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Not Lost in Translation: The Impact of Community-Based Learning on Beginning Teachers
Unformatted Document Text:  Proposal Creating New Visions for Teacher Education AACTE 58 th Annual Meeting & Exhibits San Diego, California January 29 – February 1, 2006 Session Title : Not Lost in Translation: The Impact of Community-Based Learning on Beginning Teachers Strand Relevance: Strand I. Imagining Future Students, Future Teachers Statement of the issue It has been well-documented that neither schools nor teachers have completely met the needs of all of America’s schoolchildren. Although progress has been made, especially in the area of multicultural education, there is still much room for improvement, specifically in terms of teacher knowledge in teaching to and working with diverse learners and their families. The implementation of No Child Left Behind (2001) was to assure that all children – no matter what their diversity – would be taught to the degree that a year’s academic growth would be gained and that teachers, administrators, and school systems would be held accountable if this did not occur. While NCLB emphasizes the importance of teacher competence in the content area, another critical aspect of teaching is knowledge of the individual learner. This knowledge should be sought not only inside the classroom but also outside the structure of school as well, and more specifically in the communities from which learners’ knowledge was first constructed. With this in mind, this proposal not only suggests a method of teacher preparation that invites teachers to go into and participate in the communities of their learners of color to learn how knowledge is culturally constructed, it also shares findings of the impact of this community-based preservice teacher model on a group of preservice teachers during their first two years of teaching. Literature review The changing demographics of our schools’ populations are calling for a transformation in the ways that we teach our students (Gay, 2001). Those ways must undoubtedly include learning about other cultures. Three major reasons support the need for such an understanding. Both inservice and preservice teachers may hold stereotypic views of certain ethnic groups based on media representations, interpretations of history, and previously held beliefs passed down by family members and significant others. Since many inservice and preservice teachers may not consider themselves as cultural beings, they may not often understand discrimination. Therefore, they may not comprehend discriminatory practices as perceived by culturally different persons. Finally, preservice teachers may engage in avoidance and choose to teach in what they believe to be less challenging settings. Although challenging, evidence suggests that cultural immersion experiences can encourage preservice teachers to question their cultural assumptions. Though field experiences in culturally diverse settings (Grant & Secada, 1990; Colville-Hall, McDonald, Smolen, 1995; Zeichner, 1996; Olmedo, 1997; Burant & Kirby, 2002, Ladson-Billings, 2000, 2001) and multicultural education courses that preservice teachers

Authors: Cooper, Jewell E..
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Proposal
Creating New Visions for Teacher Education
AACTE 58
th
Annual Meeting & Exhibits
San Diego, California
January 29 – February 1, 2006
Session Title
: Not Lost in Translation: The Impact of Community-Based Learning on
Beginning Teachers
Strand Relevance: Strand I. Imagining Future Students, Future Teachers
Statement of the issue
It has been well-documented that neither schools nor teachers have completely met the
needs of all of America’s schoolchildren. Although progress has been made, especially in
the area of multicultural education, there is still much room for improvement, specifically
in terms of teacher knowledge in teaching to and working with diverse learners and their
families. The implementation of No Child Left Behind (2001) was to assure that all
children – no matter what their diversity – would be taught to the degree that a year’s
academic growth would be gained and that teachers, administrators, and school systems
would be held accountable if this did not occur. While NCLB emphasizes the importance
of teacher competence in the content area, another critical aspect of teaching is
knowledge of the individual learner. This knowledge should be sought not only inside the
classroom but also outside the structure of school as well, and more specifically in the
communities from which learners’ knowledge was first constructed. With this in mind,
this proposal not only suggests a method of teacher preparation that invites teachers to go
into and participate in the communities of their learners of color to learn how knowledge
is culturally constructed, it also shares findings of the impact of this community-based
preservice teacher model on a group of preservice teachers during their first two years of
teaching.
Literature review
The changing demographics of our schools’ populations are calling for a transformation
in the ways that we teach our students (Gay, 2001). Those ways must undoubtedly
include learning about other cultures. Three major reasons support the need for such an
understanding. Both inservice and preservice teachers may hold stereotypic views of
certain ethnic groups based on media representations, interpretations of history, and
previously held beliefs passed down by family members and significant others. Since
many inservice and preservice teachers may not consider themselves as cultural beings,
they may not often understand discrimination. Therefore, they may not comprehend
discriminatory practices as perceived by culturally different persons. Finally, preservice
teachers may engage in avoidance and choose to teach in what they believe to be less
challenging settings. Although challenging, evidence suggests that cultural immersion
experiences can encourage preservice teachers to question their cultural assumptions.
Though field experiences in culturally diverse settings (Grant & Secada, 1990; Colville-
Hall, McDonald, Smolen, 1995; Zeichner, 1996; Olmedo, 1997; Burant & Kirby, 2002,
Ladson-Billings, 2000, 2001) and multicultural education courses that preservice teachers


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