Teacher Education for the Schools We Need

Dec. 24, 2009

Source: Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 60, No. 5, p. 489-496. (November/December 2009). (Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In this article, the authors discuss three trends that are reshaping our world and the ways we get work done. The authors then discuss the implications of these trends, both for how we educate our young and how we train and develop our teachers. The authors assume that there is a reciprocal relationship between teacher education and school reform, insisting that if teacher education is to play a role in changing schools, it must itself change.

Research Questions

In particular, the authors address three questions:
• What are the proper aims and structural characteristics of schools in the emerging world?
• What characteristics must such schools exhibit if they are to serve as clinical sites for teacher preparation and professional development?
• What is the look and feel of teacher education situated wholly in K-12 environments?

To that end, the authors propose an approach to teacher training and professional development situated entirely in K-12 schools. The authors outline design principles for such an approach. The authors illustrated with examples from the High Tech High Graduate School of Education at the High Tech High (HTH) schools in San Diego.

Elements of Contextualized Teacher Education: A Hybrid Approach

The authors discuss three principles for this approach.

Adult Learning Community
A graduate school of education embedded in K-12 schools binds all adults in the school setting in a coherent, cohesive adult learning community. It creates a rich variety of learning contexts for new and veteran teachers across the setting.

Symmetry of Practice
If we want students to be solving real problems, creating beautiful work, and engaging and contributing to the world beyond schools, we need to train and support teachers to do the same.

Teacher as Designer
In hybrid contexts that explicitly link teacher education and school reform, teachers are regarded not as mere implementers of curriculum but as designers of learning opportunities and environments. They are encouraged to identify and pursue questions emerging from their practice. They are given opportunities to design and propose potential solutions. And they are taught how to provide these same opportunities to their own students so that they too learn how to identify and solve authentic problems, design solutions, and view themselves as active producers of knowledge.

In any case, the authors maintain that policy makers and educators need to attend to the interface between school reform and teacher education. The authors argue that the logical approach to revitalizing teacher education is to situate schools of education within local K-12 environments that have an explicit reform agenda and that are already engaged in the important work of changing how we think about teaching and learning.

Updated: Mar. 14, 2010