how they might utilize what they learned about CLRP in the writing camp in their work to prepare PSTs for working with CLD students.
They sought to design activities that enabled PSTs to vicariously experience the tensions they had documented as critical incidents during the camp and encourage their thinking about tensions in teaching through problem-solving, adaptability, and collaboration.
During early fall 2019, they created narratives of classroom interactions, in the form of vignettes, to engage PSTs in discussions intentionally selected to highlight tensions experienced when designing and implementing curriculum with CLD students.
Their final product was a website featuring four vignettes:
(a) Home Languages;
(b) Home Versus School;
(c) Learner Strategies; and
(d) Small Group Instruction.
Each vignette included corresponding lesson plans, lesson audio recordings, and class artifacts.
They presented a brief description of the lesson context, including specific dialogue from the lesson segment, and listed potential discussion questions.
The third and final phases of their self-study included implementing the vignettes in their teacher education contexts in late fall 2019.
Ye and Dawn used the vignettes in a seminar course designed for four candidates in the TESOL Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program.
The TESOL MAT candidates are PSTs with Bachelors’ degrees from fields other than education.
In addition to coursework, in the TESOL MAT program, candidates participate in 140 hours of internship working with CLD students in local schools.
The seminar course accompanies their internship experience and offers a space for candidates to reflect on their observations in the schools and explore applications of educational theories through lesson planning, delivery, and reflection.

Data Collection
Primary data sources included individual journals and critical friend discussions conducted over the course of one academic year.
Journals were written once a month.
Before each monthly discussion, the authors read others’ journal entries and then revised their own entries based on new thinking.
Monthly discussions via Zoom were organized around three questions:
(1) How did reading others’ journal entries help you rethink your own writing?
(2) What implications for practice do you see in my work/thinking?
(3) What connects our journal entries across diverse teacher education contexts and theoretical frameworks?
In addition to these primary sources, secondary data sources included lesson plans, class artifacts, and their chart of critical incidents from both summer camp and teacher education settings.

Findings and discussion
Engaging in reflection and action through self-study across first and second-order settings established collaborative spaces for surfacing and unpacking tensions.
Rather than documenting individual tensions and comparing them, the authors co-built their understanding of tensions as they engaged in reflection and determined plans of action together.
Placing these shared tensions at the center of their work encouraged them to link their reflection to educational theory and to leverage both to inform their teaching practices.
Reflection on tensions in journals and dialogue supported generative thinking, while taking action encouraged thematic categorization of tensions that considered the roots of their tension and their impact on practice.
The interconnected relationships among these same tensions grounded their work in the complex nature of teaching and teacher education as they built a layered understanding of how their tensions were shaped by crossing boundaries of traditionally distinct teaching contexts.
Through the self-study process, the authors shifted from thinking about their identities as TEs to considering their identity trajectories.
They exist, including as TEs, across multiple spaces, each with boundaries that can be defined by ‘different ways of engaging with one another, different histories, repertoires, ways of communicating, and capabilities’ (Wenger, 2003, p. 84).
In examining their work across first and second order spaces, they addressed a space in which TEs exist that often goes unacknowledged in professional development efforts in higher education.
Crossing these boundaries demands the negotiation and harmonization of unrelated or even conflicting ways of being in a space (Engeström et al., 1995).
(Re)constructing identities across spaces can then be a powerful invitation to interrogate assumptions, and taken-for-granted ways of being in a space and to consider how exploring identity trajectories can shape efforts targeting systemic change (Akkerman & Bakker, 2011; Trent, 2013).
Although change is necessary across educational settings, it is particularly vital in the preparation of teachers working with CLD students as they navigate decision making situations in first order settings where traditional instructional practices often fail to leverage the cultural and linguistic assets that CLD students possess.
Understanding CLRP principles is not enough.
TEs must model the implementation of CLRP in authentic contexts and support PSTs’ development of essential mindsets for negotiating tensions.
To do so, TEs must commit to developing hybrid identities that function across first and second order settings, linking theory, collaborative reflection, and practice through collaborative self-study to confront tensions that can lead to systemic change.

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Updated: Apr. 28, 2022