This study explored the lived experiences of eight pre-service teachers, specifically their understandings of teaching Common Core-aligned English language arts (ELA) and their feelings about becoming teachers of literacy amid the current era of accountability. Phenomenological methods were used to interview participants and analyze data for significant statements made by all eight pre-service teachers involved. Major themes to emerge include that pre-service teachers felt prepared to design ELA lessons but unprepared to develop an ELA curriculum; they felt the Common Core State Standards had changed everything about teaching; and they were anxious about becoming teachers during a time of great educational change. These findings can illuminate some of the tensions, successes, and challenges that pre-service teachers face, and may help teacher educators to tailor instruction to meet the needs of their students at a time when enrollment numbers in teacher education programs are at historic lows.



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