Clinical Experiences and Mediational Activities in Urban Teacher Preparation: Learning and Critical Consciousness
In a longitudinal design experiment conducted within an urban teacher preparation program, we employed ethnographic and auto-ethnographic methods to investigate the following research questions: 1) In what ways do clinical experiences (CEs) support prospective teachersΓÇÖ (PTs) development of knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary for urban teaching? 2) How is it determined that adjustments need to be made to the design and facilitation of CEs, and what did these adjustments yield in terms of student learning outcomes? The program centers and leverages CEs in order for PTs to connect theory and practice, particularly an awareness of, and skills associated with, equitable teaching practices. In our two-year field-based program, CEs include community explorations, one-on-one and small group work with children, two student teaching practicums, and various school-community events. We describe the iterative design process undertaken to maximize the benefits yielded from CEs. After working with three cohorts of PTs for their entire professional training, we found that: 1) focusing attention on the intentional design and assessment of the mediational activities coupled with CEs leads to more nuanced understandings and enactments of culturally relevant teaching among PTs; and 2) CEs afford PTs abundant opportunities to shape complex identities as urban teachers. Specifically, we found that clinical experiences and corresponding mediational activities support PTsΓÇÖ understanding of families of color, allow them to recognize and address problematic schooling practices, and strengthen PTsΓÇÖ otherwise fragile critical consciousness. We conclude that strategic interventions can provide clarity for PTs around what has, indeed, been learned at particular intervals in the program, and what is left to be developed in the final practicum and beyond.
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