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“Good Teaching” and “Good Teachers” for Whom?: Critically Troubling Standardized and Corporatized Notions of Quality in Teacher Education

by Mariana Souto-Manning - 2019

Background: Historically and contemporarily, dominant conceptualizations of quality teaching are and have been rooted in notions of the cultural deficiency and inferiority of intersectionally minoritized populations. Such conceptualizations of quality teaching have kept and continue to keep racial, cultural, and linguistic injustices in place. They are imposed on intersectionally minoritized populations—those who, even when numerically the majority, continue to be positioned as inferior to or lesser than the dominant population.

Focus: In this article, through the critical analysis of counter-narratives of early childhood teachers of color, I seek to trouble commonplace discourses of “good teaching” and “good teachers.” I take a close look at how such discourses are instantiated and propagated by the educative Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA), a high-stakes assessment that purports to measure teacher quality and is tied to certification. I focus on early childhood teachers of color because although the percentage of young children of color is increasing, there is a reverse trend in the early childhood teaching force. This may be partly due to mounting certification requirements recently established for early childhood teachers. Thus, early childhood teachers of color are a critical group from whom the field can learn.

Research Design: Seeking to conversationally elicit personal narratives regarding edTPA from early childhood teachers of color, I interviewed 10 early childhood teachers of color who had graduated with master’s degrees leading to early childhood education initial teacher certification since the 2014 implementation of edTPA as a requirement for licensure in New York State. Specifically, I sought to understand how edTPA as a phenomenon came to life in their lived experiences. I engaged critical narrative analysis to analyze their counter-narratives.

Conclusions and Recommendations: By listening closely to women of color seeking teacher licensure and learning from the critical analysis of their counter-narratives, I expose how institutional discourses of teacher quality serve to racialize the teaching profession, keeping White hegemonic discourses in place in the name of quality. Specifically, the counter-narratives of the 10 early childhood teachers of color who participated in this study unveiled how they perceived edTPA as (a) serving as an obstacle to access higher pay; (b) leading to mental health issues and stress; and (c) being antithetical to good teaching. Implications point toward the need for research that helps us move to a definition of good teaching grounded in justice as nonnegotiable if we are to (re)define teacher preparation in transformative and racially inclusive ways.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 121 Number 10, 2019, p. 1-44
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22762, Date Accessed: 6/23/2021 6:57:50 AM

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About the Author
  • Mariana Souto-Manning
    Teachers College, Columbia University
    E-mail Author
    MARIANA SOUTO-MANNING is professor of early childhood education and teacher education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and holds additional academic appointments at the University of Iceland and King’s College London. She is founding codirector of the Center for Innovation in Teacher Education and Development (CITED). From a critical perspective, Professor Souto-Manning’s research examines inequities and injustices in early childhood teaching and teacher education, critically (re)centering methodologies and pedagogies on the lives, values, and experiences of intersectionally minoritized people of color. Souto-Manning regularly collaborates with teachers and engages in community-based research. She has published eight books, including the 2016 winner of the American Educational Studies Association Critics’ Choice Award, Reading, Writing, and Talk: Inclusive Teaching Strategies for Diverse Learners, K-2 (with Jessica Martell). Her ninth book, Pre-K Stories: Playing with Authorship and Integrating Curriculum in Early Childhood (coauthored with Dana Frantz Bentley), will be released in September 2019. She has written a number of peer-reviewed articles in journals such as the Journal of Teacher Education, Research in the Teaching of English, Teaching and Teacher Education, and Teachers College Record. She has received the 2011 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Division K Innovations in Research on Diversity in Teacher Education Award, the 2017 AERA Teaching and Teacher Education Mid-Career Award, and other research awards issued by professional organizations such as AERA, AESA, and NAECTE. To access Professor Souto-Manning’s extended bio, visit https://www.tc.columbia.edu/faculty/ms3983/.
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