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Making up teachers: Pre-kindergarten policy and teachers’ lived experiences

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Willinski, B.
Publication Date: 
9 Apr 2022

Excerpted from abstract: 

Increased investment in publicly-funded pre-kindergarten (pre-K) in the USA has come with a concomitant focus on teacher professionalization. Pre-K policies and professionalization efforts often fail to acknowledge that they are layered upon a history of previous policies. New policies are inscribed onto this “discursive archive.” The intersection of a new policy and this discursive archive, viewed through the lived experiences of two pre-K teachers, is the focus of this article. Using critical policy analysis as a framework, I interrogate how a new pre-K policy in Lakeville, Wisconsin, “made up” the pre-K professional in particular ways. Lakeville’s policy came with a new conceptualization of the pre-K professional, framed in terms of particular credentials, pedagogies, and ways of being with children. I explore how this view of the pre-K professional made up two pre-K teachers by shaping their professional and material realities. The use of critical policy scholarship, which recognizes that policy is “permeated with power,” provides a way to understand Lakeville’s pre-K policy as more than an intervention into practice. Instead, it shaped teachers’ subjectivities by creating new norms and boundaries around how teachers were to be and act as pre-K professionals, which they took or resisted in particular ways.