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Gazing in the mirror: reflections on educating preservice teachers for collaborative work with indigenous communites Fulton, Carol Lynne

Abstract

This dissertation portrays the life of one teacher educator who is concerned that the teacher education institution where she works is failing to prepare teachers who can work collaboratively and respectfully in/with First Nations and Métis communities in her province. As part of the institution and the dominant group in society that has helped to perpetuate inequities and injustices, she recognizes she is therefore complicit in this failure. This realization has led to a self-study, an autoethnography, within the context of her institution where she attempts to understand why the focus on teaching for social justice, which has been a vision of many of her colleagues for several years, has had little influence on prospective teachers. She asks, “What are the possibilities for improving the preparation of preservice teachers to work with indigenous communities in respectful, supportive, and collaborative ways?” A series of simple stories illustrates the complexity of the questions. The stories also illustrate how her understanding of the questions and the tangled issues that emerge from the study shifts through iterations of returning to the questions. Rather than trying to disentangle the issues, the study attempts to view the issues through a lens that can provide a holistic rendering of the data. Using the lens of complexity science, the study illustrates how the teacher educator, the people with whom she works, the institution, and the community schools she visited are complex adaptive systems. Each has the potential to be transformed through enhancing patterns of interaction or to replicate the status quo through inhibiting patterns. Examples of enhancing and inhibiting patterns of interaction are identified as well as suggestions for opening up possibilities for change and transformation. The study demonstrates that there are no simple solutions to solving some of the problems schools and communities face. The teacher educator comes to understand that if she expects her student teachers to become respectful, collaborative participants in the creation of socially just and equitable communities, she must model those patterns of behaviour herself. She therefore invites others to join her in the dance of co-creating a “shared and harmonious future”.

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