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Pre-service teachers in an international teaching practicum: (Im)possibilities, interstitiality, and encounters with difference

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
Student demographics in BC show the rapid increase in the diversity of the student population. Furthermore, increasing enrollment of international students at the elementary and secondary schools adds to the changes in student population. The intercultural relations between teachers and students are critical to the learning process in the classroom. However, the increasing changes in the demographics of the student population in the classroom while the teachers are socialized in the dominant Canadian culture complicates and challenges teachers' capacities to relate to students. In teacher education, attending to cultural difference is a significant consideration. Many Canadian teacher education programs have adopted a study abroad experience, such as a teaching practicum in a different cultural context, to support pre-service teachers develop global, intercultural and international competencies. The existing study abroad (SA) literature highlighting international practicum experiences for pre-service teachers (PSTs) is sparse in terms of theorizing the complex intercultural dynamics and the notion of difference. This dissertation examines the experiences of PSTs in an international teaching practicum in the Global South, including: how these experiences inform PST's understandings of teaching and learning, cultural difference, their practices during their certifying practicum in BC schools, and how these experiences might inform teacher educators' curriculum and pedagogy in international teaching practica. The theoretical framework is drawn from Canadian curriculum studies scholar Ted Aoki's work on going beyond a dualistic and instrumental approach to study abroad, post-colonial scholar Homi Bhabha's seminal work on interstitial space, David Applebaum's work on stop moments and David Geoffrey Smith's hermeneutical notion of a 'pedagogy of the Now.' A qualitative inquiry methodology is employed, with an instrumental case study research strategy. Data were collected through semi-structured in-depth interviews conducted with 11 participants during their pre-departure preparation, post-international experience, and after their BC certifying practicum. The data demonstrate how PSTs had limited backgrounds with cultural experiences prior to embarking on their journey abroad. Despite this constraint, the prospective teachers point to how subjective and relational (im)possibilities may serve as (inter)cultural learning as a way to broaden who they become as teachers. The findings illustrate some pre-service teachers' experiences of embracing the tensioned discomfort to become more flexible and adaptable, to realize the significance of supportive relationships, and to accept ambiguity as a mode of being. Some preservice teachers did not experience interstitiality and held onto their confined ways of being in cultural difference. The (im)possibilities in the international practicum point to the tenuous nature of (inter)cultural learning as inspirited discomfort.
254 pages.
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Thesis advisor: Beck, Kumari
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