Preparing Pre-service Early Childhood Candidates for Diverse Classrooms: The Open Doors Program

Preparing Pre-service Early Childhood Candidates for Diverse Classrooms: The Open Doors Program

Natalie Young (Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, USA), Gregory James Conderman (Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, USA) and Myoungwhon Jung (Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/IJTEPD.2019070103

Abstract

The demographics of schools in United States (U.S.) are rapidly changing. Therefore, teachers in the U. S. need to be prepared to teach children with a wide variety of diverse backgrounds. This article describes an introductory early clinical experience purposefully designed to provide early childhood pre-service teachers from a large Midwestern university in the U. S. with opportunities to teach children in a high-need and diverse setting. Data from exit slips and surveys associated with the Open Doors program were analyzed over four years. Results indicated that almost 90% of candidates felt the experience was beneficial to their professional growth and would consider working in a diverse school. Slightly over 90% felt the experience increased their knowledge and skills regarding working with diverse students. Implications for similar projects are provided.
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Literature Review

Importance of Field Experiences

Teacher education faculty can help teacher candidates develop skills they need to support diverse students by creating strong partnerships with teachers in effective high-needs schools (Mascarenhas, Parsons, & Burrowbridge, 2016). Clinical experiences are a key component of this partnership and perhaps the most important component of pre-service teacher preparation (Prater & Sileo, 2004). These experiences allow teacher candidates to apply their pedagogical knowledge and skills in real world contexts and develop relationships with learners whose racial and ethnic backgrounds, linguistic skills, social class status, school experiences, and cultural practices are different from their own (Anderson & Stillman, 2013).

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