Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Core Practices and Pedagogies of Teacher Education: A Call for a Common Language and Collective Activity

Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Core Practices and Pedagogies of Teacher Education: A Call for a Common Language and Collective Activity

Article excerpt

Currently, the field of teacher education is undergoing a major shift--a turn away from a predominant focus on specifying the necessary knowledge for teaching toward specifying teaching practices that entail knowledge and doing (Cook & Brown, 1999; Grossman, Hammerness, & McDonald, 2009; Zeichner, 2012). The fundamental aim undergirding this turn is to better support teachers in learning how to use knowledge in action (Ball & Forzani, 2009, Cook & Brown, 1999; Grossman, Hammerness, et al., 2009; Lampert, 2010; Zeichner, 2012). This turn to practice has led some scholars in the field to organize the work and scholarship of teacher education around what they refer to as core practices of K-12 teaching. By highlighting specific, routine aspects of teaching that demand the exercise of professional judgment and the creation of meaningful intellectual and social community for teachers, teacher educators, and students, core practices may offer teacher educators (1) powerful tools for preparing teachers for the constant in-the-moment decision-making that the profession requires. This movement is stepping up to the challenge of better preparing novice teachers to raise the quality of disciplinary learning for students in U.S. schools and disrupt deficit perspectives of what students and teachers can accomplish. By raising the quality of disciplinary teaching, a central goal of this work is to improve the learning opportunities available to students of color, low-income students, and English language learners. The aim is to address the persistent inequities that overwhelmingly limit those students' opportunities to learn. Recently research and development projects in secondary English language arts, secondary science, and elementary mathematics have begun to put the concept of core practices into action in teacher education with the aim of improving educational opportunities for all students. These projects offer examples of teaching and learning that support high levels of student participation, value the knowledge and resources that students bring to the classroom, and that maintain high levels of academic rigor. These examples suggest teaching that could become more normative in U.S. schools (Core Practices Consortium, 2013). (2) This article examines the work of this emerging community of teacher educators, practitioners, and researchers to understand how their application of core practices may inform broader efforts to improve teaching and teacher education.

Historically, research on K-12 teaching and research on teacher education have developed independently of one another, often with research on teacher education lagging far behind (Grossman & McDonald, 2008). However, as the work to identify core practices in the disciplines suggests, forging a tighter relationship between research on teaching and the work of teacher education could help the field gain traction on a number of its perennial challenges. Bridging research and the practice of teacher education has the potential to help the field: (a) articulate a common language for specifying practice, which would facilitate the field's ability to engage in collective activity; (b) identify and specify common pedagogies in teacher education; and (c) address the perennial and persistent divides among university courses and between university course work and clinical experiences. An abundance of past reforms in teacher education (e.g., professional development schools and competency-based teacher education) act as cautionary tales for those of us engaged in leveraging core practices of teaching in the preparation of teachers. Lessons from these efforts suggest that the move toward core practices in teacher education risks becoming fad-like, resulting in a proliferation of approaches driven more by the trend than by a deep understanding of how people learn to enact ambitious professional practice. To avoid this path, we argue that the identification of K-12 core practices should be accompanied with the identification, development, and implementation of teacher education pedagogies aimed at preparing teachers with those practices. …

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