A Collaborative Process for Incorporating Universal Design for Learning and Evidence-Based Practice into Inclusive Teacher Education Programs
Spencer Salend and Catharine Whittaker
In light of the need to prepare reflective and effective teachers who can differentiate their instruction to support the learning of all students in inclusive classrooms, this article describes the collaborative process faculty have used to incorporate universal design for learning (UDL) and evidence-based practice (EBP) into an inclusive teacher education program’s curriculum and practicum experiences. Initially, faculty mapped the curriculum by agreeing upon a common definition of UDL and EBP, reviewing the research to create EBP documentation charts, which were used to constructing self-assessment tools known as innovation configurations (IC). Faculty used the IC to identify and address the strengths and gaps within the program’s courses and clinical experiences and align courses with online interactive instructional resources related to UDL and EBP. To bridge the gap between research and practice and guide educators in making evidence-informed decisions, faculty developed a 10-step practice-based evidence assessment and instructional model to collect and analyze classroom-based data about the efficacy, acceptability, and fidelity of one’s instructional practices and use of UDL and EBP. Faculty revised and field-tested a lesson plan template that prompted educators to personalize their instruction and make it more explicit by addressing such factors as student diversity and collaboration, and employing UDL, EBP, instructional and assistive technology and formative and summative assessment. Faculty also redesigned the program’s lesson observation form used to better evaluate preservice teachers working in inclusive classrooms and provide them with feedback related to their effective use of EBP, UDL, instructional and assistive technology, and assessment and classroom management strategies. The lesson observation form also was revised to make it more reflective of the program’s curriculum reform efforts related to the use of UDL and EBP, and to align it with the national teacher education accreditation standards, national and statewide teacher evaluation, curriculum and teacher education certification standards.
Sarimah binti Shaik-Abdullah, S. Kanageswari Suppiah Shanmugam, and Mohan Chinappan
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
The quality of education in any country rests on school communities as a whole. However, the real implementers of innovations and changes in curriculum are teachers. Teachers, as practitioners, are the ones most often held accountable for successes and failures in educating schoolchildren. The way to facilitate teachers in handling challenges and keeping up with curriculum renewals is through constant support in the form of continuous professional development (CPD) by means of action research. Action research as CPD has been viewed as a critical platform for advocating change, which is the outcome of teachers’ ability and autonomy to lead in making informed decisions about their own practices. Given its usefulness, action research is found well established, vastly practiced, and widely published in the Western countries. This has raised the question of the spread of action research as CPD in the Southeast Asian region. Preliminary analysis reveals that in some Southeast Asian countries, such as Timor Leste, there is limited literature on action research, while in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, action research has been well documented. At the same time, there’s an emerging trend in Southeast Asian countries to adopt different models of action research. In Malaysia, for instance, action research has been primarily classroom based, whereas in Indonesia, a critical and community-based approach to action research seems to be prevalent. This suggests that the kinds of action research conducted in the different Southeast Asian countries may reflect variations in cultural, economic, and geographic landscapes. Given the importance of action research to teacher practitioners and school leaders, and in providing an identity to the action research approaches conducted in Southeast Asia, the historical trail of action research presents a window to the nature of CPD concerns of each country, as well as the successes and challenges of conducting action research as CPD for sustained impact.
An Exploration of Evolving Approaches to Teacher Identity Revealed in Literature on Teaching from 2010 to 2018
Teacher identity is conceived in complex ways, in part because of the attention that must be paid to both the personal and the professional dimensions of teaching experience. In addition, teacher identity as a concept is closely intertwined with the notion of teacher agency, as well as with the potential for a teacher to encounter ongoing challenges in the development and adjustment of identity in diverse educational contexts. Literature on teaching from a range of areas—teacher education, preservice teaching, in-service teaching in schools, and university or higher education teaching—reflects a variety of existing approaches to teacher identity. Despite the complexity of the concept, understanding teacher identity remains of critical importance to individual educators, to institutions and to society as a whole.
Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor and Lynn Sanders-Bustle
There are several interrelated themes in arts-informed pedagogies and teacher preparation: (1) the arts as tools to improve students’ academic achievement in other content areas such as math, science, social studies, language arts, and foreign language; (2) the arts as holistic and dynamic process for meaning-making; (3) the arts for teachers’ own professional identity and satisfaction (e.g., for teacher reflection, teacher retention, job satisfaction, and relationship-building); and (4) the arts for social change, social justice, and education advocacy work. There are a series of key questions and concerns regarding where, how, and why arts-informed teacher education practices are used, who uses them, and to what end.
The art-based action research (ABAR) method has its roots in action research, particularly in participatory action research (PAR) and action research in education and is clearly linked with international artistic research (AR) and art-based educational research (ABER). The ABAR methodology was developed collaboratively by a group of art educators and researchers at the University of Lapland (UoL) to support the artist-teacher-researcher with skills and professional methods to seek solutions to recognized problems and promote future actions and visions in the changing North and the Arctic. On the one hand, the need for decolonizing cultural sustainable art education research was identified in multidisciplinary collaboration with the UoL’s northern and circumpolar network. On the other hand, the participatory and dialogical approach was initiated by examining the pressures for change within art education stemming from the practices of relational and dialogical contemporary art. ABAR has been developed and completed over the years in doctoral dissertations and art-based research projects on art education at UoL that are often connected to place-specific issues of education for social and cultural sustainability.
The multi-phased and long-term Winter Art Education project has played a central role in the development of the ABAR methodology. During the Winter Art Education project, ABAR has been successfully used in reforming formal and informal art education practices, school and adult education, and teacher education in Northern circumstances and settings. Winter art developed through the ABAR method has supported decolonization, revitalization, and cultural sustainability in schools and communities. In addition, the ABAR method and winter art have had a strong impact on regional development and creative industries in the North.
Schools, teachers, and students are increasingly able to access and apply assistive technology to enhance inclusion within mainstream classrooms. To ensure that a classroom is truly inclusive, the teacher and other professionals involved in supporting children with disability using assistive technology require appropriate knowledge and skills to bring potential to reality. There are many successful examples of assistive technology successfully embedding into the practices of inclusive setting, but there is still some way to go to ensure this is a seamless approach. There are many benefits and difficulties associated with adopting assistive technology to support students with disability, particularly in developing countries. While the challenges may be great, the potential for assistive technology to impact significantly on the educational, social, and recreational outcomes for students with disability in inclusive classrooms is immense.
Belmira Oliveira Bueno
Since the 1980s, in different countries, researchers and educators have put into action a number of studies of teachers’ biographies, teachers’ narratives and stories, as well as other ways of employing life history methods, in order to renew the field of education. A vast literature has been produced in the last decades on this perspective, giving testimony to a surprising growth of the educational area under the impulse of such approaches. There was a clear need for a methodological renewal of this field but also a need of a revision of the functions of school and to the way of conceiving education. The idea of lifelong learning frames this scenario and the expectations outlined in the turn of this century, altering profoundly the functions of school and the ends of education. The biographical approaches are taken as an attempt of meeting such demands. However, the work with life histories and biographies has shown different directions, following from a conjugation of factors and from more specific demands for education present in the respective contexts where such experiences have taken place. Such approaches are part of a broader movement of individualization and subjectivism that characterizes contemporary society. The two perspectives focused on in this article—that of English-speaking countries, with a predominant focus on the life and career of teachers; and those developed in Francophone environments, with the focus on the continued education of adults—have shown great growth particularly during the 1980s and 1990s, giving testimony to the appeal that biographical approaches exerted upon researchers and educators. It presents the features of these two trends preceded by an incursion into the field of sociology aiming at highlighting some relevant methodological and epistemological issues. By this way we intend to emphasize the potentiality of biographical approaches to the knowledge of education, drawing attention to the challenges for individuals’ lives in the contemporary society and for the emergence of new ways of conceiving the subjectivities by the new human and social theories.
Harrison Hao Yang and Jason MacLeod
Practices of blended learning are being wholeheartedly accepted and implemented into the mainstream processes of educational delivery throughout the world. This trend follows a large body of research that suggests blended learning approaches can be more effective than both traditional face-to-face instruction and entirely computer-mediated instructional approaches. However, in teacher education there are two important factors that influence the outcomes of blended learning; first, the articulation of differences between instructional approaches, and second, the understanding of key pedagogical strategies that support student success. Research on blended learning in teacher education should include both preservice and in-service teacher participants. Preservice teachers are individuals operating in the preparation and training stages, prior to assuming full responsibility of a professional teaching role. In-service teachers are individuals practicing as teachers that are typically still toward completion of their early career induction training to the profession.
Both historical utilization and future research trends are evident through a critical analysis of the last three decades of highly cited scholarship on blended learning in teacher education. Historical utilization trends show an emergence of online and blended learning approaches, which reached nearly 30% of postsecondary education students in 2016. Future research trends include evidence-based practices, preparing for active learning classrooms, building capacity for practical training, collaborative teaching opportunities, leveraging blended learning to improve education equity, and cultivating mixed reality blended learning environments. Researchers, practitioners, administrators, and policymakers should continue to stay informed on this topic and continuously find ways to improve the application of blended learning in teacher education.
Raja Maznah Raja Hussain
Coaching as a method of professional development is now practiced in higher education to supplement and replace the traditional methods of new faculty induction, workshops, and training programs. Coaching may be more appealing for Generation Y (millennial) academics as it allows for a more personalized professional development and takes into consideration individual needs for support in the early years of their career. Support offered through coaching allow young academics to set their own goals, focusing on what is important to them in regard to teaching, research, publication, and student supervision. Depending on what the goals are, a young academic may need to engage with several coaches who would facilitate and help to steer the achievement of those goals, whether immediate goals such as publication or long-term goals such as promotion. The coaching process requires trust and patience on the part of both the coach and the coachee to build a relationship that will drive transformation. Coaching is known to benefit both the coach and the coachee as the journey is a deep learning process. The coachee develops self-belief and confidence through finding solutions and alternative ways to move forward, and the coach develops skills and refines techniques. Formalized coaching programs in higher-education institutions require commitments from everyone at all levels. An institution planning to implement coaching needs to take into consideration the readiness of the institution to engage with and support the coaching plan. A coaching culture helps the institution to flourish as it fosters members who are motivated to help others to grow.
Institutes of higher education around the world have increasingly adopted community-based experiential learning (EL) programs as pedagogy to equip their students with skills and values that make them more open to an increasingly unpredictable and ill-defined 21st-century world. Values of social justice, empathy, care, collaboration, creativity, and resilience have all been seen as potential benefits of community engagement through EL. In the field of teacher education, the goals of preparing teachers for the 21st century have undergone similar changes with the local community being positioned more and more as a knowledge space that is rich in learning opportunities for both preservice and in-service teachers. It is no longer enough for teacher educators to only focus on the teaching of classroom strategies and methods; beginning teachers’ must now move toward a critical interrogation of their role as a community-based teacher. Boundary-crossing projects established by teacher education institutes and that are embedded in local communities can complement more traditional pedagogies such as classroom-based lectures and teaching practicum. Such an approach to teacher education can allow for new teachers to draw on powerful community knowledge in order to become more inclusive and socially connected educators. In sum, community-based EL in teacher preparation programs can create a hybrid, nonhierarchical platform for academics, practitioners, and community partners who bring together different expertise that are all seen as being beneficial to teacher development in a rapidly changing and uncertain world.
While research has shown that community-based EL projects can bring tangible benefits to students, universities, and community members, a number of contentious issues continue to surround the topic and need to be addressed. One concerns the very definition of community-based EL itself. There is still a need to better characterize what community-based EL is and what it involves, because too often it is seen in overly simplistic terms, such as voluntary work, or categorized loosely as another example of service-learning endeavors, including field studies and internship programs. There has also been a paucity of research on the degree to which community-based EL projects in teacher training actually help to promote subject matter teaching skills. Other ongoing issues about the case for community-based learning in teacher education today include the question of who the teacher educators are in today’s rapidly changing world and to what extent noneducation-related community partners should be positioned as co-creators of knowledge alongside teacher educators in the development of new teachers’ personal and professional development.
Susan D. Martin, Vicki McQuitty, and Denise N. Morgan
Complexity theory offers possibilities for thinking about the challenges and opportunities inherent in teaching, teacher learning, and many other networked systems in teacher education. Complexity theory is a theory of learning systems that provides a framework for those interested in examining how systems develop and change. It is transdisciplinary in nature, drawing on insights from diverse fields across both the hard and social sciences, and when applied to education may provide a complex rather than simplistic view of teaching and learning. Further, complexity theory has the potential to offer a powerful alternative to linear and reductionist conceptualizations, with implications for methodology of teacher education research as well as its analysis and design. This small but growing body of work has influenced teacher education in two ways. First, scholars have argued for complexity theory’s usefulness as a framework to understand and describe how teacher education functions as a complex system. The second category of work, smaller than the first, uses complexity theory to frame and analyze empirical studies. Much of the emerging body of research conducted from a complexity theory perspective is descriptive and largely confirms what has been theorized. Empirical work has confirmed that a variety of systems, at different levels, influence teacher learning and pedagogical decisions. Gaps in our knowledge still exist, however, as theorists and researchers continue to struggle with how complexity theory can best serve teacher education for the benefit of teachers and students.
Maureen Robinson and Rada Jancic Mogliacci
Initial teacher education programs across the world bear many resemblances to one another in respect to their overall design features. Students generally follow courses that teach them foundational knowledge pertaining to education, like psychology or sociology, disciplinary knowledge in particular subject areas, and general and specific pedagogical knowledge. In addition, students are exposed to varying degrees of school placements. Despite these similarities in overall structure, the curriculum content and activities of teacher preparation may vary considerably, dependent on the underpinning conceptions of the goals and purposes of the program. Historical and geographical contexts also influence the choice of particular goals for teacher education.
Conceptions of teacher education can be clustered in a number of major approaches, each with its own subcategories. Although different terminologies may be used in the literature, the six major categories are as follows: a social justice approach, a master-apprentice approach, an applied science approach, a teacher identity approach, a competence approach, and a reflective approach. Each approach has certain key features and implications for curriculum design in teacher education, including vision, goals, content, teaching and learning methodologies, and the relationship between schools and colleges/universities. An example here is the difference between an applied science approach, based on the notion of teachers putting theories into practice, and a reflective practice approach, where teachers are encouraged to construct personal theories in and from practice. A second example of the different emphases is the extent to which education is located within its larger social context, with the relationship between school and society being more explicit within a social justice than a competence approach to teacher education. Conceptions may be implicit or explicit; in reality, most programs embody hybrid models with emphasis in particular directions.
The articulation of the key concepts, principles, and assumptions that underpin the design of teacher education programs contributes to the field in various ways. Promoting an understanding of different traditions of teacher education helps establish a shared vocabulary and knowledge base; this can improve the quality of teacher education through deepening academic debate and enhancing program coherence. In addition, strengthening the conceptual base of teacher education supports the professional autonomy of teacher educators, through advancing debate on the purposes, ethics, and politics of education and providing tools to discuss the curriculum implications of policy reform.
Fred A.J. Korthagen and Ellen E. Nuijten
The core reflection approach aims to deepen teacher reflection and development. The approach takes teachers’ core qualities and ideals as the starting point for reflection, and links the professional and the personal in teacher development. Core reflection can also be applied to other professional groups, and to students in primary and secondary education. It is based on a model of levels of reflection, briefly named the onion model, which includes the following levels: environment, behavior, competencies, beliefs, identity, mission, and “the core,” which refers to personal strengths. The onion model helps to differentiate between behavior-oriented reflection and a deeper kind of reflection, in which attention is given to three goals: (1) building on strengths and ideals (called “the inner potential”) of the person, (2) helping the person deal with inner obstacles limiting the actualization of the inner potential, and (3) preparing the person for using their potential and dealing with obstacles autonomously. In order to reach these goals, people can be coached using specific principles, which are partly based on positive psychology:
1. Focusing on personal strengths;
2. Giving balanced attention to cognition, emotion, and motivation (thinking, feeling, and wanting); and
3. Giving attention to inner obstacles.
These principles are brought together in a phase model for core reflection, with five phases: (1) describing a concrete situation; (2) reflection on the ideal, and on a core quality or qualities; (3) reflection on an obstacle; (4) using the inner potential; and (5) trying a new approach.
Core reflection is being used around the world, both in teacher education programs and in schools. Several research studies into the processes and outcomes of core reflection have shown that it leads to in-depth professional development and improved behavior, in both the short and the long term. However, more research is needed, for example research in which long-term outcomes of the core reflection approach are compared to those of other approaches.
Teresa Cremin and Debra Myhill
In the field of writing in education two strong, even common-sense, views exist, drawing largely on everyday logic rather than evidenced justification: first, that to teach writing effectively teachers must be writers themselves and second, that professional writers, those who are writers themselves, have a valuable role to play in supporting young writers. But rarely have these views been brought together to explore what teachers can learn about being a writer from those who are writers. Nor are these perspectives unquestioned. The positioning of teachers as writers within and beyond the classroom has been the subject of intense academic and practitioner debate for decades. For years professional writers have visited schools to talk about their work and have run workshops and led residencies. However relatively few peer-reviewed studies exist into the value of their engagement in education, and those that do, in a manner similar to the studies examining teachers as writers, tend to rely upon self-reports without observational evidence to triangulate the perspectives offered. Furthermore, the evidence base with regard to the impact on student outcomes of teachers’ positioning themselves as writers in the classroom is scant. Nor is there a body of evidence documenting the impact of professional writers on student outcomes.Historically, these two foci - teachers as writers and professional writers in education - have been researched separately; in this article we draw them together.
Predominantly professional writers in education work directly with students as visiting artists, and have been positioned and positioned themselves as offering enrichment opportunities to students. They have not therefore been able to make a sustained impact on the teaching of writing. Moreover, while writers’ published texts are read, studied, and analyzed in school (as examples for young people to emulate), their compositional processes receive little attention, and the craft knowledge on which writers draw is rarely foregrounded. In addition, writing is often viewed as the most marginalized creative art, in part due to its inclusion within English, which itself has been sidelined in the arts debate.
Notwithstanding these challenges, research and development studies have begun to create new opportunities for collaboration, with teachers and professional writers sharing their expertise as pedagogues and as writers in order to support students’ development as creative writers. In such work the challenges, constraints, and consequences of students and teachers identifying themselves as writers in school has been evidenced. In addition, research has sought to document the practices of professional writers, analyzing for example their reading histories, composing practices, and craft knowledge in order to feedforward new insights into classroom practice. It is thus gradually becoming recognized that professional writers’ knowledge and understanding of the art and craft of writing deserves increased practitioner attention for their educative possibilities; they have the potential to support teachers’ understanding of being a writer and of how they teach writing. This in turn may impact upon students’ own identities as writers, their understanding of what it means to be a writer, and their attitudes to and outcomes in writing.
The structure of teacher education in Germany has to be regarded in close connection with the structure of the German school system. Five different types of teachers (five Lehrämter) correspond to the several levels and types of schools in Germany. All teachers are educated and trained as part of a process consisting of two phases: During the first phase of five years, all future teachers attend university and study their two or three specialized subjects as well as education, while carrying out internships in schools. After that, they pass over to the second phase at a specialized teacher-training institution that prepares them for the necessities of practical classroom teaching in their subjects. This second phase lasts one-and-a-half or—in three of the sixteen German Länder—up to two years. Having passed the final state examination they apply for an available position at a school. The system of initial teacher education in Germany is very intensive and ambitious; on the contrary, the in-service or further education of teachers is not very well developed. This article sketches the basic structure of teacher education in Germany. As Germany is a federal state consisting of 16 Länder, and as school and teacher education matters are decided at the level of these Länder, each Land has its specific teacher education system, slightly different from the general model.
Teacher education has been and is criticized constantly: the courses at university are not sufficiently connected to the requirements of the second phase and the later work the students must carry out in schools. Because of this constant critique teacher education is continuously being reformed. As part of a general reform of the higher education system, teacher education was integrated into the bachelor’s-master’s system (the Bologna process). Not all hopes linked to this reform have come to fruition. Some other reforms deserve a mention. In the universities, Centers for Teacher Education have been established to organize and supervise all processes and actors involved in teacher education. Internships in schools have been expanded and restructured. Standards for all curricular elements of teacher education have been developed on the level of the federate state and have been adopted in Länder and universities very slowly. In some of the Länder, the differing lengths and academic levels of the different teacher education programs for the different types of teachers (Lehrämter), which formerly led to different salary levels and career opportunities, have in parts been graded up to the top level.
Nevertheless, teacher education in Germany is characterized by profound and persistent problems. All resources and hopes are still directed toward initial teacher education. In-service teacher education remains underdeveloped. The career system of qualified teachers in service does not mirror the career path of a teacher; in-service training does not respond to the processes and problems of individual teacher development. The changing conditions in the labor market for teachers undermine efforts to improve the quality of teacher education in a sustainable way. On the positive side, it can be noted that in Germany—and worldwide—research on teacher education, its processes and results has grown rapidly in the last two decades.
Looking back at the so-called Arab Spring, one sees people across these countries where the uprisings took place (e.g., Libya) still enduring political repression and change, a growth in threats of terror, and conflicts between tribes and militias, all of which have led to constant violence and a struggle for power. Events in Libya in 2019 suggest that there is an urgent need for education about democracy—a culture of creating a positive environment among people, increasing their awareness of their community, and helping them make decisions and achieve their goals. The qualities a democratic education set out to develop such a positive environment, and undoubtedly schools should be the place where all of this should begin. However, the supreme leader of Libya (Al-Qaddafi) used education in mainstream schools as a propaganda tool for his dictatorship; perhaps this is why the role of schools in Libya has been far removed from cultivating the practices necessary to maintain democratic values. Hence, the idea of democracy was not fostered from within its mainstream school system. A strong need exists to move away from schools that reproduce authoritarianism and toward schools that consciously encourage the notions of democratic skills, values, and behaviors within the classroom and the school as a whole. At present, mainstream schools in Libya are still predominantly organized along authoritarian, hierarchical, and bureaucratic lines; consequently, they continue teaching obedience and submission rather than encouraging freedom of thought and responsibility. The traditional methods of teaching, which focus on rote learning to pass exams instead of fostering creative and independent thinking, are still heavily used. Thus, teachers have a moral responsibility to use education to advocate for democracy, empowering students to learn about democratic values and prepare them to participate in democracy and become better citizens.
Lorri Beckett and Amanda Nuttall
The case story of a local struggle in the north of England by research-active teachers to raise their collective voice and advocate for more realistic policies and practices in urban schools is one which premises teacher activism. A school–university partnership initiative exemplifies how teachers, school heads, school leaders, and academic partners can work together to address disadvantaged students’ lives, learning needs, and schooling experiences. The practitioners’ participation in an intensive, research-informed project to build teachers’ knowledge about poverty effects on teaching and learning was successful in the yield of teacher inquiry projects which were published. However, teachers’ efforts to combat student disaffection and under-achievement were deprecated with a lack of system support to the point where democratic impulse and social justice goals were weakened. It would be a misnomer to describe these teachers’ professional intellectual and inquiry work as activist, but they did engage in transformative practices. This led to the production of new knowledge and teachers working collectively toward school—and community—improvement, but it was not enough to effect policy advocacy. Professional knowledge building as a foundation of teacher activism is foregrounded in the matter of trust in teachers. To agitate for change and action in a vernacular neoliberal climate means to fight for teachers’ and academics’ voices to be heard.
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
For teachers to effectively engage in given pedagogical practices, they need to have beliefs that support these approaches to teaching. These are not philosophical beliefs per se; rather, they are the individual understandings that teachers hold about the nature of knowledge and knowing, which underpin and guide their actions and which are referred to as personal epistemologies. A wide range of paradigms for understanding and studying personal epistemologies is evident in the research literature in this field, but these different perspective and approaches—while varied in outlook and conclusion—point to how important it is that initial teacher education courses allow for the development of sophisticated personal epistemologies through explicit teaching that enables students to think ontologically and epistemologically, and that teacher educators initiate and sustain reflective and discursive practices throughout their courses to promote the best possible outcomes for the children that student teachers will go on to teach in their subsequent careers.
José Ignacio Rivas-Flores
Teaching’s purpose is to build a society’s knowledge and skills through a group of students using a curricular proposal within a social and institutional framework. It therefore takes place in institutions specifically created for this purpose, which, as such, represents a culturally constructed environment that is in line with the conditions of the society in which this process unfolds. Thus professional cultures have been historically constructed according to the working conditions, the teaching experiences transmitted from generation to generation, and the evolution of the educational systems. In addition, institutional cultures are developed according to the particular history of each school. Student cultures also form as social groups within these institutions. This represents a complex system that goes beyond mere instruction by curriculum. Preparing the professionals who will go on to work in these institutions requires an understanding of these cultural frameworks and the competence to be able to act on them. Ethnographic research promotes an understanding of educational reality from a critical reflective perspective, and this is only possible if researchers themselves participate in those frameworks. Ethnography can be understood as a shared construction of places for reflection, aimed at comprehending the cultural, social, and political phenomena that involve participants in the processes of change and transformation. Teacher preparation must, therefore, be established with an ethnographic approach, which reconstructs the school experience from a critical reflective perspective. In this way, the conditions for developing a professional identity based on the reconstruction of this experience are created. The theories, in this case, offer the opportunity to pursue this critical dialogue, breaking away from the prescriptive role that they adopt from a positivist perspective. Ethnography contributes to the tasks through three basic dimensions. First, teacher preparation throughout is an object of educational inquiry: there are many research studies of an ethnographic nature that report teacher training methods in an attempt to understand the processes taking place. Second, ethnographies are a tool for preparing future teachers: in this case, this refers to a curricular use of ethnography aimed at future teachers’ understanding of the educational processes through research. Third is a way of understanding learning—in other words, ethnographic attitude as a learning strategy and the use of ethnographic inquiry strategies and tools as means of learning about educational processes. This last case generally entails staying and acting in schools, and it is what most clearly links research and teaching in a shared process.
Ethnography is about cultural representation, which implies a gaze and set of questions and assumptions about who is being represented, by whom, and what for. In this sense, ethnography always is conducted across borders where borders imply a set of differences to confront and understand, even while the ethnographer is expected to effectively overcome these through embedded practice in the field. If the enterprise of conducting these studies is always marked by border crossing, then what are the different ways in which border crossings happen in knowledge production through ethnography? How does the definition of “border” change the way ethnographic studies are performed? Potential shifts in the meaning of “borders” heightens the importance of interrogating cultural representation, the social locations that ethnographers occupy, see, and speak from, and how perspectives on cultural representation and actual representations will differ. These dynamics build up when, as here, ethnography across borders implies the presence of the nation-state, either as palimpsest or direct actor in the relations and daily lives of the community-participant in the ethnography.
Borders are necessarily evoked—geopolitical, social, cultural, national, regional, global, and personal ones, such as gender, race, class, and ethnicity. Ethnography across borders emerges in this instance as a methodology and a stance to deconstruct the ways in which ethnographers and ethnographies are radically situated in their own histories, and how radical contextualization of those histories is required to understand across borders and uncover the limits of cultural representation, language, and ethnography as a tool to understand the lives of people, their histories, and communities.