“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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