Moving toward: using a social justice curriculum to impact teacher candidates


Secondary and Middle Grades Education

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Elementary and Early Childhood Education

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Purpose Public schools are spaces where capital-T transformation in teachers is needed (Guillory, 2012). To shift schools to places where all communities are valued, teacher education programs must create spaces where shifts in beliefs and practice can occur. This study aims to describe how the use of a social justice curriculum framework impacted teacher candidates by creating such a space. Design/methodology/approach This is an ethnographic study. Qualitative ethnography is appropriate when “the study of a group provides an understanding of a larger issue” (Creswell, 2015, p. 466). In this case, studying the impact of a social justice framework on the children and teacher candidates in the program allows the researchers to capture the relationships developed during the course of the program and study. Findings The framework created valuable experiences for both teacher candidates and elementary age participants. Data were collected to determine the impact of the program on all participants. The authors discuss implications for practitioners planning a social justice curriculum and for teacher educators planning field experiences for teacher candidates. Research limitations/implications The need for shifting beyond culturally relevant pedagogy has been well documented in the field (Cho, 2017; Guillory, 2012; Paris, 2012). Moving toward – culturally sustaining pedagogy, multicultural social justice curriculum, critically conscious teachers – must be a priority in teacher education (Banks, 2013; Convertino, 2016). This has been explored in other studies, particularly in studies of merging – or emphasizing – multicultural and social justice education and curricula (Cho, 2017; Lawyer, 2018; Sleeter, 2018). What sets this study apart, and what needs further exploration diverse, is how to set up multicultural social justice education projects involving culturally and economically teacher education candidates and students working together (Cammarota, 2016; Lawyer, 2018; Valenzuela, 2016). Originality/value The questions that arise from this study make it new in the field. These include how to set up these diverse field experiences, including how to increase recruitment and retention of culturally and economically marginalized students in teacher education programs (Cammarota, 2016; Castaneda, Kambutu and Rios, 2006). These are important questions to consider in designing research and recruitment projects in colleges of teacher education. Exploring how to push multicultural education into multicultural social justice education deserves additional attention and exploration (Cammarota, 2016; Lawyer, 2018; Sleeter, 2018; Valenzuela, 2016).

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Journal for Multicultural Education

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