Navigating the River: Preservice Teachers Negotiate Constructive Guidance

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Tech

Preservice teachers engaging in practicum experiences often express anxiety and uncertainty related to providing discipline and classroom management. This uncertainty seems to increase when the classroom environment, in which they are student teaching, functions in ways that are unfamiliar to them. For most student teachers, the Virginia Tech Child Development Lab School is an unfamiliar environment. The Lab School provides developmentally appropriate opportunities for young children based on a social constructivist, Reggio-inspired, inquiry-based philosophy. The Lab School values constructive guidance as a means of helping young children learn how to regulate their emotions, act in socially-acceptable ways, and become a caring classroom community. This study explores how preservice teachers make sense of and implement constructive guidance strategies within the Maroon Room at the Lab School. Specifically, this study explores the experiences and perceptions of eight undergraduate students who were junior child development majors focusing on early childhood education.

Results indicate that although these student teachers had prior coursework in constructive guidance, many felt ill-prepared and uncertain as they entered the Maroon Room. They had difficulty seeing order within the Maroon Room, a classroom of fourteen four- and five-year old children. Through careful observation of the children, their fellow student teachers, and the Head and Supervising Teacher, the student teachers adjusted to the classroom. Regular, on-going conversations about the classroom, the children, and their own dilemmas and uncertainties also assisted in the student teachers negotiation of constructive guidance. Through developing an understanding of and relationships with the children, the student teachers were able to constructively guide the children s development, individually and as a group. Some of the student teachers remained uncertain about their ability to implement some of these strategies in an elementary school classroom. However, most of the student teachers expressed an increased value for and confidence in using the constructive guidance methods used at the Lab School. I offer suggestions for easing future student teachers transition from learning about constructive guidance theoretically to becoming skilled at using constructive guidance. I, further, offer additional ideas of how teacher educators could support student teachers negotiation of constructive guidance.

classroom management, discipline, constructive guidance, preservice teachers