Smagorinsky, P., Jakubiak, C., & Moore, C. (2008). Student teaching in the contact zone: Learning to teach amid multiple interests in a vocational English class. Journal of Teacher Education, 59, 442-454.

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Smagorinsky, P., Jakubiak, C., & Moore, C. (2008). Student teaching in the contact zone: Learning to teach amid multiple interests in a vocational English class. Journal of Teacher Education, 59, 442-454.
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Document Transcript Journal of Teacher Education DOI: 10.1177/0022487108324329 2008; 59; 442 Journal of Teacher Education  Peter Smagorinsky, Cori Jakubiak and Cynthia Moore English ClassStudent Teaching in the Contact Zone: Learning to Teach Amid Multiple Interests in a Vocational   The online version of this article can be found at:   Published by:   On behalf of:   American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE)   can be found at: Journal of Teacher Education Additional services and information for Email Alerts: Subscriptions: Reprints: Permissions: Citations  at UNIV OF GEORGIA LIBRARIES on November 17, 2008 http://jte.sagepub.comDownloaded from   442 Student Teaching in the Contact Zone Learning to Teach Amid Multiple Interestsin a Vocational English Class Peter SmagorinskyCori Jakubiak Cynthia Moore University of Georgia This case study investigates the decision making of Joni,a high school English teacher,during her student teaching in anApplied Communications II teaching assignment,comprised of students in the lowest tier of a four-track senior Englishcurriculum. This course served as a “contact zone”for a set of competing interests:Joni’s stated beliefs about effectiveteaching based on her experiences as a student,the Applied Communications curriculum,the student-centered pedagogyadvocated by her university professors and supervisor,and the students’beliefs about the Applied Communicationscurriculum. The analysis finds that Joni’s student teaching was complicated by the different values of the variousstakeholders who converged in her classroom,producing disagreement about the motive of the activity setting of her studentteaching. The study concludes with a consideration of both the purpose of vocational English classes and the preparationthat novice teachers receive to teach them.  Keywords: teacher thinking; teacher education; contact zone; tracking; beginning teachers I n his study of a university’s first-year composition pro-gram,Durst (1999) describes the “collision course”that instructors and students travel when they arrive withvery different beliefs about the raison d’être for theclass. At the University of Cincinnati,the site of hisresearch,many students take a pragmatic view of theircollege education,matriculating to elevate their stationin society. First-year composition,in these students’view,should have a utilitarian emphasis,teaching themwriting skills that will help them succeed in their upper-level coursework and ultimate careers.The first-year composition instructors,however,typi-cally adopt a critical theory stance toward writing peda-gogy. Rather than simply teaching students how to writein accordance with college expectations,they take amore political perspective in which they instruct theirstudents to use writing as a means to critique and trans-form society into a more equitable place. Often,thiseffort involves requiring students to critique their ownprivilege. This emphasis,in the view of many students,assumes of them a privilege that they do not believe thatthey have and further provides for the course a purposethey believe it ought not have. These competing assump-tions and interests,argues Durst (1999),make first-yearcomposition courses problematic in terms of the variousstakeholders’beliefs about what is appropriate for theclass’s curriculum,instruction,direction,and assessment.The intersection of oppositional interests in a socialsetting has been described by Pratt (1999) as a contact  Journal of Teacher Education Volume 59 Number 5November/December 2008 442-454© 2008 Sage Publications10.1177/0022487108324329http://jte.sagepub.comhosted at Authors’Note: Work on this article was supported by a grant from theOffice of Educational Research and Improvement to the Center onEnglish Learning and Achievement (CELA),and from there to the firstauthor. CELA is supported by the U.S. Department of Education’sOffice of Educational Research and Improvement (Award #R305A60005). However,the views expressed herein are those of theauthors and do not necessarily represent the views of the department.Thanks to the editors and external reviewers of  JTE  for their contribu-tions to the development of this manuscript. Please address correspon-dence to Peter Smagorissky,Department of Language and LiteracyEducation,The University of Georgia,125 Aderhold Hall,Athens,GA30602;  at UNIV OF GEORGIA LIBRARIES on November 17, 2008 http://jte.sagepub.comDownloaded from    zone. To Pratt,contact zones are sites where members of different cultures “meet,clash,and grapple with eachother,often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relationsof power”(p. 76). The examples Pratt provides are oftenextreme in this regard,such as the inequitable relation-ship between master and slave. However,more nuancedversions of a contact zone are often in evidence inschools,where a host of relationships—often involvingpeople of disproportionate power—intersect in complexways. At times such a nexus of competing values andinterests provides the site for the violence implied byDurst’s (1999) “collision”metaphor or Pratt’s “clash”of values. At other times,however,the different concep-tions of the classroom’s purpose provide for a more sub-tle,less cataclysmic convergence of interests.In this study,we investigate a student teacher’s peda-gogy in a 12th grade English class called AppliedCommunications. The class was designed to teach voca-tional-track students both a literature-oriented curricu-lum and the skills they presumably needed to find jobsand succeed in the workforce. We analyze teacher candi-date Joni’s experiences in relation to the four primaryperspectives that intersect,interact,and come into con-flict in her teaching of the Applied Communicationsclass:(a) Joni’s stated beliefs about effective teachingbased on her experiences as a student,(b) the AppliedCommunications curriculum as interpreted by her men-tor teacher,(c) the student-centered pedagogy advocatedby her university professors and supervisor,and (d) thestudents’reported beliefs about the appropriateness andusefulness of the Applied Communications curriculum.In light of these interests,we explore the followingresearch question:What are the consequences for Joni’steaching as a result of the ways in which she acknowl-edges and interprets these four perspectives? Theoretical Framework Leont’ev’s (1981; cf. Wertsch,1985) account of the motive of a setting provides a useful construct for under-standing the dynamics of a contact zone (Grossman,Smagorinsky,& Valencia,1999). Borrowing terms fromSarason (1972),Wertsch (1985),and others,we refer tothe contexts that mediate the development of conscious-ness as activity settings. Lave (1988) makes a distinctionbetween an arena ,which has visible structural features,and a setting ,which represents the individual’s construalof that arena. Thus,although two teachers may work atthe same arena (e.g.,a school or English department),they may have distinctly different understandings of itbased on their own goals,histories,and activities. Theythus experience the same arena as different settings.When a teacher candidate is subservient to both the uni-versity’s and the school’s priorities during student teach-ing,there is great potential for an educational arena tobecome a contact zone in which different conceptions of setting come in conflict.As outlined by Cole (1996),settings are  proleptic ; thatis,established assumptions about appropriate socialfutures implicitly shape people’s present action to bringabout those very futures. Rheingold and Cook (1975),for instance,found that parents often both anticipate andhelp to construct their children’s gendered futures,deco-rating boys’rooms with transportation motifs and otherworldly pursuits and girls’rooms with dolls,lace,andother domesticalia. The shaping of children’s environ-ments by adults projects a life trajectory that is oftenreinforced across the many settings in which youngpeople are socialized into appropriate adult roles. Thissense of optimal outcome,both for individuals andwhole social groups,has been described by Wertsch(2000) as teleological ; that is,having a sense of designtoward a preferred purpose. The constructs of telos andprolepsis suggest that every social setting has a motive (Leont’ev,1981),or broad social destination,that is con-tinually encouraged through both explicit and implicitmeans. At the same time,the notion of a contact zonesuggests that this official or predominant motive may becontested by those who are outside the power structure.Merging the goals of various stakeholders into a com-mon motive is highly complex. Multiple and competinggoals and destinations often coexist within a setting,although typically the goals of the most powerful peopleand groups predominate. The motive for a setting,then,while not specifying the actions that take place,provideschannels that encourage particular ways of thinking andacting,and discourage others. Student teaching illustratesthe ways in which a setting may accommodate diverse andsometimes antagonistic goals,with schools and universi-ties often envisioning different roles for the teacher.Student teaching often becomes a setting in which differ-ent stakeholders vie for control over the instructionalapproach,resulting in a two-worlds pitfall for teacher can-didates (Feiman-Nemser & Buchmann,1985) in whichthey must be responsive to the demands of competinginterests. Further,another set of stakeholders,the students,may invest the arena with other goals and expectations,resulting in classrooms in which,while an official desti-nation is operationalized in a curriculum,the sense of setting and attendant goals constructed by different partic-ipants may be at odds and come in conflict.Our study of Joni’s teaching in an AppliedCommunications class employs the construct of theactivity-setting-as-contact-zone as a lens for understanding Samgorinsky et al. / Student Teaching in the Contact Zone443  at UNIV OF GEORGIA LIBRARIES on November 17, 2008 http://jte.sagepub.comDownloaded from   her decision-making during student teaching. We nextoutline how this theoretical framework has provided uswith the terms and concepts through which we collectedand analyzed the data for our study. Method Data Collection The research design as a whole was conceived by thefirst author along with his colleagues Pamela Grossmanand Sheila Valencia as part of research conducted throughfunding acquired by the Center on English Learning andAchievement (CELA) from the U.S. Office of EducationalResearch and Improvement. The research team for thisstudy collected the following data.  Data not formally analyzed. Some data sources werenot subjected to a formal analysis. We consulted thesedata to provide the context of the investigation. Forexample,information about the teacher education pro-gram emerged in Joni’s gateway interview,our inter-views with her professors and supervisors,and theconcept maps that the students produced for the research.We extracted what we saw as germane to the focus of this study and included it in our account. The followingsources were employed for such purposes: 1.We conducted a gateway interviewwith Joni duringwhich she spoke in response to questions in the fol-lowing categories:her apprenticeship of observation(i.e.,what she had learned about teaching based on herexperiences as a student; see Lortie,1975),her per-sonal philosophy and conceptions about teaching,herpreservice coursework,and her field experiences priorto student teaching (data collected by the first author).2.We conducted interviews with Joni’s university English education professors about their experiencesas teachers and their approach to teacher education(data collected by the third author).3.We conducted interviews with Joni’s mentor teacher and university supervisor  at different points during herstudent teaching (data collected by the third author).4.We solicited two group concept maps produced by thecohort of research participants before and after studentteaching (data collected by the first author).5.Joni provided us with curriculum documents and  plan-ning books that influenced her decisions about teach-ing(data collected by the third author).  Data subjected to formal analysis. The formal analy-sis was conducted on data collected during three obser-vation cycles. An observation cycle consists of apreobservation interview,two classroom observationsrecorded via field notes,and a postobservation interview(data collected by the third author). Data Analysis We developed a coding system derived from priorwork in this line of inquiry to identify the pedagogicaltools that Joni emphasized in her student teaching(e.g.,Bickmore,Smagorinsky,& O’Donnell-Allen,2005;Smagorinsky,Sanford,& Konopak,2006; Smagorinsky,Wright,Augustine,O’Donnell-Allen,& Konopak,2007). This coding system is grounded in a Vygotskianperspective on teaching and learning that views humandevelopment to be a consequence of goal-directed,tool-mediated action in social context (Wertsch,1985). Thecodes employed for this study focused on the pedagogi-cal tools that Joni used in her teaching and the source sheidentified for learning how to use each (i.e.,the attribu-tion for each tool coded). By “tools”we mean thoseimplements—tangible or psychological—through whichshe enacted her practice (see Grossman et al.,1999),such as a worksheet,a small group activity,a game for-mat,and other means for instructing students.The observation cycle interviews and field notes wereread and analyzed by the first and second authors. Eachtool was coded for the name of the tool and the attribu-tion Joni provided for where she learned of the tool andhow to use it. We identified the following major cate-gories for our codes: 1. Open-ended: This code describes occasions when Joniprovided instruction that allowed students to take theirown directions with their learning,such as when theyinterpreted stories through drawings. In response toopen-ended teaching,students could represent theirknowledge in idiosyncratic ways.2. Orthodox—academic: We used the term orthodox  toaccount for teaching decisions that required of students a “straight”response (consistent with theGreek term ortho ’s root)—that is,conforming to anestablished expectation. Joni’s use of orthodox teach-ing in the academic area came when she stressed cor-rectness in students’use of language,structure of writing,accuracy in recalling information,and otherareas of conformity to received knowledge.3. Orthodox—behavioral: We coded data as orthodoxbehavioral teaching when Joni attempted to teachproper conduct,especially in relation to the vocationaldimensions of the curriculum,such as using a properhandshake,filling out job applications accurately,dressing properly,and demonstrating other aspects of expected workplace behavior.4.  Attribution: We applied this code whenever Joni iden-tified a pedagogical tool,for example,workbooks, 444Journal of Teacher Education  at UNIV OF GEORGIA LIBRARIES on November 17, 2008 http://jte.sagepub.comDownloaded from   Samgorinsky et al. / Student Teaching in the Contact Zone445  journal writing,and others elaborated in Table 1.Throughout the interviews Joni would be prompted toattribute her pedagogical tools to a source such as hermentor teacher or her university professors. Attributionsfor orthodox teaching and behavior were typically madeto influences at the site of student teaching:her cooper-ating teacher,the curriculum materials,and so on.Attributions for open-ended teaching were more likelyto be made to her teacher education course work or her-self as the srcinator of ideas.Table 1 charts the frequency of each specific tool foundwithin the open-ended  , orthodox-academic ,and orthodox-behavioral categories. Context of the Investigation Participant Joni was a native of small,rural community of about1,000 residents in a Midwestern state. When her stepfa-ther was transferred to a city in the Deep South duringJoni’s senior year of high school,she completed hersenior year in the Midwest,and then moved south to joinher family. After working for a semester,she enrolled inand received her associate’s degree from the local 2-yearcollege,after which she transferred to her state’s name-sake university where she graduated with an Englishmajor. She then immediately enrolled in a master’sdegree in English education program,which awarded hera teaching credential.In various interviews Joni discussed the kind of teacher she did and did not want to be. Good teachersfrom her past,she said,“did all different types of things. . . and let you kind of explore on your own.”She pre-ferred “teachers who take the time to read my work. . . .I like it when they respond to me and tell me what I didwrong or tell me when I did right.”In contrast,she didnot like teachers who “made it really hard.”One memo-rable teacher,she said,was “real cognitive. . . . She hadher hair in a bun,you know,real—oh,she was mean. Shewas so mean. . . . She gave out homework like crazy. Shegraded really hard.”This teacher emphasized grammarinstruction heavily; “We didn’t do that much writing inschool,”said Joni.When asked to describe what she meant by “cogni-tive,”a term she repeated several times,Joni said that itreferred to teachers who “were the really strict ones. . . .They give a lot of homework; they’re this way,they’renot going to change,go by the book,read the book,lec-ture from the book types.”Such instruction,said Joni,“really bores me.”Joni further reported that “I don’t like worksheets [or]a lot of lecturing,and I cannot lecture. . . . That’s the waymost of my [high school] teachers taught,was a lot of lecturing. . . . You took notes.”Her content-area collegeprofessors also lectured,with students “sitting there tak-ing notes for an hour. . . . Not too much group work inclass.”From her apprenticeship of observation as astudent,then,Joni stated a preference for open-endedinstruction with personal attention,which was the excep-tion to the orthodox norm. She further expressed a disdainfor student passivity,preferring instead opportunitiestoexplore topics in personal ways. She was unambiguousabout not wanting to be the sort of “cognitive bun lady”whose strict,unyielding command of the classroom leftlittle room for student inquiry. Table 1 Frequency of Each Specific Tool FoundWithin the Code Categories CodeFrequencyToolsOpen-ended teachingCollaborative learning12Differentiating instruction2Making learning fun/relevant (game review format)6Multiple intelligences7Writing—personal (journal,autobiography,poetry)12Orthodox teaching—academicAssessment (quiz/test/test review/reading16check/homework)Literary terms4Reading in class6Vocabulary11Workbook exercises2Writing—academic (essay,literary analysis,3research,summaries,discussion question answers)Writing—form (paragraphs,sentences,models)2Orthodox teaching—behavioralCharacter traits6Cultural codes19Discipline3Life skills instruction15Vocational teaching/learning a 81AttributionColleague3Cooperating teacher48Curriculum materials33Mandate4Self23Students6Teacher education course work6a. Using a computer,hearing guest speakers,interview rehearsals,reading job-oriented newspaper articles,making presentations,doingprojects,planning careers,writing résumé,writing thank you letters,and writing job applications.  at UNIV OF GEORGIA LIBRARIES on November 17, 2008 http://jte.sagepub.comDownloaded from 
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