BEYOND BENCHMARKS: ELEMENTARY EDUCATION PRESERVICE TEACHERS’ VISIONS FOR USING DIVERSE FAMILY LITERACY PRACTICES TO GUIDE CLASSROOM READING INSTRUCTION
Turner, Jennifer D
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Many preservice teachers are entering the field of teaching feeling unprepared to to collaborate with families to foster the growth of students (Caspe, Lopez, Chu, & Weiss, 2011); further, they are less prepared to engage families from various cultural, linguistic, socioeconomic, and other diverse backgrounds (Patte, 2011). Given that using vision has been shown to help to prepare preservice teachers for their future classrooms (Duffy, 2002; Turner & Mercado, 2009), this study examined the visions of elementary preservice teachers and how they envisioned the role that families and their diverse literacy practices will play in their future reading instruction. Using qualitative research methods and a sociocultural lens, this dissertation investigated the visions of 34 elementary preservice teachers. Throughout the semester, the preservice teachers participated in two course assignments: a.) they attended a local family literacy event hosted by Ethiopian American parents who wanted their children to maintain their Ethiopian culture, and b.) the preservice teachers chose one family member of one of their students to interview to learn more about their family literacy practices. Seven of the 34 preservice teachers were selected to participate in individual interviews and one focus group to further examine their visions. Through the review of their vision statements, course assignments, interviews, and the focus group, I examined their visions through a “funds of knowledge” (Gonzalez, Moll, & Amanti, 2005) lens. Additionally, I created a Funds of Knowledge Rubric to assess whether their visions were “emerging,” “developing,” or “advancing” toward using diverse family literacy practices to guide their classroom reading instruction and to what extent that they held a “funds of knowledge” perspective. Findings illustrated that the majority of the preservice teachers envisioned families as supporters of the literacy learning that occurs in the classroom by extending the learning at home. Only five of the 34 preservice teachers had visions of using diverse family literacy practices to guide their classroom instruction. Suggestions for supporting preservice teachers’ vision development and strengthening teacher education initiatives around preparing teachers to learn about families and integrating their literacy practices into instruction are discussed.