From "I am" to "we could be"
Vasconcelos, Erika França de Souza
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This critical classroom ethnographic study comes in response to calls for empirical studies that illustrate and model dialogic practices associated with preparing ESOL pre-service teachers to teach in our ever-increasingly diverse K-12 education context. I explore the theory, practice, and implications of teaching, learning, and doing research dialogically in an undergraduate ESOL teacher education class at a research university in the southeastern United States. Drawing from Freirean critical pedagogy, dialogue is conceptualized as a democratic pedagogical communicative relation (Burbules, 1993) that acts directly on the social world as it mediates learning and knowing among people bound by habits of heart, but also free to differ and diverge from one another. Two main layers comprise the study: dialogue as pedagogy and dialogue as research method. The first layer examines the complex dynamics of events, experiences, discourses, and relationships in this classroom setting. I offer a “thick description in motion” (Bloome et al., 2005, p. 53) of the language-mediated actions and reactions that the participants practiced over time, as the course instructor, a “critical innovator in the Discourse of teaching and learning” (Willett & Miller, 2004, p. 53), positioned the students as important knowledge-producers. The class was encouraged to revisit and expand their notions of culture, diversity, and school achievement, towards developing a critical multicultural perspective on teaching and learning. The second layer in this study offers a “thick description in motion” of the fluid, dynamic, sustained, and recursive processes of actions and reactions that the participants and I as the researcher engaged in over time, in and out of the classroom. On one level, the study found that the dialogic pedagogy practiced by the instructor facilitated humanizing relations, community building, deep learning, critical awareness raising, and critical self-reflection among the students, contributing to their development as prospective ESOL teachers. On another level, the study illustrates dialogic research as a process tailored to each participant, with the potential to produce rich research data and promote personal and collective learning and positive change. The findings of the study demonstrate the potential of dialogic work in teaching and research in ESOL teacher education programs.