Academic journal article Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue

The Teacher Work Sample and 21st Century Learning

Academic journal article Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue

The Teacher Work Sample and 21st Century Learning

Article excerpt

The reauthorization of Elementary and Secondary Education Act into what became known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB, 2002) has created a focused lens on the entire education landscape in the United States. Some aspects of the legislation involved student accountability as measured by high stakes tests with additional high quality teacher accountability measures defined by states. At times, this scrutiny positioned teachers as political footballs kicked in blame for all things bad educationally. Following this lead, Colleges of Education became the scapegoats (Ravitch, 2011) for all that is wrong with the teaching force. For teacher preparation programs, state reauthorization requirements resembled the strict, linear standards for content that schools were held to, but the measures of accountability within preservice programs stayed below the radar in many ways.

While there is no nationally required measure of accountability for teacher preparation programs unless memberships in national associations like the National Council Accreditation of Teachers Accreditation are involved, there are common practices that are exemplified across the field. Many of these practices, in their current form, demonstrate an ideology and mindset that sees teachers and teacher preparation programs as support for "enthusiastic amateurs" (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012, p. 47) as opposed to professional educators. However, as teachers and colleges of education move out of the fog of NCLB ideology, the movement toward 21st century learning and its manifestation in Common Core State Standards stands at the forefront of teacher preparation programs' revision. Instead of simply documenting the success of the talented few (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012), teacher preparation programs must build upon the "professional capital" (p. 2) requirements of a field that sits at the crossroads of educational reform. Teacher preparation programs must develop teacher capabilities that do not reflect the linear activity-based approach of NCLB, but instead support educators with high levels of human, social, and decisional capital.

From this theoretical stance, one university-based teacher preparation program began to rethink all aspects of its program: from the theoretical framework that defined coursework and assignments to the nomenclature of the students in the field. Through this process, it became clear that the accountability tool traditionally used, the Teacher Work Sample (TWS) needed to be included in this rethinking process. This paper looks at the process of revision conducted on a university-based teacher education program's TWS.

REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

In an already overcrowded curriculum, articulating what to deemphasize and why in order to make room for deep mastery of core 21st century skills is a challenge for teacher preparation programs. The literature on 21st century skills runs the gamut from frameworks of core subject and themes to be emphasized to specific learning goals and objectives that move beyond content standards. What these descriptions have in common is the mission to better prepare students for the needs of the 21st century world (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 1999; Gardner, 2008; Trilling & Fadel, 2009; U.S. Department of Labor, 1992) in ways that current content specific standards do not. Gardner's (2008) work around the Five Minds for the Future offers a synthesis of this thinking. Summarized, these traits include: individuals who are experts in at least one area; can operate as synthesizers who can gather together disparate sources of information, work with them and communicate them; have both the ability to create a box and then think outside that box; can work with and respect those who are different from themselves; and finally, act ethically at all times. Gardner defines these minds for the future as the "disciplined mind, the synthesizing mind, the creating mind, the respectful mind, and the ethical mind" (p. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.