The Miseducation of Hispanic Children: Preparing Preservice Teachers to Support Diverse Learners

The Miseducation of Hispanic Children: Preparing Preservice Teachers to Support Diverse Learners

J. Elizabeth Casey (Texas A&M University-Central Texas, USA) and Selina V. Mireles (Independent Researcher, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7152-1.ch021
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Abstract

Future teachers must be prepared to use instructional strategies to support diverse students, especially English learners (ELs). Whether a student's first language is Spanish, Russian, etc., having access to native language is vital to support learning. Likewise, preparing K-12 teachers to employ appropriate pedagogical methods to support learning is critical. In two separate studies, the first author accumulated field notes and reflections on observations and events that occurred during a research study on the effectiveness of metacognitive strategies in supporting ELs' academic performance. These post-study reflections revealed distinct differences in first language support that may have impacted student learning. In one study, ELs had limited opportunities to access their first language. In a second study, ELs were provided multiple opportunities to access native language. The authors reflect on differing instructional approaches used with ELs, arguing that opportunities to access native language is essential in supporting English acquisition and academic learning/performance.
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“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” ― Frederick Douglass― "Southern Barbarism," 24th Anniversary of Emancipation, Washington, DC, 1886.

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The Body Politic: Conversations

Like many educators, the authors bring their lived experiences into K-16 classrooms. The first author grew up in a white middle-class family, attended private schools for six years, Department of Defense Dependents Schools overseas for another six years, and majored in education as an undergraduate at a tier I research institution. She then started her teaching career in a Title I school with a predominantly Hispanic population. It was in that first classroom, in a world that was quite distinct from her own educational experiences and the clinical teaching at an upper socioeconomic status (SES) school in the suburbs, where she honed her pedagogy and became aware of inequity in education. She did not have a name for it at the time, just the idea of unfairness-where her 5th graders had access to far fewer resources in their homes and classroom than the 4th graders she left behind in her clinical placement. In a reflection of coursework in her undergraduate program, she recalled a requirement to take one multicultural education class. She chose Music of African Americans, but the course did little to prepare her for working with diverse students.

In an examination of upbringing and education, the first author realized that neither had fully prepared her to address inequities in education at 22 years of age. Although times have changed since she completed her undergraduate program, white, middle-class women still make up the primary work force in K-12 schools (Loewus, 2017), where students receive preparation to enter the workforce, enlist in the military, attend community/technical college, or attend a four-year university. This examination of her life, her own white-privilege, has continued to evolve as she became a teacher, a mother, a graduate student, and a faculty member. Eventually, a clearer understanding of white-privilege led to a larger sense of duty and responsibility. The first author believes it is her obligation to support and prepare strong and effective preservice teachers. What does this mean? It means preparing teachers who are ready to provide rigorous instruction, to teach diverse learners, to inspire students to excel, and to motivate diverse students to achieve great things academically. Of course this includes supporting all students, many of whom may be culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD).

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