"Performing goofiness" in teacher education for emergent bilingual students

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This chapter explores an approach to instruction in pre-service classes called "goofiness pedagogy." Embedded in teaching and learning theories, goofiness pedagogy is designed to model creative teaching to help emergent bilingual learners academically, linguistically, and socially. Currently in Arizona, highly restrictive language policies limit curricular and pedagogical choices for students acquiring English. As a result, pre-service teachers are often reluctant to work with them, and worried that their own creativity will be constrained. This chapter thus discusses a multi-year study of goofiness pedagogy - theatrical drama, play, and performance - that helps pre-service teachers develop an alternative vision of exceptional teaching for and with emergent bilingual learners. Data sources include student and author reflections on the practice of performed goofiness in Structured English Immersion classes at the University of Arizona, video-taped performances of students engaged in drama and improvisation, and analysis of student written artifacts. Findings indicate that while some pre-teachers hesitate to participate in "performed goofiness," the majority believe that theatrical activities encourage them to try out innovative teaching strategies, take risks, make mistakes, and analyze those mistakes in a supportive community of practice. Equally important, pre-service teachers begin to understand that learning in general, and language learning in particular, are social pursuits and that teachers should create social spaces in their own classrooms to support the academic and language development of emergent bilingual students. Goofiness pedagogy also has transformed the author's own teaching practices, and consequently represents a "pedagogy of hope" within a rigid state context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)287-312
Number of pages26
JournalAdvances in Research on Teaching
StatePublished - 2014


  • Drama in teaching
  • Performed goofiness
  • Pre-service teachers
  • Restrictive language policies
  • Teacher risk-taking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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