Informing Teaching Through Community Engagement: A New Zealand Approach

Informing Teaching Through Community Engagement: A New Zealand Approach

Trish Lewis (University of Canterbury, New Zealand), Letitia Hochstrasser Fickel (University of Canterbury, New Zealand), Glynne Mackey (University of Canterbury, New Zealand) and Des Breeze (University of Canterbury, New Zealand)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7507-8.ch061

Abstract

Preservice teacher education programs prepare teachers for a variety of educational settings that serve a diverse range of children. Research suggests that many graduates lack confidence and the capability to teach those from backgrounds different from their own, including children from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds, those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, and children with additional learning needs. In the bicultural, and increasingly multicultural, New Zealand context, preservice teachers are overwhelmingly from White, middle-class, monolingual backgrounds. This chapter offers a case study of the development of a community engagement course within an initial teacher education degree program. Based on Kolb's model of experiential learning and Moll's notions of funds of knowledge and identity, the course aims to enhance preservice teachers' knowledge of the lives of children they teach, and their dispositions and cultural competence for teaching, through personal and professional interaction with the community.
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Supporting Preservice Teachers Dispositional Development And Cultural Competence Through Community-Based Service Learning

Contrary to popular opinion, teaching is complex and “unnatural” work (Ball & Forzani, 2011, p. 41). Rather than arising naturally from one’s interest in either children, or a subject matter area, teaching is reliant on specialist knowledge and proficiency in a range of disciplines related to learning, development, and subject matter. Moreover, it requires unique aptitudes, such as recognizing and using multiple perspectives, and understanding how to work with both individuals and large groups. In addition, the acquisition of skills and the ability to deconstruct knowledge and reframe it in such a way as to enable the specific learning of others is crucial (Ball & Forzani, 2011; Hashweh, 2005; Shulman, 1986, 1987). Perhaps most importantly, it demands the capacity to cultivate supportive and responsive relationships (Bishop, Ladwig, & Berryman, 2013) that enable a teacher to work with many learners, who have a diversity of life experiences and cultural backgrounds, at the same time as overseeing inclusive, safe, and productive learning environments (Ball & Forzani, 2011). Thus, a key task for teacher education is developing preservice teachers’ capacity to undertake this unnatural work as they learn to navigate the complexity of early childhood centers and classrooms.

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