Reading Rocks: Creating a Space for Preservice Teachers to Become Responsive Teachers

Oct. 01, 2012

Source: Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 33(4), p. 365–381, 2012.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In this article, the authors examine the impact Reading Rocks (RR) had on preservice teachers’ learning.
The Reading Rocks (RR) is a yearlong, school-based tutoring program, intentionally designed to scaffold two different tutoring experiences—both encouraging learner-centered, responsive teaching.

The authors addressed to the following question:
In what ways does participating in a yearlong, supervised tutoring program mediate preservice teachers’ learning about responsive teaching?

This study was conducted with 14 preservice teachers and their reading buddies in RR—a yearlong, school-based tutoring program aimed at supporting the individual literacy needs of elementary students.
Over the course of one school year, the preservice teachers in RR completed four literacy courses, participated in supervised classroom internships, and tutored elementary-aged students in two 9-week tutoring programs.

Data collection
Seven types of data were collected for this project: observations, lesson plans, lesson reflections, online responses, interviews, tutoring reports, and home visit reports.


The preservice teachers were expected to become insightful observers and plan their instruction based on their buddies’ strengths and interests.

During the yearlong program, they discovered the importance of listening to their buddies in order to tap into their interests, hobbies, and lives outside of school.
As they listened and learned about their buddies, they used a variety of activities to empower their buddies to take control of their own literacy learning.
Listening to their buddies also provided opportunities to develop caring relationships.
Being receptive of their buddies’ interests and literacy needs and learning to share power are two important aspects of developing caring relationships.

They reported the importance of collaboration with their tutoring buddies, peers, families, and classroom teachers, and that through the yearlong tutoring experience, the preservice teachers gained confidence as teachers and a sense of efficacy as caring educators.
The preservice teachers engaged in purposeful activities in order to support their buddies’ literacy learning.
In small tutoring groups, the preservice teachers observed each other, shared thoughtful feedback, and collaboratively planned for each tutoring session.

They relied on each other to personalize what they were learning in their methods courses with their buddies’ specific needs and to find resources to support their instruction.
At the same time, they reached out to classroom teachers and families and used these insights to inform their tutoring instruction.
The preservice teachers reported that peer and teacher collaboration was one of the most important mediators for their learning because it allowed them to make sense of what they were learning in their methods courses with the practical applications of tutoring.

This study illustrates the power of intentionally designed collaborative spaces where future teachers can learn with and from each other.
The authors urge school administrators and teacher educators who work with new teachers to design professional development opportunities where teachers can engage with their peers and coconstruct new ways to plan, reflect, and analyze student learning.

The authors argue that one way to support preservice teachers’ understanding of themselves and their students as culturally situated individuals better is to implement explicit, instructional activities designed to reflect on one’s cultural self, explore others who are culturally different, and examine one’s ideological perspectives critically.

Updated: Jun. 25, 2014