Zeichner and Bier (2015) noted the “opportunities and pitfalls” of the shift toward a greater focus on field experiences in teacher education programs in the United States. In particular, equitable opportunities for all teacher candidates to experience and apply culturally sustaining ELA praxis are even fewer given the marginalization of these pedagogies in schools under pressure to meet curricular standards and improve test scores. The COVID-19 global pandemic rapidly transformed the landscape of ELA teacher candidates’ field experiences in 2020. Using Grossman’s (2009) theoretical framework of representation, decomposition, and approximation of practice to analyze teacher learning, the authors explored and analyzed the opportunities and constraints of virtual fieldwork during a global pandemic. Implications are addressed for technology-supported opportunities to learn in the field that will endure beyond the current moment.
At the start of the pandemic, a lot of talk occurred about reimagining education, especially since the inception of schooling in America is not built for Black children. Research has examined the violence against Black children in schools, not to mention the double pandemic that they are experiencing with COVID-19 and the country’s history of racism. As a Black scholar-practitioner, this author was hopeful for the future of education and teacher education. As the school year approached, however, and universities made a decision about virtual, hybrid, or in-person teaching and learning, the author noticed that the content or pedagogical practices had not changed or been reimagined, especially in English Education teacher preparation programs. As an effort to shift from talking about reimagining to action, the author utilized the framework of being, learning and teaching, and technology as a pedagogical tool to center Blackness in redesigning the course, English Language: Grammar and Usage, that did not enact linguistic violence or center white Mainstream English (Baker-Bell, 2020).
This study used the commognitive framework (Sfard, 2009) to study the learning of preservice teachers in a collaborative digital environment, examining a case of commognitive conflict around using informal and multimodal representations to discuss poetry as opposed to formal academic English. The analysis shows the complexity of power relationships around language use in collectively owned online spaces and the difficulty of shifting the leading discourse when teachers step back and allow students to drive digital discussions.