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Connecting Multicultural Educational Theory With Field and Service Experiences in a School of Education: Emergent Competencies and New Literacies
Unformatted Document Text:  Connecting Multicultural Educational Theory with Field and Service Experiences in a School of Education: Emergent Competencies and New Literacies AACTE 2006 Proposal Section I: Content A. Statement of the Issue In Integrating Service Learning and Multicultural Education in Colleges and Universities (2000), Christine Sleeter laments, “Teacher educators see value in classroom field experiences, but far less value in community placements. Yet, it is teachers’ perceptions of the communities children come from that shape a good deal of what happens in the classroom” (p. 274). Responding to this concern and believing that teacher education should be theoretically underpinned by a social reconstructionist (Sleeter & Grant, 1987) multicultural education, this School of Education promotes field placements in a variety of settings—from urban to rural, private to public—and actively connects teacher candidates to community-based service opportunities aimed at civic engagement. This presentation will reveal and examine how professors in the secondary track of the education program choreograph three junior level courses, which combine urban field placements with service learning opportunities in a tutoring program at both a downtown family homeless shelter and at the Urban League. With a firm understanding that “[i]n community settings, teachers and pre-service students see children in culturally relevant contexts” (Sleeter, 2000, p. 269), one professor discusses the field requirement in a local urban high school and the assessment strategies she uses in her fall course, The Secondary Classroom as a Learning Environment; one professor describes the service-learning requirement at the homeless shelter during her fall junior-level course, Mainstreaming, Consultation, and Teaming: Including Students with Special Needs; and one professor builds on these fall experiences as he depicts the simultaneous field requirement in an urban high school and service learning options in his spring methods course, Teaching Secondary Subjects. B. Literature Review Deborah Hamm, David Dowell, and Jean Houck (1998) encapsulate the challenge of preparing teacher candidates to plan for and effectively affirm social difference in their future classrooms: College students . . . often come to the university with a humanistic philosophy, sharing that they are going into teaching because they love children, they want to give back to the community, and they desire to help people learn and do better. The majority of the students entering the teacher program continue to be white females from lower-middle and middle class homes. Often when they speak of the ‘children they love’ they are referring to the students who look like themselves, not like the school populations found in the diverse urban classrooms. Teacher preparation programs face the continuing challenge of preparing teacher candidates who can be effective instructors in contemporary classrooms with poor and culturally and ethnically diverse children (196, our emphasis added). Given this dilemma, Hamm et al discuss their program at California State University-Long Beach, called Service Experiences for ReVitalizing Education (SERVE) and conclude how service learning helps to meet the challenge stated above: SERVE has a ‘theory of change’ suggesting that college students in training to be teachers can gain insight from a service learning experience into the importance of individual and social factors in child development. By gaining insight into the importance of these factors, they will be more likely to attend to learning about individual and social differences (201, our emphasis added). Along these same lines, Freeman Hrabowski, Diane Lee, and John Martello (1999) discuss teacher preparation at the University of Maryland—Baltimore County (UMBC) where graduating teachers are encouraged to be creative in their teaching approaches in order to most adequately respond to the needs and experiences of minority students by connecting these needs and experiences to a “challenging curriculum.” According to Hrabowski et al, five elements embody successful teacher preparation: (1) High expectations for academic achievement, (2) Service and practical training, (3) Academic reflection, (4) Continuous program evaluation, and (5) Emphasis on institutional values and community. These five elements are supported and activated, then, by service learning projects and a belief that, “Teachers cannot model strategies for thinking and learning if they have not been exposed to such habits of mind and had opportunities to go beyond the information derived from institutions and think about the students they will be serving” (297). Similarly, Kevin Swick and Michael Rowls (1999) discuss their program, Service Learning and Teacher Education (SLATE), at the University of South Carolina where, Service learning . . . empowers future teachers to function dynamically in their educational and leadership roles, thus strengthening children, young people and their families in their efforts to achieve educational and life successes. . . .[In this way] learners integrate the entire service learning process into their academic learning, thus creating the potential for a transformational relationship between the learner and the community (461). Besides this compelling view on the use and value of service learning to teacher education programs, Swick and Rowls also offer feedback from students that demonstrates the transformation that many teacher candidates undergo. In summary, the authors find, “Students felt that service learning involvement had increased their sensitivity to students with special needs, made them more understanding of people culturally different than themselves, and more patient and sensitive to the general needs of all students” (466, our emphasis added). Additionally, “80-90% of the undergraduate students in this study reported that their service learning work helped them to develop a sense of caring” (466). From these general examples, one can already see the potential of connecting service to a to a social- reconstructionist multicultural curriculum. Now, to provide more specific teacher education experiences with service learning, we turn to the work of Irma Guadarrama (2000) and Angela Barton (2000). Guadarrama discusses a cross- 1

Authors: Price, Christine G.. and Lingo, Amy.
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Connecting Multicultural Educational Theory with Field and Service Experiences in a School of
Education: Emergent Competencies and New Literacies
AACTE 2006 Proposal
Section I: Content
A. Statement of the Issue
In Integrating Service Learning and Multicultural Education in Colleges and Universities (2000), Christine
Sleeter laments, “Teacher educators see value in classroom field experiences, but far less value in community placements.
Yet, it is teachers’ perceptions of the communities children come from that shape a good deal of what happens in the
classroom” (p. 274). Responding to this concern and believing that teacher education should be theoretically underpinned
by a social reconstructionist (Sleeter & Grant, 1987) multicultural education, this School of Education promotes field
placements in a variety of settings—from urban to rural, private to public—and actively connects teacher candidates to
community-based service opportunities aimed at civic engagement.
This presentation will reveal and examine how professors in the secondary track of the education program
choreograph three junior level courses, which combine urban field placements with service learning opportunities in a
tutoring program at both a downtown family homeless shelter and at the Urban League. With a firm understanding that
“[i]n community settings, teachers and pre-service students see children in culturally relevant contexts” (Sleeter, 2000, p.
269), one professor discusses the field requirement in a local urban high school and the assessment strategies she uses in
her fall course, The Secondary Classroom as a Learning Environment; one professor describes the service-learning
requirement at the homeless shelter during her fall junior-level course, Mainstreaming, Consultation, and Teaming:
Including Students with Special Needs
; and one professor builds on these fall experiences as he depicts the simultaneous
field requirement in an urban high school and service learning options in his spring methods course, Teaching Secondary
Subjects
.
B. Literature Review
Deborah Hamm, David Dowell, and Jean Houck (1998) encapsulate the challenge of preparing teacher candidates
to plan for and effectively affirm social difference in their future classrooms:
College students . . . often come to the university with a humanistic philosophy, sharing that they are going into teaching because
they love children, they want to give back to the community, and they desire to help people learn and do better. The majority of the
students entering the teacher program continue to be white females from lower-middle and middle class homes. Often when they
speak of the ‘children they love’ they are referring to the students who look like themselves, not like the school populations found in
the diverse urban classrooms. Teacher preparation programs face the continuing challenge of preparing teacher candidates who can
be effective instructors in contemporary classrooms with poor and culturally and ethnically diverse children (196, our emphasis
added).
Given this dilemma, Hamm et al discuss their program at California State University-Long Beach, called Service
Experiences for ReVitalizing Education (SERVE) and conclude how service learning helps to meet the challenge stated
above:
SERVE has a ‘theory of change’ suggesting that college students in training to be teachers can gain insight from a service learning
experience into the importance of individual and social factors in child development. By gaining insight into the importance of these
factors, they will be more likely to attend to learning about individual and social differences (201, our emphasis added).
Along these same lines, Freeman Hrabowski, Diane Lee, and John Martello (1999) discuss teacher preparation at
the University of Maryland—Baltimore County (UMBC) where graduating teachers are encouraged to be creative in their
teaching approaches in order to most adequately respond to the needs and experiences of minority students by connecting
these needs and experiences to a “challenging curriculum.” According to Hrabowski et al, five elements embody successful
teacher preparation: (1) High expectations for academic achievement, (2) Service and practical training, (3) Academic
reflection, (4) Continuous program evaluation, and (5) Emphasis on institutional values and community. These five
elements are supported and activated, then, by service learning projects and a belief that, “Teachers cannot model
strategies for thinking and learning if they have not been exposed to such habits of mind and had opportunities to go
beyond the information derived from institutions and think about the students they will be serving” (297).
Similarly, Kevin Swick and Michael Rowls (1999) discuss their program, Service Learning and Teacher Education
(SLATE), at the University of South Carolina where,
Service learning . . . empowers future teachers to function dynamically in their educational and leadership roles, thus strengthening
children, young people and their families in their efforts to achieve educational and life successes. . . .[In this way] learners integrate
the entire service learning process into their academic learning, thus creating the potential for a transformational relationship
between the learner and the community (461).
Besides this compelling view on the use and value of service learning to teacher education programs, Swick and Rowls also
offer feedback from students that demonstrates the transformation that many teacher candidates undergo. In summary,
the authors find, “Students felt that service learning involvement had increased their sensitivity to students with special
needs, made them more understanding of people culturally different than themselves, and more patient and sensitive to
the general needs of all students” (466, our emphasis added). Additionally, “80-90% of the undergraduate students in this
study reported that their service learning work helped them to develop a sense of caring” (466).
From these general examples, one can already see the potential of connecting service to a to a social-
reconstructionist multicultural curriculum. Now, to provide more specific teacher education experiences with service
learning, we turn to the work of Irma Guadarrama (2000) and Angela Barton (2000). Guadarrama discusses a cross-
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