Preparing special education student teachers for critical reflection and culturally and linguistically responsive practice through supervision
MetadataShow full item record
Although university supervisors have a responsibility to prepare apprentice teachers to become culturally responsive special educators, supervisors themselves may not be qualified or have the requisite experience and training to do so (Jacobs, 2006). Additionally, little is known about how to effectively mentor preservice teachers to engage in critically reflective practice and how to foster culturally and linguistically responsive pedagogy (CLRP) to meet the needs of all learners (Athanases et al. 2008; Grant & Zozakiewicz, 1995). Specifically, there is a lack of teacher education research about the specific nature and quality of supervisory conversations that foster critical reflection among special educators who serve exceptional students from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. This study was designed to (a) understand how supervisors engage in supervisory conferences to promote student teachers' critical reflection about CLRP and (b) identify contextual factors that appear to influence the nature and quality of discussions about CLRP in these conversations. Three university supervisors and their five special education student teachers were the participants for this research. Using an interpretivist, qualitative approach, several layers of inductive analysis were applied to multiple data sources: Content analysis was used to examine lesson plans, observation notes, and supervisory conversations for evidence of understanding and application of CLRP. Discourse analysis methods allowed for examination of supervisory conferences: interactional sociolinguistics to understand which participants initiated discussions about CLRP, how these discussions evolved, and tensions around these topics; and pragmatics to understand what types of prompts, statements and questions generated or scaffolded critical thinking in preservice teachers. Instrumental case study methodology was then applied to supervisor-student teacher dyads to identify emergent themes. Findings revealed that discussions about CLRP emerged between each supervisor -- student teacher pair, perhaps due to the presence of a supervisory conference guide. Supervisors used a variety of prompts to engage student teachers in technical, descriptive and dialogic levels; however, critical reflection was not demonstrated in this study. Supervisors seemed underprepared in the skills required to foster a stance of critical reflection in their student teachers. Implications for the preparation of university supervisors and special education teacher education research are presented.