In this paper we present two case studies based on an analysis of interviews conducted during their participation in two distinct field placement experiences. The case studies illustrate how personal beliefs about instruction, contrasting field placements, and opportunities for reflection on those experiences influenced the thinking of the two elementary education students. The case studies highlight the difficulties pre-service teachers face in recognizing biases and misconceptions they have about children with whom they do not share a culture. In addition, the studies provide direction for thinking more clearly about the opportunities that can be fostered by community field placements. These community field placements could help pre-service teachers and other educators to confront and adjust assumptions regarding (a) learning and knowledge in non-school contexts, and (b) the abilities of children from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Finally, the studies challenge and modify assumptions regarding appropriate classroom roles for teachers and students.