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Talk about children: Developing a living curriculum of advocacy and social justice.

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... Lastly, the resilient professional is one who recognizes that a pre-K teacher's job is never done and requires continuous professional development. The example of Ms. Wallace's teaching embodies Fennimore's (2008) point that "when a language of respect for the hope and resiliency of children is supported by an abiding personal and professional commitment to fairness and equal opportunities, every early childhood educator can enact a living curriculum of advocacy for children" (p. 185). ...
... In all, Ms. Hoff's goal as a pre-K teacher is to create situations in her classroom where children become aware of each other's cultural values. Using Fennimore's (2008) argument, her "purposeful intent to design a language of hope and curriculum for children ultimately becomes a personal curriculum of social justice in the early childhood classroom" (p. 193). ...
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The landscape of publicly funded early education in the U.S. has changed significantly. For instance, policy makers have increased access to such programs as prekindergarten, and at the same time, required these programs to align their goals and practices with those found in K–12 education systems. Other changes include increased cultural and linguistic diversity among children attending these programs. Such transformations have created new challenges for early educators as they strive to meet their children's developmental, individual, and cultural needs. This in turn has affected the field of early childhood teacher education. Teacher educators are trying to address these issues by providing their students with meaningful coursework and field experiences, but putting such components in place can be difficult. This article addresses this issue by developing a case study of how three exemplar pre-K teachers met these challenges in teaching a diverse population of children in a high-stakes context. Through using the lenses of developmentally appropriate and culturally relevant instructional practices, the study presented in this piece provides illustrations that teacher educators can use with their students to discuss what they can do to be early educators in a high-stakes contexts who focus on children's needs.
... The concerns brought forth about these employees were related to the full-time staff's perception of their ability to care for children. The administration and full-time teaching staff took up the deficit discourse that negatively affects under-represented children and families, and applied it to the personal and professional lives of these seven employees, who are also members of marginalized groups (Fennimore, 2008;Swadener and Lubeck, 1995). ...
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Quality professional development for a diverse early education and care workforce has been a priority in policy reform agendas. This issue points to the need to address quality professional development for this particular workforce, across varied childcare settings, which takes into consideration the complex experiences and intersecting social positions of these individuals. This colloquium reports on a case study of part-time childcare staff’s experiences as the researcher implemented an on-site professional development program at an area childcare center. Post-structural perspectives and Black feminist thought were utilized as epistemological and analytical tools to highlight how power discourse and the intersecting subject positions (gender, race, and dis/ability) of particular participants influenced both the implementation of and access to quality professional development within the given context.
... Research demonstrates that teachers hold considerable power in shaping how young immigrant children are perceived by classmates. To this end, some strategies include providing opportunities for play that is culturally relevant to newcomer children (Trawick-Smith, 2010), using critical incidents in play episodes in class discussions (Earick, 2010), engaging in ethical analysis of the issues children are facing (Fennimore, 2007), focusing on themes with social justice and fairness (Boutte, 2008), and reflecting on their own communication and dispositions with diverse families (Barrera & Kramer, 2007). One interesting pedagogical tool is having immigrant children reproduce life narratives that help them examine their recent experiences and concepts important in their cultural and family contexts, such as love, reciprocity, interdependence, altruism, and gratitude for care (Luttrell, 2013). ...
Article
This paper examines the issues surrounding low-income immigrants in the U.S. and the ways they shape the educational experiences of their young children. Using a multidisciplinary lens including sociology, family studies, education, and mental health, the authors analyse multiple perspectives towards the educational experiences of children in low-income immigrant families. After providing a sample case study focusing on the educational experiences of Burmese refugee parents with early elementary education (Grades K through 3) in the Midwestern United States, the authors frame desirable responses from policy and practice that would best support the educational experiences of young children in low-income immigrant families including (a) understanding cultural strengths, (b) creating a positive and inclusive classroom environment, (c) supporting bilingual and bicultural competencies, (d) providing immigrant families with leadership opportunities, (e) teacher professional development on mental health and poverty, and (f) building integrated supports for the family.
... The discursive spaces that exist when words fall short become filled with assumptions; these form into conventional thinking about typical adult/child behaviour, growth, development, power, agency, and can fuel intersubjective stereotyping (DeMulder,Stribling, & Day, 2014;Fennimore, 2008). While critical pedagogy investigations can begin to encourage 'practicing teachers to rethink and re-vision oppressive hegemonic structures and attitudes ' (DeMulder et al., 2014, p. 44) the desires, imaginings and curiosities about life that adults and children might have, and the possibilities for fantasizing on that living, can still be obscured if discursive spaces exist. ...
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Communications between adults and young children can expose different ideas and opinions. Adults and children have different capacities to speak, these discursive spaces can become filled with assumptions, stereotyping and conventional thinking about power and agency. If communication shifts away from the purely discursive, what might be exposed about the explorations, investigations and fantasies adults and children indulge in? Some time ago my young daughter obsessively drew hybrid beings. Created from mixtures of animal, object, human and creature forms, these beings, which are ‘not-quite’, are becoming, able to transform via myriad mutations. We agreed to collaborate and draw additional hybrid beings to experiment with becoming-other through complex entanglements of forms, to complicate, morph and (trans)form from our human selves to hybrid others. The ‘not-quite-ness’ of our monstrous hybrids subvert the conventions of ‘being’ and prompt contemplations about childhood subjectivities, identities, conventionalities and actively interrogate the assumptive knowledges and subjectifications that are held about young children in early childhood professional and academic systems.
... As such, culturally responsive anti-biased teachers recognize these aspects of inequalities and their impact to learning. Furthermore, Fennimore (2008) stated that "every educator of children must continually reflect upon, honesty recognize, and seek to change bias that may have assimilated into personal belief systems during childhood and adolescence" (p. 194). ...
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The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine pre-service teachers' perceptions of a culturally responsive, anti-bias curriculum. Additionally, this study explored how the use of culturally responsive course work influenced the participating pre-service teachers' perceptions. Responses to both pre and post-teaching open ended questions, weekly reflective writings, evaluation of a children's books, and notes from the researcher's observation were analyzed qualitatively. Pre-teaching data showed that pre-service teachers had a rather superficial understanding of an anti-bias curriculum. However, post-teaching data showed that after experiencing culturally responsive curricula, pre-service teachers not only developed a better understanding of anti-bias curriculum, but they also gained essential self-awareness in diversity contexts.
... While being guided through the parentechildeteacher study, preservice teachers examine language structures that they use and that they commonly hear in practice about parents and children for negative talk (Fennimore, 2008). Underlying assumptions and unchallenged beliefs about poor families, single parents, and ethnically diverse parents often structures the thinking of preservice teachers. ...
... While being guided through the parentechildeteacher study, preservice teachers examine language structures that they use and that they commonly hear in practice about parents and children for negative talk (Fennimore, 2008). Underlying assumptions and unchallenged beliefs about poor families, single parents, and ethnically diverse parents often structures the thinking of preservice teachers. ...
Article
The article provides a rationale and description of a constructivist parent–teacher approach used to support preservice teachers’ understandings of relationships between home and school. Using a critical theoretical framing of policy, social science, and enacted curriculum, the authors ask readers to consider moving away from proscribed models of home–school relationships to a partnering lens which allows teachers to view their initial communications as a crucial teacher-learning endeavor. With this approach, preservice teachers are constructing their understanding of parents’ views of children, uncovering resources and parents ideals, and empowering themselves to deconstruct/reconstruct images of families in a more just framework.
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The public education system in the United States continues to struggle in educating children of diverse backgrounds. Many have addressed this issue by documenting how certain practices teach children particular types of knowledge and skills. This developmental focus on what should be happening to children of diverse backgrounds tends to ignore the complexities of the communities in which they live, and by doing so, it can perpetuate the status quo. To address this issue, this article examined a professional development course within a large urban school district for preKindergarten and Kindergarten teachers. In the course, the teachers were asked to reconceptualize their pedagogical practices with their students and engage in learning activities in their classrooms that attended to the children’s sociocultural worlds. Analyzing the experiences of a sample of participants who participated in this course provides insight into how teacher educators can assist practicing and preservice teachers address the opportunities and challenges that exist when teaching children of diverse backgrounds through culturally relevant practices that prepare them for success in their high-stakes schooling environments and local communities.
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Policymakers’ demands for standardization and improved student achievement increasingly define what early childhood educators working in publicly funded programs teach. Doing so has made it difficult for educators to engage in practices with children that incorporate their sociocultural worlds into their instruction. To begin to address this challenge, this article examines the experiences of one pre-kindergarten teacher who participated in a professional development course that asked her and her colleagues to implement culturally relevant lessons with their students in their high-stakes urban teaching context. She took up this challenge by examining the issue of parental incarceration with her culturally and linguistically talented students. Analyzing her and her students’ experiences in this investigation provides insight into how early educators can begin to address their students’ sociocultural worlds through culturally relevant pedagogical practices within their standardized teaching contexts.
Chapter
For decades, many immigrant children entering American classrooms were renamed, a phenomenon that continues to occur through situated practices enacted by both educators and family members. While there are positive motivations for renaming, such practices are often motivated by institutional discourses that frame immigrants in deficit terms. By embracing these institutional discourses—difference as deficit, or the need to be Americanized in order to succeed—families and children are being colonized. To break away from such colonization, this chapter proposes critical practices catapulted by the reading and discussion of children’s books featuring renaming (and other relevant) phenomenon through realistic fiction representing practices within and across cultural groups throughout the country. Through the critical cycle, teachers, families, and child advocates can engage in appropriating these negative and marginalizing institutional discourses by problematizing and deconstructing traditional definitions of success in school, normalcy, and naming. By engaging in such transformative practices as the critical cycle, educators can challenge discourses and practices which position immigrant children and families in negative ways and move toward transformative possibilities.
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