Preparing high achieving English teachers to work in disadvantaged schools : 'I'll teach Shakespeare when I'm 60'
Lampert, Jo, Burnett, Bruce M., & Davie, Sue (2012) Preparing high achieving English teachers to work in disadvantaged schools : 'I'll teach Shakespeare when I'm 60'. English in Australia, 47(3), pp. 69-77.
The recent release of the Gonski Review recognises the decline in Australia’s schooling performances over the last decade, noting in particular a distressing increase in the ‘achievement gap’ affecting students from low SES backgrounds (Gonski, 2012). The report details the need for more quality in teachers throughout the schooling system, particularly within the schools with the greatest academic needs.
This paper specifically focuses on a group of high-achieving pre-service English teachers. In their last two years of university study, they participated in a program called Exceptional Teachers for Disadvantaged Schools (ETDS), designed to prepare them to work in disadvantaged or low SES schools. We wanted to capture their experiences of teaching in challenging settings during their practicum, and as they prepared to graduate, we wondered what they now felt about teaching English in low SES schools. Using narrative inquiry, we analysed a range of reflective data to gain insight into such things as their initial motivations for entering the teaching profession and how their preconceived expectations may or may not have shifted after practicum experiences in low SES schools. We encouraged open reflection about how they perceived themselves as English teachers.
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