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ERIC Number: EJ1143355
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: EISSN-1946-7109
Cultural Brokers and Student Teachers: A Partnership We Need for Teacher Education in Urban Schools
Lane, Paula J.
Penn GSE Perspectives on Urban Education, v13 n2 Win 2016-2017
Paula Lane, who has supervised student teachers at a university in the suburban wine country of northern California for the past 12 years, describes a field experience with a group of new student teachers in an urban school. Like the majority of teacher candidates in education programs, the pre-service teacher education students were White and middle-class (Feistritzer, 2011). The students at the elementary school of the proposed field site placement was composed of 98% students of color in a city that was 34.5% White, according to the 2010 census. 100% of the students qualified for free or reduced lunch. The neighborhood was semi-industrial replete with barred windows, gated doors, and abandoned properties. There was no bank, supermarket, or coffee shop for miles. The city has a reputation for poverty, violence, and gangs. It was clear from her initial meeting with the prospective student teachers that one challenge Lane would face as a supervisor would be to overcome their anxiety regarding the city in which they would be placed. Early on the student teachers complained that the students were "defiant" and "disrespectful." Recognizing that her own experience as a supervisor seemed insufficient to weave her student teachers' experiences into teachable moments, Lane, turned to mentor teachers within the school for help. One teacher in the school became their cultural broker and transformed the student teachers' perceptions by bringing the student teachers into the school as she viewed it. This article defines and explains the role of the cultural broker in teacher education as a mentor teacher who has decided it is her job, duty, to illuminate practices to those who are outsiders coming into a school as these student teachers were. Though bridging the divide between any student teacher's experiences and those of their students can be tricky, and may involve many other teachers, peers, and even coursework, the cultural broker is a true guide through what incoming student teachers often cannot know about individual students or circumstances at a school. Evidence indicates that nationally and state accredited credential program successfully provides pedagogical support to teacher candidates in the field, but the cultural broker provides something more. Not every mentor teacher is a broker--some are too new to the school; some are too busy. Sometimes however, there is an insider willing to share insights. A broker knows things a supervisor might not, especially if the supervisor is from a university miles away. In teacher education programs, supervisors often have backgrounds similar to the student teachers they supervise, which positions the whole group as outsiders. Finding a broker to bridge local knowledge with university coursework is indispensable. Lane writes that her capacity to nurture student teachers was greatly facilitated by her experience working with a cultural broker.
University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education. 3700 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A