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Preparing Early Childhood Educators for Diverse Classrooms: Engaging Identity Through Dialogic Pedagogy


This dissertation examined how an intervention called intergroup dialogue (Nagda & Zúñiga, 2003) shaped a cohort of teacher education students. Specific attention was paid to the ways in which intergroup dialogue effected the identities of participants as well as how it impacted how they “saw” race in their classrooms and how they thought, talked, and the way they planed to teach about race and other identities in their work with students. Data collection methods included analysis of written reflections from participants collected throughout their dialogue experience, a final reflection paper regarding their dialogue experience, written reflections that asked them to consider the ways in which race and other identities were engaged or not engaged in their student teaching classroom, and interviews with each participant six months after their intergroup dialogue experience that asked them to reflect on identity, intergroup competencies, and engaging race and other identities in the context of the classroom. Results suggest that intergroup dialogue was an effective experience for participants by helping them prepare for teaching across difference. Participants reported a sense of expansion of multiple identities, feelings of empowerment and commitment to action, and a sharpened ability to “see” the impact of race, racism, and racial identity in the context of teaching and learning in schools. At the same time, while some participants took it upon themselves to “lean in” and engage race in the context of their student teaching placements, many felt that they were missing critical mentoring from their guiding teachers on how to most effectively be anti-racist educators. As students of color continue to grow in number in public schools (Hussar & Bailey, 2014) it is of the utmost importance that teachers be prepared to engage race in their classrooms and teach across difference. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.

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