As cultural and linguistic diversity (CLD) in schools increases so does the demand for more qualified teachers. Enrollment declines in teacher preparation programs and national teacher shortages, particularly teachers prepared to work with CLD students, further exacerbate the situation. As teacher preparation programs seek to meet the demands for teachers, this study addresses a gap in research and practice that examines pre-service teacher (PST) reflections conducted as part of a non-credit very early field experience (EFE). The study addresses two questions:1) How does participation in EFE shape PST learning and professional identities as expressed in written reflections? 2) In what ways does participation in EFE impact PST beliefs, attitudes, and learning about cultural and linguistic diversity?

Participants in this exploratory mixed methods study were six first year pre-service teachers, engaged in early field experiences at a public university. Data in the form of written reflections was collected twice during the first semester. A qualitative content analysis coded levels of reflections as descriptive, empathic, analytic, and metacognitive (Chabon & Lee-Wilkerson, 2006), and for evidence of 4Cs P21 professional skills: creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration. A quantitative analysis explored differences in the frequency, examined relationships across reflection types and skills, and compared first and second journals. The most frequent strategies were analytic, critical thinking, and descriptive. PSTs documented creating supportive classrooms, promoting academic and linguistic success, and relationship building as relevant to their professional identities. Implications include a need to increase EFE and promote student learning through non-credit bearing opportunities and reflective writing in teacher preparation.