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Much has been written about the tremendous demographic difference between the U.S. teacher workforce (predominately White) and the K-12 student population (majority students of color) (Boser, 2014; Cochran-Smith, M. et al., 2015). Over the past four decades, teacher educators have sought and utilized various educational frameworks (multicultural education, critical pedagogy, culturally sustaining pedagogies) to guide preservice teachers in creating asset-based learning environments for their students. Frequently accompanying this is the use of self-reflection as a instructional process for educators to apply theory to practice. This study builds on these tenets while explicitly teaching mindfulness and reflexivity or the critical self-reflective process of recognizing the impact of power and positionality (race, class, gender, sexuality, etc.) as it shapes one’s classroom practices. Although all aspects of the STAR framework were used with a cohort of preservice secondary teachers, this study will focus specifically on reflexivity and how it led to in-depth sociopolitical analyses of one’s positionality with urban youth of color. Findings suggest preservice teachers benefited from a self-analytical protocol for guiding and measuring their ideological development of critical consciousness.
This study draws on the work of Philip’s (2011) “ideology in pieces” which approach allows for a more comprehensive theory for teacher preparation that combines a sociological approach which prioritizes macro sociopolitical analyses of race, racism, and schooling (Milner, 2006; Picower, 2009) with a “teacher-as-learner” framework (Lowenstein, 2009) that emphasizes the competency of the learner with schema to build from. Combining the ideology in pieces approach with the humanizing pedagogy traditions (Bartolome, 1994; Camangian, 2013) and an explicit use of politically relevant teaching (Beauboeuf-LaFontant, 1999) allows preservice teachers to examine, process, and challenge their own ideologies and “commonsense” notions.
This participant, ethnographic research focuses on preservice teachers enrolled in their first course within their teacher education program. The majority of the participants self-identify as European-American, monolingual students. The research focused on in-class and out-of-class activities that sought to build community and ideological self-examinations as a means to better equip preservice teachers with the understandings to work in urban communities and schools. The main research question is: How can mindful reflexivity support preservice teacher ideological and instructional development? Data includes field notes, analytic memos, curriculum plans, and instructional artifacts. Data analysis used a grounded theory approach utilizing codes developed through themes generated from analytic memos recorded throughout the course.
Results from this study showed preservice teachers engaged in individual and group critical self-examinations of ideological beliefs regarding various systems and structures of oppression and how it impacted their thinking, behaviors, language, and activities in their respective secondary classrooms. They connected, challenged, and questioned their own beliefs and the roots of the sociohistorical and sociopolitical ideologies that created them. Participants described specific pedagogical structures and activities during class that supported their growth.
The significance of this research is in its potential to further understand the psychological, experiential, knowledge-building, and self-reflective processes that preservice teachers engage in as they develop their critical consciousness around education.