Fostering Pre-Service ESOL Teacher Candidates' Advocacy Through the Funds of Knowledge Approach

Fostering Pre-Service ESOL Teacher Candidates' Advocacy Through the Funds of Knowledge Approach

Copyright: © 2024 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/979-8-3693-0537-9.ch007
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This chapter overviews a pilot research study intended to document pre-service elementary education students' perspectives concerning a course unit on the funds of knowledge approach embedded within a culture and education ESOL course. The course unit consisted of a variety of readings, activities, and assignments designed to familiarize teacher candidates with the theory and practice of the funds of knowledge approach followed by a mixed-methods post-course questionnaire which collected information regarding students' views of the strengths and weaknesses of the course unit along with suggested areas for improving the course unit moving forward. Preliminary results suggest that, while students valued learning about the funds of knowledge approach and appreciated learning about different strategies and techniques they might use with English learners in their future classrooms, they would also like to have participated in more activities and seen more examples of the approach in action in K-5 classrooms.
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Combs and Penfield (2012) define activism as “…intentional, vigorous or energetic action that individuals and groups practise to bring about a desired goal” (p. 461). Bedford et al. (2022) understand the term advocacy as “action steps designed to remove barriers to student success” (p. 209). These definitions imply that both activism and advocacy are centered around a given phenomenon that one or more individuals are interested in modifying and/or transforming in some way in order to improve conditions for others. P-12 students from minority backgrounds are often seen from a deficit perspective (Valenzuela, 1999; Valencia, 2010) in that their abilities, knowledge, interests, skills, viewpoints, etc. do not necessarily align with those possessed by white, mainstream, middle-class students. Consequently, minority students’ background experiences are not always understood, valued, or incorporated into educational curricula, which can often result in missed learning opportunities and ultimately lead to lower grades, test scores, graduation rates, etc. Therefore, it is important for educators to advocate for these students by viewing their linguistic and cultural backgrounds as assets (Bartlett & García, 2011) that can be identified, appreciated, and capitalized upon in P-12 classrooms and beyond. This chapter is intended to provide faculty in educator preparation programs with one possible model for incorporating the funds of knowledge approach in their teacher education curricula while also contributing to the research and knowledge base on pre-service teachers’ views concerning the relevancy of the approach to their instructional preparation.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Activism: Taking action to challenge the status quo in a given situation in order to enact political or social change.

TESOL: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

Culture: A system of common behaviors, beliefs, history, language, traditions, etc. shared across members of a given community.

Asset-Based Perspective: Viewing students’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds as valid and legitimate resources.

Advocacy: Publicly supporting the rights and privileges of a political cause or social group.

Deficit-Based Perspective: A presumption that minoritized students’ linguistic and cultural backgrounds are impediments to their learning.

English Language Learner: A student of any age acquiring English as a second, foreign, or additional language.

Language: A system of signs used to convey and transmit meaning.

Funds of Knowledge: The cultural and linguistic abilities, aptitudes, capabilities, resources, skills, and talents people possess and utilize to function in and make sense of the world.

Educator Preparation: A state-approved program that develops future teachers’ competencies and proficiencies regarding classroom instruction and that ultimately results in teacher certification/licensure

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