Individual and structural orientations in socially just teaching: conceptualization, implementation, and collaborative effort

This essay, drawn from theory, research, and the author’s practitioner research as a teacher educator, proposes a framework to inform teacher educators’ conceptualization and implementation of socially just teaching. The framework suggests that building on dispositions of fairness and the belief that all children can learn, a socially just teacher will engage in professional reflection and judgment using both an individual and a structural orientation to analyze the students’ academic difficulties and determine the cause and the solution to those difficulties, realizing that both individual and structural realities affect students’ learning. The essay then suggests how this individual and structural framework can inform the content and teaching strategies teacher educators use to instruct preservice teachers in socially just education. Finally, recommendations for research and dialogue in the teacher education community are suggested.