Learning to teach, teaching to learn : a longitudinal case study of becoming a literacy teacher

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2014-12

Authors

Russell, Katherine Winton

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Abstract

This longitudinal case study followed a beginning teacher from the first semester of her teacher education program into her fifth year of teaching. Using situated learning theory, this dissertation reports the influences on her journey in becoming a literacy teacher before, during, and after her teacher education program. Data sources included interviews, classroom observations, and documents that were collected over six and a half years and across multiple contexts (e.g., tutoring, student teaching, community-based learning, coursework, two elementary schools). Using constant comparative (Glaser & Strauss, 2009) and longitudinal coding methods (Saldaña, 2009), the analysis suggests that the participant developed the following understandings over time and across contexts: she intends to be a lifelong learner; she values and validates students’ interests, histories, and contributions; she is committed to teaching for social justice; and she believes a safe, trusting, and flexible community is essential to learning. Findings indicated that her ability to enact these understandings in practice, even in difficult school contexts, was made possible by her reflective stance and her commitment to surrounding herself with communities of like-minded people to support her in similar ways as had been the case in her teacher education program. The results of this study provide evidence that over time the understandings developed in a teacher education program have the potential to fully emerge in practice inside teachers’ classrooms. This study has implications for how we prepare teachers, how teacher education programs can continue to support their graduates, the types of school communities that seem to support beginning teachers, and how policy makers might direct future funding towards responsible teacher education.

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