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Intersections of Vision, Practice, and Context in the Development of Student Teachers as Reading Teachers for Students of Diverse Backgrounds
Turner, Jennifer D
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The well-documented achievement gap and common cultural mismatch between teachers and their students underscore the need for culturally responsive teachers. Students of diverse backgrounds need teachers whose visions of teaching reading result in high-quality educational experiences for all students. As teacher education programs strive for ways to support preservice reading teachers to be more culturally responsive, it is important to understand how a vision of teaching develops and then intersects with actual classroom practice of teaching reading to students of diverse backgrounds. From a sociocultural perspective and using qualitative case study methods, this dissertation explored the visions of five student teachers as they taught reading to students of diverse backgrounds in the context of urban classrooms, including the district-mandated balanced literacy program. Through classroom observations, interviews, and a review of documents, I examined the intersections of vision, practice, and context in the participants' development as reading teachers. Additionally, I developed a checklist of Culturally Responsive Indicators and Strategies to assess the extent to which cultural responsiveness emerged in the five student teachers' vision and practice. The five case studies strengthened research findings that previous attitudes and beliefs, educational experiences, and intercultural experiences (or the lack there of) do influence the development of visions about teaching reading. The individuals experienced complex intersections as they made meaning of their student teaching experience. In the cross-case analysis, three major intersections of vision, practice, and context emerged: classroom management, teaching balanced literacy, and the students' cultures. The conceptual framework developed for this study showed that one of the intersecting elements of vision, practice, or context can be dominant for an individual, with implications of different models for teacher education. The data suggested that a context-dominant student teacher might be most likely to move toward cultural responsiveness. From a checklist of 25 strategies, limited use of culturally responsive strategies was found, suggesting that a diverse context alone does not necessarily lead to cultural responsiveness. Suggestions for strengthening preservice teacher preparation are provided.