7. Teacher Candidates’ Dispositions for Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility: Discernment and Action
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117 7 Teacher Candidates’ Dispositions for Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility: Discernment and Action Patricia Calderwood, Stephanie Burrell Storms, Thomas Grund, Nicole Battaglia, and Emma Sheeran Recently, our teacher preparation programs were assessed for reaccreditation by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). During the on-site visit, the accreditation team repeatedly asked faculty to explain how we were assessing the dispositional outcomes we had identified for our teacher candidates. In response, we explained that a small collaborative study conceived as an element of our ongoing accreditation documentation was planned. It would be an element of an upcoming capstone seminar for our second cohort of candidates completing their five-year integrated bachelor-master’s teacher education programs in elementary, English, and social studies education (Pinnegar & Erickson, 2009). We intended to examine this question with candidates as they synthesized their learning and professional development at the transition point between the finale of their degree and certification programs and the next stage of their professional careers as educators. In particular, together we would identify their understanding, competence, and willingness to be reflective practitioners who act as change agents for equity and social justice (Lassonde & Strub, 2009). We would collaboratively examine their understanding, experience , and willingness to contextualize their work as educators within a sociocultural and philosophical framework of education, schooling, and society; reflect critically on their roles as active citizens and advocates with students, families, schools, and communities ; participate in a professional community that facilitates their development 118 | Calderwood et al. toward social and educational agency; and collaborate with educators, students, parents , and community members to support student learning and development. We are not unique among teacher preparation programs in identifying aspirational dispositional learning outcomes for our candidates (Cochran-Smith, Villegas, Abrams, Chavez-Moreno, Mills, & Stern, 2015; Henry, Campbell, Thompson, Patriarca, Luterbach, Lys, & Covington, 2013; Nelson, 2015; Whipp, 2013). Accredited teacher education programs, in addition to developing the professional and pedagogical knowledge and skills of their candidates, are also expected to support the development of dispositions for effective teaching (Nelson, 2015). Currently, teacher preparation programs are expected to turn out teachers who effectively support student learning and who are inclined, or disposed, to do so purposefully, in particular ways and for specific reasons. As we seek to determine how best to credential teachers who embody the dispositions we aspire for them, Nelson (2015) cautions us to parse our understandings of dispositions as immutable, innate characteristics of individuals (and thus, not learned), contextually flexible, learned habits, or, more complexly, some amalgam of both. The distinctions are significant for teacher educators who seek to design progammatic support to foster particular dispositions within their candidates. In the teacher education programs at our university, we have identified the dispositional goal that our teacher candidates will become reflective practitioners and act as change agents for equity and social justice through education, and we build in learning experiences to support candidates’ embrace of this goal. We seek evidence that our candidates demonstrate that they have developed this disposition in four key ways: We hope that they (1) contextualize their work as educators within a sociocultural and philosophical framework of education, schooling, and society; (2) reflect critically on their roles as active citizens and advocates with students, families, schools, and communities; (3) participate in a professional community that facilitates their development toward social and educational agency; and (4) collaborate with educators, students, parents, and community members to support student learning and development. As Nelson (2015) comments, accreditation bodies such as CAEP specify for candidates only a disposition toward fairness and a belief that all students can learn. Nelson notes that “without a sophisticated conceptual framework upon which to build program details, teacher educators risk implementing poorly designed and conceptually incoherent strategies in their efforts to develop specific sets of dispositions in their students” (Damon, 2007, in Nelson, 2015, p. 95). Teacher education programs, then, generally draw on the missions of their institutions as they articulate additional or more thoroughly articulated dispositional learning outcomes, the motivating “why” of teachers’ identities. For example, our institution’s mission reflects its historical and current identity as Jesuit, which includes an “obligation to the wider community of which it is a part, to share with its neighbors its resources and its special expertise for the betterment of the community as a whole . . . sharing common goals and a common commitment to truth and justice, and manifesting in their lives the common concern Teacher Candidates’ Dispositions for Engagement | 119 for others which is the obligation of...


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