Small Stories in Online Classroom Discussion as Resources for Preservice Teachers’ Making Sense of Becoming a Bilingual Educator

December, 2016

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education 58 (2016) 1-16
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article examines the ways that students recounted personal and professional stories in classroom discussion in relation to their emerging understanding of what it would mean to become a bilingual educator.

The sample included seven undergraduate preservice bilingual teachers enrolled in a pre-K/elementary teacher preparation program at a large southwestern university. All the participants had heritage ties to Spanish-speaking Latin American countries.

The participants considered themselves bilingual to varying degrees. Two participants were English-dominant, having received English-only instruction throughout their education and having begun formal Spanish instruction in high school to enhance their minimal Spanish.
One international student had recently come to the United States to attend university and was much more fluent in Spanish than English. The remaining four students considered themselves fluent enough in both languages to become bilingual teachers, although they reported higher proficiencies in English than Spanish and in oral than written Spanish.

Data were collected through digital records of nine online discussions served as the primary data source. The authors also used a secondary source, which came from a survey administered after the end of the semester.

The authors found that the storied character of teachers’ knowledge building and identity exploration.

Through narratives-in-interaction shared in online written discussion, the participants related experiences and described imagined teacher roles as they made sense of bilingual teaching.

The findings also demonstrated how narrative-in-interaction functioned as a learning system through which preservice teachers made diverse knowledge sources their own, connecting individual to collective and theoretical to experiential knowledge.
This study showed that experiential stories shared in online classroom discussion helped these preservice teachers explore their diverse identities across their personal, professional, and academic lives.

The authors conclude that this study demonstrates, the process of becoming a teacher relies heavily on individuals’ backgrounds and experiences outside the teacher preparation classroom. They suggest that teacher educators can play a key role within this discursive space by valuing small stories during academic discussions and helping preservice teachers find meaning from their experiences in the sheltered space of the classroom.

Updated: Dec. 25, 2018