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Voices of Student Teachers : Cases From the Field (2ND 03 Edition)by Muriel K. Rand
How do we develop student teachers who are reflective practitioners? Most teacher preparation programs recognize the importance of reflection and of creating experiences that help students reflect on their teaching experiences. This text provides a venue for students to step outside their practice and bridge the gap between the educational theory presented in college courses and the complex realities of today's classrooms. Student teachers occupy a unique position: although they are not yet real teachers, they also are no longer fully students; indeed, they shoulder a full array of responsibilities in the classroom. Caught in the middle of demands from their own students, their cooperating teachers, their college supervisors, and their education professors, these novice teachers often struggle to reconcile a host of particular issues and dilemmas. Student teachers need support to make sense of this busy, complicated, exhausting, but important period in their professional lives. This text, containing real-life teaching cases of student teachers' experiences, provides a way for them to reflect, reconsider, and rethink the events they experience.
New to This Edition
In this revised edition, new cases have been added covering current issues such as using the Internet in teaching, standards-based teaching and assessment, and the effect of traumatic events in students' lives. Discussion questions after each case and a chart on the inside covers that summarizes the issues covered in each case help instructors link the cases to topics covered in class. Many of the cases are set in urban schools and there is extended coverage of middle school and high school cases, but they still are generalized across all grades and settings. The sections of the book have been reorganized, with new sections added on Challenges of Ethical Dilemmas and Challenges of Working with Families. In each section, cases are ordered by grade level so that locating specific age groups is easier. An updated, annotated bibliography provides suggestions for further reading to encourage students to explore issues more deeply and to develop the habit of finding resources to improve their teaching.
The cases lend themselves to many topics and are best used in conjunction with other readings, experiences, and related activities. Since by their nature these cases focus on problems, it is important to provide readers with a balanced perspective on teaching. This book will be useful in seminar courses taken in conjunction with student teaching or in courses with earlier practicum experiences. These cases will also stimulate discussion and raise issues for introductory educational foundations courses and illustrate principles covered in educational psychology and philosophy.
Teaching cases have established themselves as an important pedagogical tool in teacher education. Cases offer the opportunity for students to construct their own understanding, work at their own level, have choice in the curriculum, and, most of all, be active participants in their own learning. Cases are an ideal bridge between theory and practice and support a constructivist view of learning.
The real-life cases in Voices of Student Teachers: Cases from the Field reveal the unique problems and issues that student teachers face. These cases describe actual dilemmas students confronted during their internships and are an ideal mechanism to enable beginning teachers to analyze and reflect on their own practice. The Cases provide a repertoire of experiences from which students can draw to meet new challenges and explore possibilities in their own teaching. Discussing these dilemmas duplicates the process of professional growth described by Donaldv Schon, who explains, "A professional practitioner is a specialist who encounters certain types of situations again and again .... As a practitioner experiences many variations of a small number of types of cases, he is able to 'practice' his practice. He develops a repertoire of expectations, images, and techniques. He learns what to look for and how to respond to what he finds" (1987, p. 60).
Peer Collaboration in Case Analysis
The value of these cases for reflection lies in the potential for sharing different perspectives during peer discussions. By analyzing cases in the college classroom, students will be able to think differently about the problems they encounter during their student teaching and beyond. These cases give prospective teachers an opportunity to think about the many possible ways in which a problem can be addressed. Ideally student teachers will also develop a habit of reflection: regularly thinking about what could be improved or what else would have worked in any given situation. When student teachers work with their peers to analyze and discuss cases, they are better able to function within their zone of proximal development (Vygotsky, 1978) and to collaboratively construct meaning. In working with peers on cases, student teachers can be more resourceful, more thoughtful, and generally more competent than they could be on their own. The group discussions and reflections scaffold the students' growth and move them forward in their professional development.
Organization of This Book
The general framework we used in organizing this book parallels the way in which we use cases in our teaching:
How These Cases Were Developed
The cases in this collection are authentic narratives collected from student teachers studying at an urban university in New Jersey. The majority of these students are from working-class families in which they are the first generation to attend college. About half the authors are nontraditional students: mothers returning to college, older men changing careers, people in their late 20s who spent time in business and now would like to teach, and so on. Many of them are African-American or Latino, and about half speak English as a second language or are bilingual. Many of the students were raised in an urban environment and attended urban public schools or urban Catholic schools.
These cases reflect the realities of classrooms. The advantage of written cases, as opposed to videotaped teaching episodes, is that they provide both the observable actions that happen in the classroom and the thoughts, reactions, and background information of the student teachers as the story unfolds. The students were not simply reporting events but rather were interpreting them through their own eyes and constructing their own meaning of the events. We believe that the cases are open enough for readers to be able to put themselves into the student teachers' places. No resolutions are provided; each case ends with a problem, challenge, or dilemma facing the student teacher. Most narratives are relatively short, with enough details to encourage discussion but without extensive reflection from the writer. This allows learners who are reading the cases to mentally re-create the situation and rethink the possible actions through their own reflection.
We hope that this book provides fertile ground for preparing new teachers and that our readers continue their lifelong professional growth through reflection, questioning, and sharing their own stories.
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