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Toward Critically Transformative Possibilities: Considering Tensions and Undoing Inequities in the Spatialization of Teacher Education


by Mariana Souto-Manning & Jessica Martell - 2019

Background: Racism remains a deep-rooted and pervasive feature of U.S. society. Racist ideas, defined by Ibram X. Kendi as “any concept that regards one racial group as inferior or superior to another racial group in any way,” are major features of the current landscape of teacher education.

Focus: Rejecting the re-production of racial inequities as an unavoidable outcome of teacher education, in this article, a university-based teacher educator of color and an early childhood teacher/school-based teacher educator of color unveil the complex sociospatial dialectic of teacher education across settings. Positioning mapping as a possible pathway for coauthoring a counternarrative that rejects teacher education’s first spaces characterized by the overvaluation of White ontologies, Eurocentric epistemologies, and ideologies that deem university-based knowledge to be superior to school- and community-based ways of knowing, they identified and mapped inequities across the physical, relational, and pedagogical spatialization of teacher education. They considered the following questions: (a) How do teacher education programs position intersectionally minoritized students of color, their families, and communities? (b) What are the spaces in which power has been—and continues to be—inscribed and reinforced by Whiteness as the norm in teacher education programs and practices? (c) How can teacher educators of color across settings interrupt teacher education’s re-production of inequities in critically and spatially conscious ways?

Research Design: Through a three-year collaborative participatory research project, the authors engaged with critical race spatial analysis to read the landscape of teacher education, naming its sociospatial injustices—writ large and as situated within their immediate contexts and lives—in addressing the first two research questions. Then, they sought to interrupt these mapped realities by re-mediating teacher education, understanding that perhaps it is the tools and artifacts, and/or the learning environments, that must be reorganized in ways to foster deep, meaningful, and transformative learning, thereby addressing the third question.

Practice: Working to transform the inequitable status quo of teacher education, they worked to build a horizontal collaboration marked by intellectual interdependence and shared expertise across physical, relational, and pedagogical geographies, thereby moving to transform teacher education through the re-mediation of its traditional first space and the design of a third space. The kind of horizontal partnership they negotiated was in stark contrast to dominant and prevalent vertically organized teacher education partnerships, which position universities as having more importance, expertise, and legitimacy than schools—in disconnected ways.

Conclusions: This article unveils the ways in which current models of teacher education continue to pathologize intersectionally minoritized populations and re-produce inequities as design features. The collaboration the authors codesigned enabled pedagogical third spaces for transformation to occur and offers an example of what is possible in and through teacher education. In a situated way, it offers insights into how university-based teacher educators and schoolteachers/school-based teacher educators can collaboratively work toward equity and justice in and through teaching and teacher education.



Racism remains a deep-rooted and pervasive feature of U.S. society (Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995). Racist ideas, “any concept that regards one racial group as inferior or superior to another racial group in any way” (Kendi, 2016, p. 5), are major features of the current landscape of teacher education (Ladson-Billings, 2017; Philip et al., 2018; Souto-Manning & Cheruvu, 2016). In this article, we—a university-based teacher educator and a school-based teacher/teacher educator of color1—share highlights from a three-year collaborative research partnership in which we critically read the location of teacher education, identifying pressing and oppressing tensions and issues. As we conceptually mapped these tensions, we engaged with critical race spatial analysis (Morrison, Annamma, & Jackson, 2017) to problematize the construction of a sociospatial landscape of inequity. After explaining how we mapped the field of teacher education from its margins (hooks, 1984), identifying and understanding its inequities, we explore how we sought to interrupt these inequities through the re-mediation (Griffin & Cole, 1984; Gutiérrez, Morales, & Martinez, 2009), the transformation and reorganization of teacher education.


Recognizing that the current spatial dialectics of teacher education have historically sedimented inequities, we aimed to produce new knowledges to transform teacher education. We actively and collaboratively worked to disrupt the physical locations and boundaries delineating teacher education, the pedagogical chasms that characterize it, and the relational roles of those involved in it (e.g., university-based teacher educators, school-based teacher educators). We conclude by reflecting on the power and possibility of interrupting the traditional spatialization of teacher education and its re-production of racist ideas in ways that center the knowledges, voices, and legacies of intersectionally minoritized2 individuals and communities of color.


CRITICALLY READING THE LANDSCAPE OF TEACHER EDUCATION


As we critically read the landscape of teacher education, we identified epistemological and demographic Eurocentrism as perennial and defining features (Ball & Tyson, 2011; Ladson-Billings, 2017; Sleeter, 2001, 2017). They come to light in how teacher education is marked by glaring racial disproportionality; the demographics of teacher education stand in stark contrast to the demographics of students in today’s U.S. schools, where White students have been the numeric minority since 2014 (Cohn & Caumont, 2016). Although this racial disproportionality may appear accidental, we propose that it mirrors an endemic and ingrained architectural feature of U.S. society (Kendi, 2016; Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995).


The critical race theory concept of interest convergence (Bell, 1980) helped us recognize how, historically and contemporarily, “racial integration and equity will occur only insofar as the interests of dominant and minoritized groups converge, specifically, when White citizens perceive that such policies will benefit them” (Cervantes-Soon et al., 2017, p. 408). Interest convergence helped us understand the high price that communities of color paid, and continue to pay, for seemingly beneficial historical moves and decisions, such as Brown v. Board of Education (Ladson-Billings, 2004). Although often touted for its positives (namely, racial integration), Brown was, and continues to be, detrimental to communities of color. For example, when Black children were integrated into White schools (deemed by many to be superior), Black teachers were displaced under the guise that White teachers were better qualified (Hudson & Holmes, 1994; Ladson-Billings, 2004). This displacement had dire consequences, as identified by Hudson and Holmes (1994), who documented how, in 1954, around “182,000 African American teachers were responsible for the education of the nation’s two million African American public school students. . . . A decade later, over 38,000 teachers and administrators had lost their positions” (p. 388). This comprised a demographic and epistemological racial cleansing of sorts in the teaching profession; it furthered White supremacy (Hudson & Holmes, 1994; Milner & Howard, 2004). Specifically, the displacement of Black teachers resulted in the erasure of powerful Afrocentric pedagogies and spaces and further legitimized Eurocentric systems of knowing (Foster, 1990; King, 1993; Siddle Walker, 1996), which pathologize(d) intersectionally minoritized children, families, and communities of color. The ensuing racial disproportionality in schools and schooling is visible in the identities of teacher educators, teachers, and students, as well as in what knowledges and practices are (over)valued and legitimized in schools, schooling, and teacher education programs, influencing the overreferral of students of color to special education and racially disproportionate suspension rates (Artiles, Dorn, & Bal, 2016; Gregory, Skiba, & Noguera, 2010).


Beyond racial demographic disproportionality and the overprivileging of Eurocentric epistemologies in schooling, researchers such as Sleeter (2001) and Ladson-Billings (2017) have denounced the overwhelming presence of Whiteness in teacher education—in terms of knowledges and programmatic structures. Currently, a mostly White teacher workforce is prepared by a mostly White teacher education workforce (Milner, Pearman, & McGee, 2013), which has long employed readings and privileged concepts firmly grounded in Eurocentric epistemologies and White superiority ontologies. This often results in White teachers who assume an exaggerated sense of themselves and their importance and place in the world while simultaneously disempowering, minoritizing, and failing children of color (Ladson-Billings, 2017). As such, teacher education continues to uphold “a system of opportunities and benefits conferred upon people simply because they are White” (Hidalgo, 2017, p. 77), being arguably implicated in the re-production of racial inequities (Souto-Manning, 2019).


In addition to dominant Eurocentric epistemologies and White superiority ontologies characterized by the pervasiveness of racist ideas in teacher education, the landscape of teacher education is punctuated by sharp hierarchical contrasts across physical and relational geographies. One such contrast is “the disconnect between the campus and school-based components of [teacher education] programs,” identified by Zeichner (2010) as “one of the central problems that has plagued college- and university-based preservice teacher education for many years” (p. 89). Although there have been attempts to connect these components of teacher education programs across time and space (e.g., Lacey & Lamont, 1976), when fostered, university-school partnerships have typically been organized hierarchically and vertically (Ellis & McNicholl, 2015). This is also perpetuated by the myth that developing teachers acquire knowledge in universities and then apply that knowledge in schools, which are positioned as sites of application.


This contrast is closely tied to the roles that school-based educators are expected to play in teacher education; although teachers often act as de facto school-based teacher educators, they are rarely recognized or compensated for this work and are often not prepared or supported to serve in that role (Beck & Kosnik, 2000; Darling-Hammond, 2010; Milner, 2003). This lack of recognition reifies hierarchies in which universities (and those who work in universities) produce knowledge, while schools (and those who work in schools) apply the knowledge generated at universities. Inherent to this hierarchy are a number of perennial issues, including university-based teacher educators’ lack of familiarity with the specific communities schools serve, teachers being positioned as technicians who receive and/or consume knowledge produced in universities, and the often bifurcated experience of those becoming teachers; what is taught in universities and what is done in schools are often uncoordinated (Darling-Hammond, 2010). This hierarchy is kept in place by a number of components of teacher education, including the fractured physical and relational spatialization of teacher education and the discoordination of pedagogies across these settings. After all, describing the locations where teacher education occurs and their characteristics will not result in transformation; “[t]he way physical spaces are organized arises from human interaction” (Schmidt, 2011, p. 250). Thus, merely shifting physical locations will not necessarily change the spatialization of teacher education.


Responding to these challenges with a commitment to transformation that centers the knowledges, values, and experiences of individuals and communities who have historically been minoritized in and by teacher education, through critical race spatial analysis, we worked to map, understand, and “disrupt cartographies of inequity” (Annamma, 2017, p. 35) in teacher education. We then engaged in re-mediation (Griffin & Cole, 1984; Gutiérrez et al., 2009) to consider tensions and undo inequities in the spatialization of teacher education, with the aim of fostering deeper and more meaningful learning opportunities for students across settings (in teaching and teacher education). Combining sociocultural, critical race, and spatial theories offers unique affordances for such reorganization, attending specifically to and purposefully seeking to interrupt the pervasiveness of racism (Nasir & Hand, 2006).


We regard mapping (broadly defined to include rhetorical mapping and surveys of academic fields) as a possible pathway for coauthoring a counternarrative that rejects teacher education’s first spaces3 (Soja, 1996), characterized by the overvaluation of White ontologies, Eurocentric epistemologies, and ideologies that deem university-based knowledge superior. Through critical race spatial analysis, we read the landscape of teacher education, naming its sociospatial injustices—writ large and as situated within our immediate contexts and lives. We sought to re-mediate teacher education, understanding that perhaps it is the tools and artifacts, and/or the learning environments, that must be reorganized in ways to foster deep, meaningful, and transformative learning (Griffin & Cole, 1984) for intersectionally minoritized students. Through re-mediation, we aimed to interrupt the traditional physical, relational, and pedagogical geographies of teacher education we documented via critical race spatial analysis, working to revision and reorganize these first spaces (firmly grounded in Eurocentric epistemologies that privilege the notions of objectivism and materiality) and moving toward third spaces, “an-Other way of understanding and acting to change the spatiality of human life” (Soja, 1996, p. 10). As Gutiérrez (2008) proposed, third space is a “transformative space where the potential for an expanded form of learning and the development of new knowledge are heightened” (p. 152). Third spaces necessitate “a reorganization—a movement” (p. 152), with re-mediation leading to a reconceptualization of the nature of knowledge, individual and collective development, and available forms of mediation.


In contrast to traditional “remedial” approaches, which focus on fixing perceived problems of intersectionally minoritized individuals and communities, the concept of re-mediation focuses “on the sociohistorical influences on students’ learning and the context of their development. . . . [It] involves a more robust notion of learning and thus disrupts the ideology of pathology linked with most approaches to remediation” (Gutiérrez et al., 2009, p. 227). Seeking to collectively transform teacher education through interactionally constructed third spaces, which “privilege and are contingent upon students’ sociohistorical lives” (Gutiérrez, 2008, p. 148), requires mapping realities and then interrupting status quo inequities by fostering “the development of networks of support and tools for individuals and institutions to learn” (Gutiérrez & Vossoughi, 2010, p. 111).


Re-mediating teacher education “necessarily and fundamentally includes transformation of the researcher; her or his methods, tools, and dispositions; as well as the relations with participants in the focal activity and community” (Gutiérrez & Vossoughi, 2010, p. 102). We aspired to re-mediate teacher education, prioritizing the transformation of our own roles, activities, and communities. In doing so, we intentionally aimed to interrupt inequity and foster justice in and through teacher education through the creation of “spaces to experiment pedagogically . . . heighten[ing] the potential for deep learning to occur” (Gutiérrez & Vossoughi, 2010, p. 102) and for transformation to take root.


As we identified and mapped inequities across the physical, relational, and pedagogical spaces where teacher education occurs, we considered the following questions: (a) How do teacher education programs position intersectionally minoritized students of color, their families, and communities? (b) What are the spaces in which power has been—and continues to be—inscribed and reinforced by Whiteness as the norm in teacher education programs and practices? (c) How can we—teacher educators of color across settings—interrupt teacher education’s re-production of inequities in critically and spatially conscious ways? Through a collaborative participatory research project, we engaged with critical race spatial analysis to address the two first questions; then we sought to interrupt the realities documented by previous questions by re-mediating teacher education, thereby addressing the third question.


CRITICAL RACE SPATIAL ANALYSIS: MAPPING AS A SITE FOR READING AND PROBLEMATIZING


Critical race spatial analysis helps us explain how we critically mapped teacher education in a way “that accounts for the role of race, racism, and white supremacy in examining geographical and social spaces and that works toward identifying and challenging racism and white supremacy within these spaces” (Vélez & Solorzano, 2017, p. 20). Specifically going beyond describing spaces, critical race spatial analysis affords us a close and critical examination of “how structural and institutional factors influence and shape racial dynamics and power associated with those dynamics over time” (p. 20). Using the tools of critical geography, we sought to “disrupt those established attributes of place and the configuring boundaries that have literally allowed whiteness” (Kobayashi & Peake, 2000, p. 400) to be a determining architectural or design feature in teacher education.


We met weekly for three hours in Jessica’s classroom immediately after we concluded our day coteaching second graders4 and engaged in ongoing critical dialogue and dialectical thinking, discussing our readings of scholarly sources, the Internet, and news outlets, which unveiled how ingrained and pervasive racism is in schools and schooling. Specifically, we read articles, chapters, and books authored by scholars of color who troubled myths that perpetuate racism in and through schooling. For example, we read Ladson-Billings (1995), who called for a reconsideration of “what we mean by ‘good’ teaching” (p. 163) to centrally include cultural competence and critical consciousness, and Delpit (2012), who carefully documented how “there is no ‘achievement gap’ at birth—at least not one that favors European American children” (p. 5). We critically analyzed media portrayals of racist actions and interactions in schools (e.g., video of a Black student slammed to the ground by a White resource officer at Spring Valley High School in South Carolina; Ford, Botelho, & Conlon, 2015). We shared news articles about the Black Lives Matter movement’s demands for freedom and justice for all Black lives (https://blacklivesmatter.com/) and about the attack on Black bodies—e.g., the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri (Goyette, Wing, & Cadet, 2014; Swaine, 2014), and the nonindictment of a New York City police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York (Chandler, 2014).


Our meetings were audio-recorded and transcribed to document our work together. Initially, we sought to identify and understand hierarchies that kept White superiority and Eurocentric epistemologies in place in the education of teachers by mapping major features of the landscape of teaching and teacher education (briefly described earlier in this article). In doing so, we rhetorically mapped the historical construction of relational, physical, and pedagogical spaces and boundaries—e.g., White and Black schools in the segregated South; Black and White teachers pre- and post-Brown; universities and schools within the context of teacher education; and the discoordination of pedagogies of teaching and teacher education. After verifying the centrality of Whiteness in teacher education writ large (by engaging in a critical review of literature), and in the program with which we were associated in particular (by analyzing its syllabi, readings, and assignments), we worked to author a countercartographic pedagogical narrative (Knigge & Cope, 2006; Vélez & Solorzano, 2017), centrally (re)positioning the knowledges, values, voices, and images of children and youth of color and of their families and communities in our redesign, key tasks, and in-between crevices of teacher education.


In dialogically coauthoring our countercartographic pedagogical narrative, we critically reread and mapped the multiple locations we occupied. We aimed to understand how teacher education’s first spaces shape social relations, produce inequality, and uphold White superiority. The following transcription illustrates some of this process:


Jessica:  The readings, the classes the student teachers take, do they always construct children like the ones I teach for what they cannot do? Do they ever see what they can do? I am frustrated.

Mariana: I know that education has privileged Whiteness. Teacher education is no exception.

Jessica:  But it’s like all the knowledge there is, is at the university. And it is given, passed down to schools. Like teachers have no voice, no say. And student teachers and their supervisors, you know, many have not been in the classroom for years, if ever, are seen as knowing more than teachers.

Mariana: Just because it is the way it’s been [done] doesn’t mean it is fair or just. We should look at how universities take this up. And how we are doing that, so that we can interrupt it. . . . We have the opportunity to work together to change things.


Problematizing the traditional spatialization of teacher education happening in universities and in schools in widely discoordinated ways (Darling-Hammond, 2010), we sought to understand how to transform the work we did collaboratively and dialogically. As multilingual Latina women of color who grew up in the margins (hooks, 1984), navigating overlapping systems of oppression, we engaged our “intersectional sensibility” (Crenshaw, 1991, p. 1475) as we critically problematized the ontology and epistemologies undergirding first spaces in teacher education. That is, while our analysis prioritized race and racism, it also considered the intersection of racism and racist ideas with other forms of oppression (Kendi, 2016), seeking to challenge and change first spaces into third spaces, a “constantly and shifting milieu of ideas, events, appearances, and meanings” (Soja, 1996, p. 2) that “attends to both vertical and horizontal forms of learning” (Gutiérrez, 2008, p. 149).


As Gutiérrez (2008) explained, “traditional notions of development generally define change along a vertical dimension, moving, for example, from immaturity and incompetence to maturity and competence. . . . A more expansive view of development also is concerned with the horizontal forms of expertise that develop within and across an individual’s practices” (p. 149). Third spaces are composed of scripts and counterscripts and thereby not only can capture the current landscape of teacher education but also can afford the exploration of transformative possibilities as they bring together the formal and the informal, accounting for official and unofficial spaces, thus “creating the potential for authentic interaction and a shift in the social organization of learning and what counts as knowledge” (Gutiérrez, 2008, p. 152). As we (re)considered development expansively and explored transformative possibilities, we drew connections and implications to the teacher education program with which we were both affiliated—Jessica as a collaborating teacher who hosted student teachers in her classroom, and Mariana as a university faculty member.


We centered our countercartographic pedagogical narrative on the lives, experiences, voices, values, and images of intersectionally minoritized children, families, and communities of color, too often positioned peripherally in teacher education. This allowed us to start developing a better “understanding of the relationship between the social and the spatial and how power can intervene at this intersection to mediate” (Vélez & Solorzano, 2017, p. 9) our lived experiences as teacher educators across physical spaces, thereby making sense of our practices and how they were organized. Hence, instead of having evidence presented to us, we coconstructed our own evidence, better understanding the social, cultural, and historical location of our practices, seeking to account for “the trialectics of historicity-sociality-spatiality” (Soja, 1996, p. 16) and “consider[ing] the most interesting new ways of thinking about space and social spatiality” (p. 2).


With the awareness that educational “inequities are often both a social and spatial phenomenon,” we engaged with the notion of a “sociospatial dialectical, wherein geography impacts social relations while, simultaneously, social processes shape spatiality” (Annamma, 2017, p. 35). This allowed us to understand, for example, how programs, which had sought to establish partnerships with the aim of transforming the physical location of teacher education (Lacey & Lamont, 1976), did not attend to the multiple and intersecting social (relational and pedagogical) spaces where teacher education occurs. While recognizing how social processes and location inform each other and shape inequality, we engaged in mapping the current sociospatial dialectic of teaching and teacher education and of teacher education across spaces (university and school), embracing Vélez and Solorzano’s (2017) invitation to create alternative maps as ways of breaking down traditional geographies of injustice (Soja, 2010).


INTERRUPTING CARTOGRAPHIES OF INJUSTICE IN TEACHER EDUCATION


Seeking to produce new visions for teacher education that center justice, we worked together for three academic years, collaboratively creating alternative cartographies. We were both positioned as researchers and participants with significant investment in transforming teacher education—both personally, given our teacher education journeys, and professionally, given the production of inequities we witnessed day in and day out as women teacher educators of color. As we mapped teacher education, we unveiled how its design, which developed historically, served to uphold inequities in teacher education contemporarily.


Our work intended to interrupt the typically bifurcated cartography of relational spaces punctuated by schoolteachers and university-based teacher educators being positioned hierarchically. Within our immediate context, we re-mediated our relationship, deliberately fashioning a horizontal partnership marked by the absence of calcified experts (Ellis & McNicholl, 2015) and shifting power dynamics. In doing so, we aimed to challenge dominant conceptualizations of the legitimacy of knowledge and the Eurocentricity of systems of knowing (Ladson-Billings, 2000b). Because we do not want to give the impression that horizontally re-mediating collaborations is fast or easy, next we share how we mapped and then developed a countercartography of our relational space(s). This was marked by design choices in our collaboration, such as Mariana being addressed as “Ms. Mariana” by second graders, and not by her academic title and last name, as she is addressed in the university context.


MAPPING AND REMAPPING OUR RELATIONAL SPACE(S)


Mariana went to Jessica’s second-grade classroom in a New York City public school weekly, spending Fridays (8 a.m. to 6 p.m.) in her classroom. We coplanned and cotaught one day per week in Jessica’s classroom, aiming to develop culturally relevant literacy practices, which successfully (re)positioned students of color. After reading the classroom critically and mapping sites of inequity, we collaboratively worked to foster justice in and through teaching. Weekly, we not only coplanned and cotaught second graders but also met to continuously map inequities and design possible futures that offered transformative possibilities. Although we belonged to different professional communities, we both engaged in doing the work of teacher education—Mariana teaching university classes and Jessica hosting and mentoring student teachers. We deliberately developed a relational space between our official roles marked by intellectual interdependence, a process whereby ideas are created and transformed dialogically over time (Ellis & McNicholl, 2015).


Our collaboration came about somewhat by chance, as a result of Mariana’s commitment to engage the teacher education program in which she was a faculty member in paying back the debt teacher education owes communities of color (Ellis et al., 2019; Ladson-Billings, 2006)—accumulated historically—via the transformation of its practices, centering the knowledges, values, and experiences of people of color from an assets-based perspective. Realizing that “good” student teaching placements had been historically racialized to privilege Whiteness—that is, student teaching placements deemed to be good were mostly those in (pre)schools serving White children and families (Souto-Manning, 2019)—Mariana sought to transform the landscape of teacher education clinical placements by developing a model for collaborations that aimed to foster quality student teaching placements in schools predominantly serving racially, linguistically, and socioeconomically minoritized students. She had hoped that engaging preservice teachers with pedagogies that centered the lives of students, families, and communities of color would better prepare them to identify, leverage, and build on the power and promise of children of color, thereby committing to justice-focused teaching. She has written about this elsewhere (Souto-Manning, 2019). In addition to helping develop placements where student teachers would see children of color as being “at promise,” instead of being “at risk” (Swadener, 2010), she wanted to find placements where preservice teachers of color could see themselves. That is, given the racial demographics of teachers in the United States (more than 3/4 being White) and the racial disproportionality we identified earlier, she wanted to help develop placements for the program’s students to be mentored by teachers of color.


Seeking to move away from teacher education work between universities and schools as parasitic and ethnocentric (Souto-Manning, 2017), specifically as it pertains to the selection of clinical placements, Mariana identified a school serving a large number of children from intersectionally minoritized backgrounds, located in close physical proximity to the university where she worked. Approaching one of the school’s administrators, Mariana asked for permission to collaborate with a teacher and to conduct research, stating that in exchange, she would be in the school for a full day once a week. After securing permission, Mariana asked for a recommendation of an early childhood teacher of color with whom she could work to build a partnership focused on improving teaching and learning in culturally relevant ways (given Mariana’s identity and research focus). The administrator immediately recommended Jessica, not because of her powerful practice or robust connections with families, but because she had recently learned that her sabbatical request had been denied.


Mariana approached Jessica, who reluctantly committed to the collaboration. Jessica’s reluctance was marked by curtly asking, “What do I have to do?” and then telling Mariana to come on Fridays so that it wouldn’t “disturb the flow of the week.” Jessica later half-jokingly explained that she was considering leaving the teaching profession and had planned to look for a job at a Starbucks that day, but the encounter and her agreement to collaborate with Mariana prevented her from doing so. This happened in June. In September, when Mariana arrived at the elementary school, Jessica handed her the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment Systems box with assessment forms and leveled books, asking her to conduct running records5 for all her students in English and in Spanish (she taught in a bilingual/dual language classroom). Through engaging in the work of the classroom, Mariana’s presence was gradually constructed as a coteacher and collaborator with Jessica. This process was complex. It was not composed of the enactment of particular practices predetermined or selected by Mariana, the university-based teacher educator, to be enacted by Jessica, but it entailed the ongoing negotiation of “Thirdspace sites in which inextricably intertwined temporal, social, and spatial relations are being constantly reinscribed, erased, and reinscribed again” (Soja, 1996, p. 18).


We negotiated the role of coteachers within the context of a primary grade in a New York City public school and sought to account for “the learning and development that happen in the movement across various temporal, spatial, and historical dimensions of activity” (Gutiérrez, 2008, p. 153). We systematically and intentionally worked together to transform learning, centering curriculum and teaching on the experiences, values, and knowledges of intersectionally minoritized children of color and their families and communities (we wrote about this in Souto-Manning & Martell, 2016, 2017, 2018, and in Souto-Manning, Lugo Llerena, Martell, Salas Maguire, & Arce-Boardman, 2018). This initial process of developing trust lasted about three months. During and beyond this time, in addition to coplanning, coteaching, and dialogically debriefing, we engaged in critical readings and mappings of in/equities in teacher education, developed questions, and learned together—collaboratively, actively, and participatorily—theorizing from and in practice. We engaged in two article- or chapter-length readings each week. Some of them were squarely in teacher education (e.g., Ladson-Billings, 2000a), and others pertained to racial inequities in and through schooling (e.g., Delpit, 2012). These readings were problematized in light of our collective and individual experiences in teacher education.


We deliberately cultivated a horizontal collaborative partnership rooted in “collective creativity as a key criterion of professional work and professional creativity as a defining characteristic of the professionality of teaching” (Ellis & McNicholl, 2015, p. 134). Operating within a horizontal collaborative partnership, we negotiated intellectual interdependence (Ellis & McNicholl, 2015). Intellectual interdependence (re)centered our learning on the values of people of color like us; as Latinas, we had grown up in families were interdependence was valued over independence (a value more highly prized by Eurocentric epistemologies). As we shared commitments and questions, agreed and disagreed, trust developed and became the bedrock of our collaboration. In reflecting on the foundations of our partnership, we can see how the space where we collaborated was characterized by transformative learning and shared expertise. It was from this relational space of intellectual interdependence that we sought to map and re-mediate the spatialization of teacher education in order to interrupt the inequities it fosters (Ball & Tyson, 2011; Ladson-Billings, 2000a, 2017).


MAPPING TO INTERRUPT INEQUITIES: DISRUPTING THE LOCATION OF TEACHER EDUCATION


Inspired by Ellis and McNicholl (2015), who proposed that the “relationships between . . . universities and the teaching profession are key to . . . working towards an agenda for the transformation of teacher education” (p. 135), we sought not only to map these layered relationships (relationally, physically, and pedagogically) in order to understand and trouble inequities, but also to re-mediate and transform them. Specifically, “to understand the intersections of race, power, and knowledge” in teacher education across university and school settings, we aimed to “expose the geographies that perpetuate or disrupt inequities in both processes and outcomes” (Annamma, Morrison, & Jackson , 2017, p. 4). Our avenue for interrupting injustice and fostering justice in and through teacher education was a collaborative participatory research study.


As two women of color, with the recognition that the sociospatial dialectic (Annamma, 2017) of teacher education in schools and universities needed to be troubled and transformed, we chose mapping methods that centered the experiences, voices, and values of intersectionally minoritized people and communities of color. Our framing required us to forefront and accentuate our expertise and the expertise of people of color within and across geographical locations and relational spaces, attending to “the human dimension of geography” (Schmidt, 2011, p. 251), honoring our expertise in our own lives, and seeing ourselves as knowledge generators (Annamma, 2017). We saw “mapping as a ‘mediational’ method . . . that actively interrogates the in-between spaces,” enabling us to re-mediate “conceptual landscapes . . . [in] various contexts and shifting structural conditions” (Futch & Fine, 2013, p. 44). Mapping (physically, verbally, and conceptually) afforded us the rejection of efforts to normalize pervasive binaries—such as theory and practice—that cloak inequities and uphold the interests of the dominant class (Mills, 1994; Scribner, 1970). It allowed us to problematize given realities, first spaces (Soja, 1996), and inquire into structural injustices, denouncing inequities in the spatialization of the teacher education programs to which we belong(ed) as students and teacher educators.


As is typical in university-based teacher education programs in the United States (Darling-Hammond, 2010; Zeichner, 2010), university classes are where teacher education students learn theories to be applied in clinical experiences at schools (student teaching and practica). To map our own histories as teachers and teacher educators, we engaged in “journey mapping, a qualitative methodology informed by a sociospatial dialectic, [which] provides an opportunity to collaborate . . . to socially and spatially study the injustices that occur” (Annamma, 2017, p. 47). Our maps were multilayered and complex (see Figure 1 for Mariana’s journey map, marked by spilled café con leche, a common fixture in our Friday afternoon meetings, and Figure 2 for Jessica’s journey map). Although we do not discuss all aspects of our journey mapping here, we offer some insights as a way of understanding our partnership.


As we looked at and talked about our teacher education journey maps, we unveiled how we both felt inadequate moving across educational spaces and entering U.S. public schools as teachers. Mariana double- and triple-checked everything she wrote in English, trying to avoid any spelling or grammar errors in notes to families (“Check your spelling twice! No! Three times!” and “AVOID PREPOSITIONS!” “on? in?”). As a way of conveying competence, she also explained how she avoided certain prepositions in her speech when she was not sure of whether their use was correct. Jessica wanted to position herself as a speaker of “academic Spanish,” suppressing some of her “Puerto Rican Spanish” from East Harlem. She was “careful not to speak Spanish with [Boricua] accent” (see Figure 2). In doing so, though, she was (inadvertently) disempowering her students whose Spanishes varied from the highly prized “Spanish from Spain” and had developed intergenerationally within the linguistically rich communities of New York City.



Figure 1. Mariana’s journey map


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The competencies we both sought to display as we became teachers were based on and aligned with Whitecentric norms and expectations. In Jessica’s journey map (Figure 2), this is marked by statements such as: “CULTURE IS FOR HOME, NOT SCHOOL,” which is central to her journey map, as well as by “ESL – NO MORE SPANISH!” and “Must only speak English!” In rereading and dialogically analyzing our maps, we realized that we had “re-presented” (encoded our own understandings of our experiences and realities—Freire, 1970) our journeys as pathological cartographies of difference, paradigmatically negotiating our own positionings of difference as deficit. We both had mapped spaces of double consciousness (Du Bois, 1903), even more than a century after the concept was defined. Not only were we engaging in internalized racism, but we were being seen through racist lenses as well (see the top of Mariana’s journey map, where she drew glasses and labeled them “racist lenses,” indicating how they read her according to the following questions: “Can you help me? Can I help you? You don’t belong here”). In Figure 2, similar questions and statements mark Jessica’s journey: “What does it mean to be Boricua? When am I PRican? American?,” and “NO SUCH A THING AS PUERTO RICAN/AMERICAN.” Jessica’s journey map re-presents her experience as a preservice teacher from a deficit perspective: “Time to relearn Spanish.” It also shows “the Veil” (Du Bois, 1903), which separated her as a multilingual Boricua from “normal” monolingual preservice teachers; competence was displayed by assimilating: “Be careful not to speak English with an ‘accent.’”


Across our maps, we mapped racial inequities as we realized that we both had been assumed by others to hold lower professional positions than we actually did—perhaps because of the stereotype that people of color hold assistant and lowly skilled positions and not positions as lead teachers or professors. Mariana was often assumed to be an administrative assistant rather than a professor, and Jessica an assistant teacher or paraprofessional rather than a lead teacher. Jessica explained how, on the first day of school, teachers of color were read by many parents and family members as paraprofessionals or assistant teachers, and White assistant teachers were assumed to be lead teachers, voicing, “It’s like teachers of color don’t exist. Even when we do. We are here! It’s like we are invisible, you know?”



Figure 2. Jessica’s journey map


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Our maps also represented features of our physical environments. Even though we each went to predominantly White institutions of higher education, we had both taught in schools serving predominantly children and families of color, most from low- and no-income backgrounds. As we talked through our maps, we described physical aspects of the communities that we inhabited as preservice teachers—for example, whereas there was abundant availability of fresh produce in the community surrounding the institutions of higher education we attended, the communities where we taught were characterized by fast food restaurants, convenience stores, and bodegas. Finally, our maps relayed political dimensions of our journeys—reflecting physical and social boundaries (between Brazil and the United States, and between Puerto Rican New York [East Harlem] and “mainstream” New York City) as well as racial boundaries (we both represented communities of color and predominantly White spaces in our maps). Our maps portrayed the ways we experienced racism.


We shared our maps and dialogically authored our journeys; we realized how our experiences were reflected in the many stories we had heard from school- and university-based teacher educators of color with whom we had worked. Our journeys were situated representations of how people of color had been marginalized—along with our knowledges, voices, and practices—in teacher education. We both shared emotional journeys of trauma, operating in a space marked by White superiority as the norm. We recounted how even though we had attended U.S. teacher education programs almost a thousand miles apart, we were both assumed to know how to teach children who looked like us. We were both positioned as objects of learning in our preservice teacher education programs instead of being served by and learning about teaching in them.


A few weeks after drawing maps of our journeys becoming teachers and reading them dialogically within the context of teacher education writ large, we drew maps of our current experiences as teacher educators—and the professional spaces we inhabited over the course of a week. Our maps showed not only the flow of knowledge from the university to the school, our predominant locations (Mariana being mostly at the university and Jessica being entirely at the public school where she was a teacher, regardless of her role in teacher education); Mariana’s map also portrayed the racial makeup of the university and school, which signaled the continuation of the status quo demographic and epistemological disproportionality favoring Whites. It was clear how Whiteness informed spaces overwhelmingly made up by people of color, and how this led to pathological positionings and understandings of children of color (see Figure 3). Additionally, to ascertain how our lived experiences were represented in the design of the teacher education program with which we were associated, we mapped the demographics of its faculty across a number of social identifiers (including race) as well as the coursework (through the analysis of syllabi, which we saw as mediating artifacts for teacher education across settings). We specifically sought to map the situated presence (and absence) of knowledges produced by people of color, unveiling how the knowledges, practices, values, and histories of communities of color were being positioned in teacher education. To preserve confidentiality, we do not share these maps here; yet, our mapping illustrated a racial and gender identity mismatch between the public school and university-based teacher education program regarding the demographics of students and teachers in each of the settings, while at the same time capturing the Eurocentric epistemological alignment of both (Ladson-Billings, 2000b).


Our mapping encompassed the rhetorical analysis of the program’s website and the catalogue with the description of the program’s courses. Our maps were permeated with words such as “typical” and “atypical,” “normal” and “abnormal,” “risk” and “resilience” when referring to children, families, and communities. These terms were employed in ways that positioned White children and families as “typical” and “normal,” and children and families of color as “risks,” “atypical,” and “abnormal.” They were also characterized by clinical courses being described by terms such as “apply” and university-based courses being described by “acquisition of skills,” “theoretical understanding,” and “knowledge.” These terms and stances index the very problems we described at the outset of this article as characterizing the field of teacher education. We identified only three courses (correspondent to nine credit hours) whose descriptions addressed racial and cultural diversity. This meant that in 18.75% of their program, the students with whom we worked were exposed to issues of cultural and racial diversity from an assets-based perspective. We also identified four required courses (correspondent to 12 credit hours) in which communities of color were positioned as risks. In at least 1/4 of their coursework, preservice teachers were seeing children of color as lesser than, and orienting to Whiteness as the norm. We confirmed such descriptions with an analysis of the syllabi associated with these four courses (the versions publicly available from the university, although we recognize that there may be variation with shifts in instructors). We supplemented our analysis by examining the syllabi of courses offered by faculty in the specific teacher education program whose descriptions did not address issues of cultural, racial, and linguistic diversity—corresponding to nine courses or 29 credit hours. In our analysis, we were specifically interested in how children, families, and communities of color (which comprise the numerical majority in today’s U.S. schools) were positioned.


We used the classification of how children and communities of color had been conceptualized over time (Goodwin, Cheruvu, & Genishi, 2008) as an organizational tool for our analysis of the syllabi of the courses in the program, attending to factors such as who was normalized in each course—through focus of readings and assignments—and who authored assigned readings. Then, we matched each course with one of the following paradigms: biological inferiority, cultural deficit, diversity (different from Whiteness), and intersectional justice. Making interpretive decisions regarding the predominant paradigmatic classification of each course, our mapping (although imperfect) elucidated how the design of the program was akin to teacher education programs writ large (per our literature review), pathologizing children and communities of color.



Figure 3. Mapping our current experience as teacher educators


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In mapping the program coursework, it became clear how the centrality of White ways of being and behaving constructed teachers who saw children of color through a deficit lens. Course readings were overwhelmingly authored by White authors and portrayed the raceless child (read: White by default). Whether overtly or covertly, many of the courses promoted the development of racist ideas and prominently featured Eurocentric epistemologies. The sanctioning of Whiteness as normal was marked in each of the syllabi associated with courses that did not overtly list issues of diversity in their descriptions—by invisiblizing children of color, their families, and/or their communities. Unsurprisingly, according to Jessica, many of the student teachers she had mentored over the years had entered her classroom with low expectations for intersectionally minoritized children of color.


This analysis made visible how, instead of blaming student teachers for enacting practices constructed within the context of teacher education programs that continue to uphold White supremacy, we teacher educators need to work to transform teacher education with a firm commitment to justice. In a situated way, and specifically within the boundaries of two teacher education courses in a preservice program, we worked together to ensure that the knowledges privileged in teacher education courses emanated from the lives and experiences of intersectionally minoritized individuals and communities. With the realization that “human spatiality in all its forms and expressions are socially produced” (Soja, 2010, p. 103), we aimed to transform teacher education in and through our collaborative practice, hopefully with the potential to generate theory for change.


RE-MEDIATING TEACHER EDUCATION


After engaging with critical race spatial analysis to map inequities in teacher education, we worked to re-mediate the work we do from an assets-based perspective. Instead of blaming student teachers and (inadvertently) ignoring systemic issues in teacher education, we turned to how we could interrupt inequities through the (re)spatialization of teacher education. Recognizing that space is never static—it only acquires meaning through mediations and social relations—we sought to re-mediate teacher education, rejecting ideologies of pathology and recognizing the need to transform teacher education.


We sought to legitimize the location of university-based teacher educators as learners and collaborators in public schools and the spatialization of teachers as teacher educators—in school- and university-based sites of teacher education. Thus, after coteaching second graders was established within the context of Jessica’s classroom (first semester of our collaboration), as a way of interrupting teacher education spaces in ways that disrupted inequities, Mariana relocated one of her preservice teacher education classes (Teaching Reading and Writing in the Primary Grades) to the public school where Jessica taught, thereby teaching preservice teachers within the physical space of Jessica’s classroom (second semester of our collaboration). Although this has been done before (e.g., Lacey & Lamont, 1976), in this study, more than the physical location was transformed. As the university class shifted to the physical space of a public school, our roles shifted as well. We were able to negotiate moving from first to third spaces. Mariana had (re)negotiated roles of teacher and teacher educator during our first semester together. During the second semester, Jessica (re)negotiated the development of her identity and practices as a teacher educator. Thus, we worked to disrupt teacher education’s locations and hierarchies, re-mediating its physical and relational components.


In addition to moving the teacher education class from the physical space of the university to a public school, we codesigned and cotaught the literacy methods course for preservice teachers, designing a third space where teaching and teacher education coexisted, and school-based and university-based teacher education boundaries were blurred. Tensions emerged as powerful learning spaces. We engaged in learning as boundary crossing and broke through first spaces, marked by the encapsulation of learning in discrete locations. This happened gradually. At first, when Mariana entered Jessica’s classroom, she took a more peripheral role, conducting assessments and facilitating small groups. As our partnership grew, Mariana and Jessica were positioned as coteachers in the classroom, planning lessons, conducting whole-class and small-group lessons, attending school-mandated professional development, and cofacilitating parent-teacher conferences. It was not uncommon for Mariana and Jessica to teach side by side. The children regarded their roles as teachers, and so did families. As discussed later in this article, within the context of the university, during the third semester of our collaboration, Jessica entered Mariana’s classroom as a participant observer, initially waiting for Mariana to invite her to share her experiences and insights. As the semester progressed, we took turns teaching, cotaught, and cofacilitated small-group activities. We both met with students during office hours and provided feedback on their assignments.


As we interrupted dominant conceptualizations of teacher education physically and relationally, we sought to interrupt dominant pedagogical practices. We started by planning together so that the activities and learning of preservice teachers would be aligned with the activities and learning of second graders. This resulted in the design of multilayered, coordinated learning opportunities for preservice teachers and second graders.


CRITICALLY TRANSFORMING TEACHER EDUCATION: HORIZONTAL COLLABORATION AS PROBLEM SOLVING


We worked together to re-mediate the content and experiences of the preservice teacher education course, seeking to foster expansive and robust learning. We centered the course on the lives and experiences of second graders in Jessica’s classroom—which had been previously ignored, marginalized, or silenced in teacher education coursework. That is, instead of acquiring the theories and knowledge in Mariana’s class located at the university and then applying and trying them out in their own placements, preservice teachers engaged in learning experiences alongside second-grade students, identifying, leveraging, and cultivating the strengths and assets of young children, their families, and communities. This resulted in “a particular social environment of development, a collective Third Space, in which students [could] begin to reconceive who they are and what they might be able to accomplish academically and beyond” (Gutiérrez, 2008, p. 148).


In such a space, preservice teachers learned to teach reading and writing from the lives, stories, voices, and experiences of young children from intersectionally minoritized backgrounds, coming to see their sophisticated practices and rich legacies. Intersectionally minoritized children, families, and communities were (re)positioned as capable, having practices and legacies that should be leveraged and sustained as assets in learning. As a teacher, instead of being an object of theory, analysis, and critique, as is typically the case in teacher education courses located within the physical space of universities, Jessica was (re)positioned capably and agentively as she codesigned and cotaught the teacher education class in collaboration with Mariana, thereby interrupting the traditional spatialization of the teacher education course physically, pedagogically, and relationally. In addition, the course allowed for the expected and prevalent directionality of knowledge (as portrayed in Figure 3) to be challenged, with schools and teachers being reframed as sites and agents of knowledge production, informing the work of university-based teacher education. Learning experiences were fashioned from the practices and knowledges children and families had.


For example, during our first semester working together, we re-mediated curriculum and teaching through the development of an oral history project entitled The History of Us. As part of this project, family members came to Jessica’s second-grade classroom to be interviewed on (or close to) their child’s birthday; this is how birthday celebrations were re-mediated in Jessica’s classroom (Souto-Manning & Martell, 2016; Souto-Manning et al., 2018). This re-mediation resulted in the construction of robust and meaningful learning environments. Seeking to describe The History of Us, Amada, one of the second graders, explained to the preservice class, “We don’t do goodie bags because it’s not really special; it’s not all about the goodie bag, it’s about your birth. That’s why it’s called birthday.” During the second semester of our collaboration, working one-on-one with preservice teachers, the second graders had the opportunity to author written versions of their oral histories, positioning family interviews as primary source data from which they could write informational pieces in ways that honored and sustained children’s and their families’ cultural assets (Souto-Manning & Martell, 2016) through the negotiation of a third space.


For both groups, preservice teachers and second graders, the learning environment was strengthened. In teaching teachers how to teach informational writing from the family interviews as primary sources (meeting mandated learning standards), we re-mediated our practices, constructing a more robust learning environment for preservice teachers and second graders alike. Unveiling ways in which preservice teachers could center family and community knowledges allowed them to realize how they could meet and surpass mandated learning standards in ways that built on children’s assets while challenging Eurocentric ways of knowing and engaging in transforming pedagogies. This process resulted in the construction of “pedagogical third spaces” (Souto-Manning, 2010) that are predicated on the “blurring [of] teacher-student/subject-object positions” and on the unpacking of “often fictitious lines that separate” official and unofficial knowledges and delineate the traditional spatialization of teacher education (p. 257).



Figure 4. A page from the book No Name Is the Same


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Additionally, we selected books and materials (artifacts) that codified sociospatial dialectics, bridging both learning environments. We positioned children’s books as re-mediational artifacts. The books read aloud, all by and about intersectionally minoritized people of color, codified issues of (a) gender-name associations across physical geographies (e.g., René), (b) linguistic and cultural privileging in/through names (e.g., the case of Jorge), (c) the (im)possibility of translating names (e.g., Yoon), (d) names that bring languages and cultures together (e.g., Marisol McDonald), and (e) teasing and bullying resulting from names that are deemed to be “different” (e.g., Unhei in The Name Jar). Reading I Am René, The Boy/Soy René, El Niño (Laínez, 2005), Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/Marisol McDonald No Combina (Brown, 2011), My Name Is Jorge: On Both Sides of the River (Medina, 1999), My Name Is Yoon (Recorvits, 2003), and The Name Jar (Choi, 2001) to both preservice teachers and second graders (re)positioned preservice teachers to facilitate a process whereby second-grade students wrote questions and conducted original research, asking family members about the history of their names. Then, they collaboratively coauthored a bilingual book in which each child’s name story was included. A page from the book No Name Is the Same (the English version of the page) can be seen in Figure 4.


These two examples—The History of Us and name stories—provide glimpses into situated representations of learning spaces that centered the expertise of children, families, and communities. Positioning intersectionally minoritized families as experts allowed preservice teachers to shift how they had paradigmatically positioned these families. Although when such re-mediations were introduced, preservice teachers expressed hesitations, illustrated by statements such as, “What if he doesn’t bring anything [pertaining to his/her name story interview homework] back?” and “I’m not sure the family will care [enough about his/her education to complete this assignment]”; they then shifted to enthusiastic remarks: “Wow! This is such a meaningful story!” and “I never knew how much they [the family] knew.” These pedagogical third spaces also afforded the second graders shifting understandings of their own families—from deficit-based to strengths-based understandings. It was not uncommon for children to say that their parent(s) “didn’t know nothing,” because of their primary language being Spanish. After interviewing their families, the children often shifted their views, coming to experience the expertise of their family members. For example, the name storybook authored by the children in Jessica’s classroom (Figure 4 is a page from that book) not only served to re-present second graders as unique and special and to center knowledges emanating from their families, but also challenged deficit views of intersectionally minoritized children’s practices and of their families’ knowledges. Preservice teachers could see how Celeste writing “sky blue,” a transliteration from Spanish to English, did not detract from her competence; it signaled her multilingualism; in the Spanish version of her name story, she wrote: “Mi nombre es Celeste, que significa ‘cielo azul.’” This is an example of deep learning.


We interviewed preservice teachers about their experiences after the semester was over and grades had been assigned; we saw how repositioning Jessica as a teacher educator opened up possibilities, “an-Other space” (Soja, 1996, p. 10) for preservice teachers who no longer saw an enormous abyss between theory and practice. As we read and compared their responses, we identified two prominent themes: (a) that the course brought theory and practice together and (b) that the course allowed them to challenge deficit assumptions they had brought with them about intersectionally minoritized children, families, and communities. The following comments are representative of these themes. “This is like theory in practice. So much work, but so worth it,” a preservice teacher stated. Another said,


I didn’t think I was bringing assumptions with me. Boy, was I wrong. When you told me that [my student’s] parent would come, I immediately thought, they wouldn’t show up. But they did. I was embarrassed by my assumptions. This lesson will always stay with me as I begin to teach in my own classroom come this September.


Overwhelmingly, the reflections of preservice teachers highlighted how re-mediating teacher education resulted in a third space of possibility for developing teachers to see theory in practice and to let go of deficit assumptions, which so pervasively permeate teacher education.


In semester three of our collaboration, Jessica cotaught with Mariana in the university setting. This happened as a result of Jessica re-mediating Mariana’s idea of re-mediation. At one of our Friday meetings during our second semester of collaboration, Jessica said, “You know, we always talk about power and hierarchy. And sometimes we may feel like they don’t exist, but they do. You are at [the university] but I haven’t set foot in a college class for like 10 years.” Jessica made visible the need for teacher education to be transformed, bringing a tension to bear. We regarded tensions as sites for learning, (re)positioning them positively.  Thus, crossing boundaries, further re-mediating and transforming our work, we cotaught a course on critical multicultural approaches to teaching young children at the university where Mariana was employed. The class informed and was informed by the work we were doing in Jessica’s classroom, being another instantiation of a “pedagogical third space” (Souto-Manning, 2010).


There were many instances of re-mediating teacher education and learning in third spaces. That semester, one example occurred around Columbus Day, a month after the multicultural teacher education course had started. Jessica had read Bigelow’s (2014) chapter “Once Upon a Genocide: Columbus in Children’s Literature” and discussed it with preservice teachers in the university class she was coteaching with Mariana. She had also read about story acting in a dual-language kindergarten classroom, inspired by the work of Augusto Boal (Souto-Manning, 2013). Through critical reflection and action, Jessica leveraged learnings from Bigelow’s, Boal’s, and Mariana’s work and engaged in (re)designing her teaching of second graders based on her experience teaching (and learning in) the university-based multicultural teacher education course. The opportunity to re-mediate teaching and teacher education came about when Jessica informed her class that they would be off on the forthcoming Monday because of a holiday. A second grader asked Jessica, “What’s this holiday about?” Jessica responded by saying, “We will talk about it later.” She took this opportunity to partner with a fourth-grade teacher in her school, Abigail Salas, arranging for the fourth graders to “discover” and take over her second-grade classroom while her second graders were in physical education class (Figure 5).



Figure 5. Fourth graders “discover” a second-grade classroom


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Then, when they came back from physical education, Jessica’s second graders were shocked and surprised. At first, they were surprised that another class was occupying their classroom. With the exception of one boy whose sister was in Abigail Salas’s class, they were confused, scared, and/or angry. Jessica, even having codesigned the learning experience, voiced sincerely, “I feel like crying.” The second graders entered the classroom slowly; they asked the fourth graders why they were there. One of the children said, “We were exploring and we discovered it. We found it.” When one of the second graders suggested that they exchange classrooms, the fourth graders were quick to indicate, “We gonna keep both. We go there when we feel like it and be here when we feel like it.” Trying to exert power, the second graders said, “But we won’t give you the password for the computer and the SMART Board.” This was met with, “We hold one of you hostage til you do.” As the situation started progressing toward abuse of power, Jessica and Abigail stopped story acting and involved their students in discussing what was happening. The children considered multiple perspectives and made connections to Columbus.


Disrupting the traditional location of teacher education clearly contributed to Jessica’s development and practice as a teacher and impacted her students’ learning. Her students expanded their perspectives and problematized colonialist curricula, as illustrated by statements they voiced, which made visible their understandings of issues of historical injustices; examples include, “Columbus is a farce!” and “Columbus promoted slavery. How can people celebrate Columbus Day?” as well as “And there is a statue of Columbus in [New York City’s] Columbus Circle. Why?” The second graders also inquired into gender (in)equities (e.g., “Why were the conquistadores men and their ship had girl names, you know like cars and girls’ names—Lexus, Mercedes?”) and questioned issues of language in traditional colonization histories (e.g., “How did Columbus communicate with indigenous people?” and “Did they speak the same language? If not, we know his story is untrue”). In this learning space, students were questioning the Eurocentric authoring of a historical event—thus, problematizing a common fixture in U.S. curriculum.


A week later, we re-mediated the preservice teacher education classroom, saturating it with rich tools for learning emanating from Jessica’s second-grade classroom, including (a) a video of what had taken place in Jessica’s second-grade classroom, (b) questions Jessica’s second graders had posed and reflections they had written, (c) multimodal texts the second graders had considered (e.g., historical documents, picture books, children’s videos portraying critical perspectives of Columbus Day), and (d) the website and video for the Indigenous Peoples Day campaign. Through boundary crossing, we shared the video of this learning episode with our teacher education class at the university. The video served as a lived counternarrative to many of the comments that preservice teachers had made the previous week, such as, “I can see how you can rethink Columbus in high school, but in early childhood, it’s like you are pushing your own agenda.” This experience informed preservice teachers’ understandings of curriculum and teaching that center on issues of justice and equity—problematizing and interrupting colonialist master-narratives, such as Columbus Day. The preservice teachers were impressed that the video showed them how rethinking Columbus could be done in a child-centered way, but also how it led to children’s questionings of other intersecting injustices—such as sexism and linguicism. We also invited them to critically analyze lesson plans on rethinking Columbus Day available from the Rethinking Schools, The Howard Zinn Project, and Teaching Tolerance websites. Their teacher education curriculum and development as beginning teachers were centered on the experiences and voices of children from minoritized backgrounds. As a result, they saw assets-based, justice-focused teaching as a real and feasible possibility.


After the semester was over and grades had been recorded, we interviewed preservice teachers regarding the impact of the course on their teaching beliefs and practices. After sharing an abbreviated version of the video we had shown during the semester they were taking the course with us, we asked them to reflect on this as a situated example of how Jessica’s practices informed the course and (potentially) influenced their preparation and clinical practice. Students overwhelmingly indicated that they had been impacted by seeing teaching for justice in practice—from a dialectical perspective. One of them said,


It was like we were there, you know. Some classes you read about ideas and theories and they seem so distant, so impossible. Seeing Jessica’s teaching was so helpful. It was aligned with the course. It was all so real. There wasn’t this big space between the theories and the practice. It was like theory in practice.


Another student said, “It really helped me understand how to do this. I probably won’t do it like Jessica, but I know that it can and should be done.” That is, crossing boundaries and blurring roles had moved beyond “a Secondspace . . . that interprets . . . reality through ‘imagined’ representations” (Soja, 1996, p. 6) and fostered pedagogical third spaces, which afforded expanded learning opportunities for preservice teachers within the re-mediated physical context of the university.


Again and again, whether within the physical space of the public school where Jessica taught or in the university where Mariana taught, we continuously sought to re-mediate teacher education across physical, relational, and pedagogical geographies, negotiating “pedagogical third spaces” (Souto-Manning, 2010). We worked together to map and design robust learning in between official or sanctioned spaces, affording “new ways of thinking about space and social spatiality” (Soja, 1996, p. 2) and underscoring the power and possibility of transforming teacher education. We see pedagogical third spaces, such as the ones briefly described earlier, as sites for intervention and innovation resulting from the interruption and displacement of master-narratives that have historically justified White supremacy and Eurocentric epistemologies as pervasive features of the teacher education landscape.


The construction of third spaces through re-mediation allowed us to explore the potential for creativity and innovation produced in-between, in intersections of relational, physical, and pedagogical first spaces that uphold inequity and injustice (Gutiérrez, 2008; Soja, 1996) and second spaces, ""imagined" representations of spatiality" (Soja, 1996, p. 6). Third spaces demanded new ways to re-mediate the sociospatial dialectic of teacher education and required the recognition, interruption, and revision of power hierarchies and inequities which had been culturally and historically constructed in universities and schools in ways that privilege White superiority and shape how we as a field currently do teacher education.


REFLECTION


As we crossed borders and blurred multiple boundaries, re-mediating the first spaces where teacher education takes place, we redefined roles, revisioning teachers and/as teacher educators. We re-mediated the “script” and “counterscript” of teaching and teacher education, designing a third space at the intersections of official and unofficial, formal and informal, schools and universities, teaching and teacher education (Gutiérrez, 2008; Soja, 1996). This is captured by Jessica’s recounting of our partnership, offered soon after our collaboration concluded. Specifically focusing on the semester in which she cotaught the university-based teacher education course, she underscores how—for her—transformation did not conclude at the relocation of the teacher education class to the physical space of a primary school. What follows is a transcription of her oral response.


Prior to coteaching the graduate course Multicultural Approaches to Teaching Young Children with Mariana . . . it had been 10 years since I had been inside of a college classroom. Mariana and I have since cotaught the course again, but [that semester] really served—and in my opinion still serves—as a model of how an early childhood classroom teacher and a teacher educator could collaborate in a manner that benefits both the teachers—both educators—and all of the students involved. What I think really worked is that there was a great deal of mutual respect between the two of us. For me, it was important to be able to work with someone who truly believed in my expertise. For both of us, it was important that we be flexible and willing to learn from each other in order to better teach our students, but also learn from our students. We crossed, as we crossed into each other’s spaces we needed to blur the lines of classroom teacher and teacher educator, but we also needed to cross, to blur the lines of teacher and student. When we were in the second-grade classroom, we were both second-grade teachers. When we were at [the university], we were both teacher educators, college professors. I benefitted a great deal because I was able to share my practices with preservice teachers and reflect on what went well and what could have been done differently. Oftentimes, the happenings of the second-grade classroom led and supported the discussions and lessons in the university classroom and vice versa. The discussions at the university led to even better lessons in my second-grade classroom. Finally, what I believe made this experience work especially well for all the parties involved—the teacher educator, the classroom teacher, the second grade students, and the university students—was that it was authentic. Everything was happening as we were teaching the class; it was current, and every lesson, every discussion, every activity involved real students [from intersectionally minoritized backgrounds], not just reading about students [and their deficits], but actually working with students.


As portrayed in the preceding transcription, even though Jessica had been working as a school-based teacher educator, mentoring preservice teachers and new teachers for a number of years, the official locations of teaching and teacher education had—to that point—remained separate, as illustrated by her statement, “It had been 10 years since I had been inside of a college classroom.” This captured a problematic spatial boundary between teaching and teacher education. Jessica made visible the centrality of relationships in reconfiguring teaching and teacher education—and of teacher education across settings—thus underscoring the importance of interrupting not only traditionally delineated physical boundaries but relational realms and pedagogies as well.


The horizontal nature of our partnership was made clear by Jessica’s narrative retelling; expertise was truly distributed—as illustrated by her statement that “it was important to work with someone who truly believed in my expertise.” Her statement captures the horizontal and dialogical learning process described earlier, which resulted not only in the creation of new knowledge but also in the transformation of our work and reinvigoration of her teaching career. This is illustrated by Jessica’s statement, “As we crossed into each other’s spaces we needed to blur the lines of classroom teacher and teacher educator, but we also needed to cross, to blur the lines of teacher and student.” We both embraced intellectual interdependence (Ellis & McNicholl, 2015) as a lynchpin of our collaboration and learning journey. We negotiated third spaces for (re)doing teacher education, mapping injustices and constructing spaces of possibility in-between officially and traditionally bound physical, pedagogical, and relational geographies. As Jessica identified, we re-mediated teacher education, thereby establishing more robust learning ecologies for preservice teachers and students in (public) schools through the coplanning, codesign, and implementation of pedagogical third spaces.


ON THE POWER AND POSSIBILITY OF TRANSFORMING TEACHER EDUCATION


Despite constant attacks on university-based teacher education, “teacher education as a field within the discipline of Education has been somewhat conservative in approaching its own development” (Ellis & McNicholl, 2015, p. ix). University-based teacher education programs like the one with which we were associated have traditionally been the sites where preservice teachers learn, whereas schools have been the sites where student teachers apply what they learn in university courses (Zeichner, 2010). Despite historical and contemporary efforts to strengthen the connections between university-based teacher education programs and (pre)schools (Lacey & Lamont, 1976; Zeichner, 2010), university-based teacher education remains located in distinct relational and physical locations—in spaces punctuated by distinct players with historically sedimented roles. Overwhelmingly, teacher education remains located within university-school partnerships where power differentials often go unacknowledged and unchallenged. That is, in universities, professors are positioned as experts—imparting knowledge—and students of teaching are positioned as recipients and appliers of such knowledge, in a vertically organized hierarchy. Physically, universities are deemed to be sites of knowledge, often referred to as “ivory towers,” separate from communities. They are where students of teaching learn about theories. (Pre)schools and classrooms, much closer to communities, are deemed to be application sites. This is symptomatic of the field; in the United States, university-based teacher education has traditionally employed “the historically dominant ‘application of theory’ model” where preservice teachers learn theories and content at institutions of higher education (e.g., colleges and universities) “and then go to schools to practice or apply what they learned” (Zeichner, 2010, pp. 90–91). In the past, trying to address this disconnect, teacher educators have sought to develop stronger connections between university-based coursework and school-based experiences. Although well intentioned, we posit that attempts to create “hybrid spaces to more closely connect campus courses and field experiences in university-based preservice teacher education” (Zeichner, 2010, p. 89) have still kept power hierarchies in place and continued to foster inequities, deeming university educators to be more important and knowledgeable than school-based educators and the communities where schools are located. We propose that to address and interrupt such inequities, teacher education must attend to the need to simultaneously transform teacher education’s physical, relational, and pedagogical locations (as shown in this article).


While we recognize that blurring the boundaries of teaching and teacher education is not necessarily a new innovation (after all, research documents its occurrence as a feature of partnership with schools for over four decades—e.g., Lacey & Lamont, 1976), we are well aware that the transformation per se is not restricted to and cannot be achieved solely through/in physical geographies. For transformation to occur, “the old paradigm of university-based teacher education where academic knowledge is viewed as the authoritative source of knowledge about teaching needs to change to one where there is a nonhierarchical interplay between academic, practitioner, and community expertise” (Zeichner, 2010, p. 89). The old paradigm has been problematized as researchers in the field have underscored the need for learning in and through practice (Hammerness, Darling-Hammond, & Bransford, 2005); yet, our collaboration offers a sharp departure from a narrow focus on practice as a simplistic way to transform teacher education—such as the approach taken by the Core Practice Consortium, which oversimplifies practice and vertically organizes university-school partnerships (Ellis & McNicholl, 2015; Philip et al., 2018). Instead, we carefully and deliberately attend to the spatialization of teacher education in ways that interrupt the very inequities that have historically characterized the field. We recognize that we need a “new epistemology for teacher education [which] will create expanded learning opportunities for prospective teachers that will better prepare them to be successful in enacting complex teaching practices” (Zeichner, 2010, p. 89), lest White-centric modes of learning and racial injustices continue to prevail. This new epistemology ought to be centered on the lives, experiences, and values of intersectionally minoritized individuals and communities of color, repositioning community knowledge at the heart of teacher education as a matter of justice.


CONCLUSION


In this article, through a critical race spatial analysis of teacher education, we unveiled the ways in which current models of teacher education continue to pathologize intersectionally minoritized populations and produce inequities as design features. We unveiled how the prevalent architecture of university-based teacher education programs continues to perpetuate social inequality in and through teacher education. Working to transform the inequitable status quo we documented and analyzed, we shared how we worked to build a horizontal collaboration marked by intellectual interdependence and shared expertise across physical, relational, and pedagogical geographies, thereby moving to transform teacher education through the re-mediation of its traditional first space and the design of a third space. The kind of horizontal partnership we negotiated stood in stark contrast to dominant and prevalent vertically organized teacher education partnerships, which position universities above—having more importance, expertise, and legitimacy—and schools below, in disconnected ways. It required us to challenge and change the traditional division of labor between universities and schools in developing and educating teachers—especially preservice—and led to the relational revision of teacher education.


In a situated way, we collaboratively worked toward equity and justice—and sought to transform teacher education, negotiating new norms and responsibilities. To do so, we engaged in authoring pedagogical, physical, and relational countercartographies, purposefully and intentionally rejecting the positioning of Mariana as the teacher educator and Jessica as peripheral to the work of teacher education, as someone who hosted student teachers who would, in turn, apply what they learned in university-based teacher education classes. The collaboration we codesigned enabled pedagogical third spaces for transformation and offers an example of what is possible in and through teacher education. There are many possibilities afforded by the purposeful and systematic transformation of teacher education. One of which—and a much-needed one—is the interruption of injustices, which current models and the first space of teacher education un/intentionally uphold. Thus, we propose that the critical transformation of spaces, physically, pedagogically, and relationally, offers the potential not only to lead to more robust and transformative teacher education, but, if taken up collectively, to become a design feature for the profession, as it also offers the potential to interrupt injustice and foster justice.


Notes


1. Although we recognize that our primary roles are university-based teacher educator (Mariana) and public school teacher (Jessica), in this article, we seek to author counternarratives to the historically sedimented master-narrative of teacher education and (re)frame Jessica’s role to purposefully and centrally encompass that of a school-based teacher educator.


2. We use the term intersectionally minoritized instead of minority because, “as a characterization of people, ‘minority’ is stigmatizing and often numerically inaccurate. . . . ‘Minoritized’ more accurately conveys the power relations and processes by which certain groups are socially, economically, and politically marginalized within the larger society” (McCarty, 2002, p. xv). Combining minoritized with intersectionally acknowledges “prejudice stemming from the intersections of racist ideas and other forms of bigotry, such as sexism, classism, ethnocentrism, and homophobia” (Kendi, 2016, p. 5).


3. Here, first spaces refer to what Soja (1996) described as “a Firstspace perspective . . . focused on the ‘real’ material world,” in contrast to “a Secondspace perspective that interprets this reality through ‘imagined’ representations of spatiality.” What we refer to as third space builds on Firstspace and Secondspace perspectives and “can be described as a creative recombination and extension” (p. 6).


4. We (Mariana Souto-Manning and Jessica Martell) cotaught second graders in a New York City public school for three academic years. Together, we sought to develop culturally relevant teaching practices and foster continuities between teacher education courses and student teaching placements. We have coauthored a number of works portraying facets of our collaboration (e.g., Souto-Manning & Martell, 2016, 2017, 2018).


5. A running record is an assessment of a reader’s accuracy, fluency, and comprehension.


Acknowledgements


This work was supported by a grant from the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). We offer our gratitude to Danny C. Martinez, Sandra Schmidt, and Jamy Stillman for their comments, insights, and critiques on earlier versions of this manuscript.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 121 Number 6, 2019, p. 1-42
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22731, Date Accessed: 5/28/2022 7:26:02 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), and 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. (Access Professor Souto-Manning's extended bio.
  • Jessica Martell
    New York City Schools
    E-mail Author
    JESSICA MARTELL is an elementary school teacher with over 20 years of experience working with diverse student populations in New York City's public schools. She is coauthor of the award-winning book Reading, Writing, and Talk: Inclusive Teaching Strategies for Diverse Learners, K-2 (with Mariana Souto-Manning). In 2017, she received the New York City Department of Education’s Big Apple Award, which celebrates and recognizes teachers who inspire students, model great teaching, and enrich their school community.
 
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