Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Teacher Preparation for Quality Teaching

Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Teacher Preparation for Quality Teaching

Article excerpt

Teaching is a complex and multidimensional process that requires deep knowledge and understanding in a wide range of areas and the ability to synthesize, integrate, and apply this knowledge in different situations, under varying conditions, and with a wide diversity of groups and individuals. In quality teaching, this knowledge is applied in ways that provide equitable access and opportunities that build upon and extend what learners already know in facilitating the ability to acquire, construct, and create new knowledge. Access to quality teaching is unequally distributed among public schools in different contexts and that serve different populations of students. The percentage of students underserved and who underperform across the nation increases as student diversity increases (Zhou, 2003).

Over the past two decades there has been a great deal of focus on reform in teacher preparation aimed at improving learning outcomes for students in PK-12 schools. The discussions and recommendations for reform have presented different perspectives on the process of learning to teach, the knowledge base for teaching, and the routines and practices of classroom teaching. The present discussion presents a perspective on a holistic practice-based process for learning to teach that is at the core a mirror image of the practice of quality teaching in PK-12 schools. This holistic practice-based approach integrates academic knowledge of theory, pedagogy, and curriculum across experiences in authentic contexts that are embedded in focused inquiry, directed observation, and guided practice. In this approach, candidates learn to use academic knowledge to interpret and translate knowledge from their observations in classrooms and communities into pedagogical practices that meet the standards of integrity and trustworthiness for accomplishing the desired outcomes for particular learners (see Figure 1).

Conventional preservice teacher preparation programs have been criticized for being too often characterized by fragmentation, weak pedagogy, and a lack of articulation among courses and between courses and field experiences, as well as for the absence of a set of organizing themes, shared standards, and clear goals (Feiman-Nemser, 2001; Zeichner, 2006). The standards set in the program accreditation process have been helpful, but this has not alleviated these problems; nor has the emergence of alternative routes to teacher certification and licensure (Zeichner, 2006). It is important for teacher preparation programs to meet the minimum standards set by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education, but more is needed to prepare candidates for quality teaching. There needs to be a clearly delineated process for learning to teach and a standard for quality teaching, both of which are incorporated into the holistic practice-based approach that is the subject of this discussion.

This holistic practice-based approach for learning to teach subsumes the standards set by professional organizations such as the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC), and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS); and the work of many scholars including Cochran-Smith and Zeichner (2005), Darling-Hammond (2006), Darling-Hammond and Bransford (2005), Feiman-Nemser (2001), Villegas and Lucas (2002), and Weiner (2006). NCATE and INTASC have provided the standards for determining the quality of existing preservice teacher preparation, whereas NBPTS has sought to raise the standards for professional practice through advanced certification. These and other researchers and scholars have identified the central tasks of teacher preparation, essential knowledge and dispositions for beginning teachers, promising programs and practices for preservice teacher preparation, and recommendations for improving preservice teacher preparation. …

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