Source: Teacher Education Quarterly, Winter 2014
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
In this article, the authors used ecological perspective to prepare preservice teachers to be attentive and responsive to their students. The authors want to prepare teachers to perceive their students as complex beings who navigate in different contexts such as home, school and community.
The participants were 250 preservice teachers, who participated in Teaching and Learning Together (TLT) project at Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges.
This project encourages collaborative approach between school and college. Preservice teachers learned about the lives of secondary students learned in urban and suburban public schools in order to create classroom that support diverse learners.
Data were collected through preservice teachers' reflective writing.
The authors found that TLT project increases preservice teachers’ awareness of the complex lives and experiences of students. The participants also developed pedagogical and relationship-building skills that can be used in their teaching practice.
Furthermore, the participants also developed capacities as well as practices that acknowledge students in their diversity and make teaching and learning more reciprocal and more of a shared responsibility.
The preservice teachers in TLT recognized that there are ways to pay attention and respond to student perspective, identity, and complexity even without the support of the larger program. For example, the preservice teachers can focus in on learning the perspective of one or two students in depth. Or, they might spend time before and after class asking what the students thought.
The authors conclude that the Teaching and Learning Together project at Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges provides structures, scaffolding, and support to build awareness among prospective teachers. Such support allows preservice teachers to acknowledge the complexity of the educational process and prepare themselves to be teachers who will embrace, and structure opportunities for their own students.