Author Biography

Dr. Bethany Silva (she/her) is a Research Assistant Professor of Education and the Director of the Community Literacy Center, the purpose of which is to create innovative literacy programs that benefit pre-service teachers, youth and families, and practicing teachers. Through practitioner inquiry, she researches the ways teaching practices and theories intersect.


This article reports on a collaboration among three teacher educators to facilitate pre-service teacher (PST)s’ equity literacy through a social-justice themed afterschool program for elementary-aged children that was embedded in PSTs’ coursework. The teacher educators engaged in practitioner inquiry (e.g., Anderson, Herr, & Nihlen, 2007; Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009), posing the question, “What happens when preservice teachers use justice-oriented children’s literature to facilitate discussions about inequity with young children?” We used inductive analysis (Miles, Huberman, & Saldaña, 2014) to observe themes across 17 PSTs’ written and videotaped reflections, collected over two semesters. Reflections pointed to a fear of the unknown and discomfort with and avoidance of difficult or uncomfortable encounters with students. PSTs’ slowly developing understandings of teaching for social justice suggest that in-course examination of potential scenarios, explicit cultivation of brave spaces (Arao & Clemens, 2013), and multiple justice-oriented experiences over time are ways we, as teacher educators, may be able to support PSTs as budding co-conspirators.