Academic journal article Journal of Catholic Education

Inspiring Teaching: Preparing Teachers to Succeed in Mission-Driven Schools

Academic journal article Journal of Catholic Education

Inspiring Teaching: Preparing Teachers to Succeed in Mission-Driven Schools

Article excerpt

Inspiring Teaching: Preparing Teachers to Succeed in Mission-Driven Schools

Sharon Feiman-Nemser, Eran Tamir, and Karen Hammerness (Eds.)

Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press

256 pages; $64.95 USD (hardcover), $31.95 USD (paperback)

ISBN: 978-1-61250-725-5 (hardcover), 978-1-61250-724-8 (paperback)

The diversity of American schools, communities, and students demands a teacher preparation system capable of preparing future teachers for such diversity. In Inspiring Teaching: Preparing Teachers to Succeed in Mission-Driven Schools, Sharon Feiman-Nemser, Eran Tamir, and Karen Hammerness present findings from the Choosing to Teach study, a comparative, longitudinal analysis of three non-traditional teacher preparation programs. The University of Chicago's Urban Teacher Education Program (UTEP), the University of Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE), and Brandeis University's Day School Leadership Through Teaching (DeLeT) prepare post-baccalaureate students to teach in urban, Catholic, and Jewish schools, respectively. The book presents a comparative approach to these unique but similarly mission-driven programs and uses the lens of "context-specific teacher education" to investigate each of these programs' approaches. As a teacher educator and ACE graduate, I found the book a strong and necessary contribution to the teacher education literature about how such programs actually work.

The first three chapters detail each program. First, Kavita Kapadia Matsko and Karen Hammerness highlight UTEP's efforts to prepare its pre-service teachers for the challenges and intricacies of working in Chicago's public schools, Christian Dallavis and Anthony Holter outline the structure of the ACE's teacher formation for urban and rural Catholic schools across the US, and Sharon Feiman-Nemser explains how DeLeT equips its teachers to integrate a professional vision of academic excellence with Jewish identity. These authors know their programs deeply, highlighting the book's and the study's strength in combining researchers from all three programs to produce interesting comparisons.

The work in the following five chapters showcases more of the study's strengths. Its innovative comparative approach, its longitudinal design following teachers in and after their time in-program, and its triangulation of many data sources are strong warrants for trustworthy findings. This is particularly true for Hammerness' chapter "Visions of Good Teaching," which uses teachers' interviews to show how the programs' broad values and visions filter down to the practices of their teachers, finding coherence between the programs' visions and their teachers'. Other chapters draw on interviews with principals who inducted these new teachers into their schools, interviews with the teachers during and after the program, and observations of teachers' classes after they left the program. The diverse data and strong qualitative presentation allow the passionate and, at times, frustrated voices of the teachers and principals themselves to advance the authors' arguments.

The book offers teacher educators different lenses on the programs' approaches. Bethamie Horowitz's chapter investigates why these teachers chose to teach in these particular programs, using the sociocultural lenses of identity and agency. Other chapters investigate how principals inducted these teachers into their schools, how post-program teachers took up their programs' teaching visions, and how the programs affected these teachers' career choices. Teacher educators will appreciate the different perspectives that illuminate the facets of these teachers' lives over the first few years of their practice.

The study's design choice to follow a sample of 10 teachers from each program has benefits and drawbacks. The focus on a small sample allows the authors to go in-depth and present rich interview data, revealing teachers' feelings, frustrations, and aspirations in a way that a quantitative study or a larger sample could not have. …

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