Preservice Teachers Understandings of Caring.Report as inadecuate

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This study examined preservice elementary teachers' understandings of the role of caring in educational contexts. Rather than attending to process variables (the teachers' emergent practices), the study focused on presage variables (the teachers' beliefs and understandings) and the teachers' reflections on their classroom experiences. Participants were 17 students in an Elementary Classroom Organization and Management course. Data comprised the weekly dialogue journal responses (via email) assigned as a course requirement. Journal entries revealed several important and commonly held aspects of the student teachers' understandings of caring: essentialism (that caring and teaching are rooted in instinct), oversimplification (for example, centering beliefs about the relationship of teaching and caring in one's own emotions), and romanticism (idealistic descriptions of caring teaching that showcase preservice teachers' optimism and hope for their lives in the profession while simultaneously reflecting their lack of real-world experience in classrooms). The study concluded that these understandings are troubling to teacher educators because they make novice teachers vulnerable to burnout, exhaustion, and perfectionism, but that these preconceptions also offer an ideal starting point for productive, educative dialogue about caring and elementary school teaching practice. (Contains 36 references.) (EV)

Descriptors: Elementary Education, Higher Education, Preservice Teachers, Teacher Education, Teacher Motivation, Teacher Response, Teacher Student Relationship

Author: Goldstein, Lisa S.; Lake, Vickie E.


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