Fostering the Disposition to Serve: The Value of First Year Service-Learning Experiences for Pre-Service Teachers

Fostering the Disposition to Serve: The Value of First Year Service-Learning Experiences for Pre-Service Teachers

Reid Richard Riggle (St. Norbert College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4041-0.ch024
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Many teacher candidates enter teacher preparation programs with the desire to serve or to change the lives of others. Teacher education programs are uniquely positions leverage this desire to serve through intentional service-learning field placements. Service-learning, particularly early in the preparation program, can play a critical role in building the disposition to serve. This chapter explores one way teacher preparation programs can cultivate the orientation to serve high-need schools. Candidates enrolled in the Village Project serve in high-need schools, address a real community and educational need, and are provided reflection opportunities to connect the experience to their developing knowledge of learning and motivation. Ultimately, the goal the Village Project as an early service-learning field experience is to help teacher candidates develop a professional identity that increases the personal desire to work in educational communities that have a need.
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Poverty and race are highly correlated in the United States (Lin, & Harris, 2009). According to the Children’s Defense Fund, 14.7 million children live in poverty in the United States and a disproportionate number are children of color (Children’s Defense Fund, 2015). Poverty has a significant impact on children’s learning (Hair, Hanson, Wolfe, & Pollak, 2015). Children who grow up in poverty tend to come to school with cognitive and social-emotional deficits. Consequently, students living in poverty may struggle with traditional measures of academic achievement as measured by state assessment (Sylva, 2014), due to limited experiences. Scholars, like Darling-Hammond (2010), identify this gap as the “opportunity gap.”

Key Terms in this Chapter

Reflection: Inward thought process that engages, pushes, challenges, and empowers teacher candidates to think critically about their experiences in order to create understanding by connecting prior knowledge and course content to current experiences in ways that clarifies critical idea and deepens understanding.

Dispositions: Professional attitudes, values, and beliefs demonstrated through verbal and non-verbal behaviors.

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