Dear Teaching Diablogue Community,
I’m here today not to offer my opinion on a topic, but to ask for yours. As Talia Carroll’s most recent blog rightly points out, the pre-service experience is as much about developing a personal philosophy of teaching and education as it is about learning the ropes of your content, instruction, and classroom management. In fact, our assumptions about the students we teach, the communities we work in, and the systems we’re a part of, have profound implications for our day-to-day practice. The implications range from how we treat individual students to how we reproduce (or disrupt) societal inequities.
With this in mind, I am in the process of designing a research project around the question “To what extent do pre-service teachers’ beliefs about education change over the course of their training?” Through this study, I hope to learn more about pre-service teacher perspectives while offering participants an opportunity to engage in reflection around the development of their professional identities as teachers.
The crux of the research would involve interviewing a group of teachers at the beginning of their pre-service experience – before they’ve started classes, classroom observations, and research projects. I would then circle back with those folks at the end of their first year (of a two year program) and ask them to essentially have a conversation with their bright-eyed self of 9 months earlier. To what extent do they agree with their statements, how have their views changed, is there anything they would add or retract? I would then probe for the why behind these opinions.
So here’s my question for you: what type of prompts and questions should I ask in that initial interview? I’d like to find questions that will get at the deeper, perhaps implicit assumptions about the purposes of schooling and motivations for teaching. Some ideas I’ve come up with so far include:
-What do you think is the most important issue in education right now?
– How do you define academic achievement?
-Who are your future students?
-What does it mean to be a “successful” teacher?
-What do you need to learn in order to become a successful teacher?
I would love to draw on the collective wisdom and experience of Diablogue readers and writers for more ideas. If you work with teachers, what do you think changes the most over the course of their preparation, and what questions would anticipate those shifts? If you’re a teacher, what questions would you have answered differently before and after you attended your teacher education program? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!