Glocal Experiences in Your Own Backyard: Teacher Candidates Developing Understanding of Equity, Diversity, and Social Justice
In this study, we report on the developing intercultural competence of 48 preservice teachers, as they engaged in a glocal field experience with English-language learners (ELLs) at a middle school in Texas, U.S.A. All the preservice teachers were female, White, in their early 20s, and monolingual, native English speakers which is similar to the demographics of public school teachers in the U.S. The middle school is located in a high poverty area with a history of poor academic outcomes for ELLs. Preservice teachers collaborated with content area teachers to create and deliver lessons that targeted critical learning objectives identified by content area teachers. The data consisted of interviews with preservice teachers before and after the field experience, triangulated with the journal entries and lesson plans they wrote during the process. Using a qualitative case study methodology, we explored preservice teachers’ growing understanding of ELLs and their language and academic needs. Preservice teachers’ perceptions of ELLs appeared to transform a result of the field experience. A majority of the preservice teachers initially conceptualized ELLs as having limited English proficiency and limited intellectual capacity. Throughout the experience, they developed a refined understanding of the diversity of students’ language proficiency and that low levels of language proficiency were not indicative of low intelligence. Furthermore, patience was strategized to include specific strategies to support ELLs’ language and content development. As a result of this experience, preservice teachers made progress toward building intercultural competence and understanding the challenges and affordances of working with ELLs.
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