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Life Histories of Latino/a Teacher Candidates

by Mary Louise Gomez, Terri L. Rodriguez & Vonzell Agosto - 2008

Background/Context: In this article, we explore the life histories of two Latino/a prospective elementary teachers in a large Midwestern university; examine their knowledge, strengths, and needs as teachers; and consider how teacher educators might capitalize on these. We explore how these prospective teachers’ prior family, home, K–12 schooling, and university experiences have forged their identities and affected how they think about campus peers and classroom colleagues, and their obligations to their students.

Research Questions: In analyzing these life histories, we ask: What knowledge, strengths, and needs do Latino/a teacher candidates bring to campus when enrolling in teacher education, and how do prospective teachers negotiate these? What implications do Latino teacher candidates’ experiences have for teacher educators?

Conclusions and Recommendations: Our findings suggest that teacher educators turn their attention to five dimensions of teacher education: whom we hire as teacher educators, how we model classroom pedagogy for students, how we help all prospective teachers excavate their identities, how prospective teachers’ language skills and cultural backgrounds are taken into account on campus and in school experiences, and how we deploy experiences with various cultural communities for prospective teachers. Whom we hire as teacher educators is significant because the course content, assignments presented to students, and ways that they take into account the concerns of all students are related to the identity and experiences of the teacher educator. Modeling classroom practices that honor prospective teachers’ prior knowledge, experiences, and questions is significant because how they are taught paves the way for what possibilities they see for including all students in their future classrooms. Our analyses also suggest that all teacher candidates require careful reflection on their identities and standpoints, and what these mean for their interactions with and understandings of the viewpoints of peers, colleagues, families, and students. We also encourage teacher education programs to take into account prospective teachers’ language and cultural knowledge when placing students in classrooms and devising assignments for their teaching. Further, we encourage community experiences for all teachers that include interactions with families of different heritage and social class backgrounds so that they might develop more and deeper understandings of various families and communities.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 110 Number 8, 2008, p. 1639-1676
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15157, Date Accessed: 6/13/2021 10:52:57 AM

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About the Author
  • Mary Louise Gomez
    University of Wisconsin–Madison
    E-mail Author
    MARY LOUISE GOMEZ is professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she studies the experiences and development of prospective teachers, and the teaching and learning of literacy. Recent publications include “Talking About Literacy: The Relationship Between a Teacher’s Cultural Model of Teaching and Students’ Learning” in Journal of Early Childhood Literacy (2007), and “Textual Tactics of Identification” in Anthropology and Education Quarterly (2004).
  • Terri L. Rodriguez
    University of Wisconsin–Madison
    TERRI L. RODRIGUEZ is a former secondary school teacher and a doctoral candidate in literacy studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She directs the secondary teacher education program for returning adult learners at Concordia University in Madison, Wisconsin.
  • Vonzell Agosto
    University of Wisconsin–Madison
    VONZELL AGOSTO is a former secondary school teacher and a doctoral candidate in multicultural education and teacher education at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
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