Conciencia con compromiso : maestra perspectives on teaching in bilingual education classrooms

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Prieto, Linda, 1975-

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This dissertation is a qualitative study that focuses on ten pre-service teachers as students in an undergraduate teacher preparation program at a 4-year university in Texas and follows four of them into the classroom as novice teachers. The primary data consists of paired (auto)biographical dialogues, oral (her)story interviews, ethnographic classroom observations, and participant interviews. Cross-cultural insights provided by this work aim to inform multicultural approaches to teacher education and novice teacher induction by providing tools for identifying and integrating the cultural resources of maestras in school contexts. Participants in this study learn to become maestras in the home at an early age by contributing to the household and caring for others in various ways, including as bicultural brokers, translators, surrogate parents, and by tutoring relatives, family friends, and neighbors. The term maestra includes both Latina bilingual education pre-service (student) teachers and Latina novice (first- and second-year) teachers. Analysis indicates that the maestras draw upon their "funds of knowledge" or cultural resources as they formulate their philosophies of education in making decisions about majoring in bilingual education. This study also found that they relate their "pedagogies of the home" or cultural strategies for survival and lived experiences to the academic theories learned at the university and the knowledge gained through their classroom student teaching as they decide whether or not to pursue a career as bilingual education teachers after graduation. I argue that maestras are receptive to becoming critically conscious educators as they articulate their situatedness as gendered, raced, and classed Latinas. However their situatedness is not integrated with their teacher preparation or their novice teacher induction. U.S. public school culture does not understand or facilitate processes for maestras to create transformative practices. Thus the maestras in this study create their own on-the-ground consciousness raising. Implementing opportunities for maestras to uncover, reflect, discuss, and act upon their varied perspectives allows them to formulate culturally sensitive pedagogies for affirming diversity at every level in schools and in the larger society. Retaining highly qualified maestras is critical to increasing Latina/o students' opportunities for academic access and success through the Pre-K--16 educational pipeline.