Learning from students before managing classroom. Using email to connect secondary students and pre-services teachers

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Alison Cook-Sather


This article presents a case study of a project through which secondary certification candidates who attend two selective, liberal arts colleges in the northeastern United States participate in a semester-long email exchange with high school students who attend local secondary schools. This exchange, which takes place before the certification candidates undertake student teaching, has a number of outcomes. According to the pre-service teachers and secondary students who participate in the project, the email exchange: (1) creates links outside of regular space, time, and relationships within which individualized communication can take place; (2) affects, in positive and negative ways, the kind of communication participants have; (3) facilitates careful analysis and reflection; (4) gives participants insight into others’ perspectives; and (5) constitutes a record of the dialogues. Because the email exchange creates a kind of liminal space - an inbetween space and time, in which neither the teachers-to-be nor the students are in their usual roles - the participants in this project can try on new ways of being, develop new ways of interacting, and experiment with whom they are trying to become.

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