- Year 2022
- NSF Noyce Award # 1660644
- First Name Nazan
- Last Name Bautista
- Discipline Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Engineering, Geosciences, Mathematics, Physics
Tammy Schwartz, Jeffrey Wanko, Ellen Yezierski, Jennifer Blue
Tammy Schwartz, Nazan Bautista, Sara Hayes, Jeffrey Wanko, Ellen Yezierski, Jennifer Blue
Calls for teacher educators to prepare teachers as “agents of change” or “changemakers” have become common in policies and literature around the world, endorsed by a social justice agenda that is concerned with educational inequalities and a desire to raise educational attainment and improve outcomes for all learners (Ballard, 2012; Villegas and Lucas, 2002; Zeichner, 2009). The idea of teachers as changemakers in reducing educational inequalities is linked to research showing teachers are the most significant in-school factor influencing student achievement (Hattie, 2009; OECD, 2005). This can be interpreted to imply that teachers have a role to play as agents of social justice. This view suggests that, among other knowledge and skills, all teachers should be confident in their ability to confront the systems that cause educational inequality and social injustices not only in schools but also in the communities they serve. Preparing teachers who emulate the characteristics of changemaking, such as empathy, leadership, and collaboration, requires an intentional approach to teacher preparation. The Urban Cohort Program (UC) at Miami University was intentionally designed to build teacher candidates’ capacity as changemakers and empower them to reexamine their beliefs and practices throughout their time in the teacher preparation program, fueling constant professional growth.
In this project, we will explore the aspects of the MU-Noyce Program (formal teacher preparation courses plus the UC program experiences) that lead to Noyce scholars’ developing the markers of changemakers. More specifically, the question we aim to answer is, What MU-Noyce program experiences provide sources of change-making?
Preparing teachers as changemakers to promote social justice requires clarity not only about what teachers need to know, do and believe but how they will exercise their agency as teachers when adopting this approach. While there is some agreement in the literature about the knowledge, skills, and values teachers need to be effective with diverse groups of students, little is known about how these are developed, enacted, sustained, and evidenced in the many varied educational environments in which teachers work. Pantić’s (2015) model of teacher agency for social justice provided the foundation for this project. According to Pantić, there are four markers of changemakers: Sense of purpose – teachers’ beliefs about their role as agents and understanding of social justice Competence – teachers’ practices addressing the exclusion and underachievement of some students Autonomy – teachers’ perceptions of environments and context-embedded interactions with others Reflexivity – teachers’ capacity to analyze and evaluate their practices and institutional settings Using these four markers of changemakers, we analyzed the course syllabi, field experiences, as well as community-immersed experiences and retreats that Noyce scholars are engaged in at Miami University.
The preparation of teachers to act as changemakers for social justice requires an expanded competence to include shared responsibility for the development of schools and systems. We argue that teachers’ agency in relation to this involves: 1) a sense of purpose, that is, a commitment to social justice; 2) competence in an inclusive pedagogical approach, including working collaboratively with others; 3) autonomy – understanding and making use of one’s power, and positioning in relation to other relevant stakeholders; and 4) reflexivity, a capacity to systematically evaluate their own practices and institutional settings. This implies a shift from thinking about teaching as implementing policies designed by others to a focus on systematic conditions which shape practices and understanding what other actors can bring to bear on developing more inclusive education systems and practices.
The great majority of teachers of students in poverty are white and middle-class (Hyland, 2005; Picower, 2009). Furthermore, students in high-need settings have fewer qualified and committed teachers than students in socioeconomically privileged settings (Kirchhoff & Lawrenz, 2011). Our efforts to identify the aspects of the MU-Noyce program that provide sources of changemaking contribute not only to our theoretical understanding of teacher learning and intentionally designing teacher preparation programs but to actual resources for teachers in their own understanding of becoming changemakers.