The Work of Teaching and the Challenge for Teacher Education

Dec. 24, 2009

Source: Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 60, No. 5, p. 497-511. (November/December 2009). (Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In this article, the authors argue for making practice the core of teachers’ professional preparation.

The authors set the argument for teaching practice against the contemporary backdrop of a teacher education curriculum that is often centered not on the tasks and activities of teaching but on beliefs and knowledge, on orientations and commitments, and a policy environment preoccupied with recruitment and retention.

The authors caution that the bias against detailed professional training that often pervades common views of teaching as idiosyncratic and independently creative impedes the improvement of teachers’ preparation for the work of teaching.

The authors offer examples of what might be involved in teaching practice. The authors discuss the challenges of and resources for teaching practice.

Centering Teacher Education in Practice: Challenges and Resources

Any effort to center teacher education in and on practice would face significant challenges.

One challenge involved in centering teacher education in practice is careful deconstruction and articulation of the work of teaching with an eye toward making the most detailed elements of instruction learnable without reducing teaching practice to an atomized collection of discrete and unconnected tiny acts (Grossman & McDonald, 2008).

Another challenge is the insufficiency of the knowledge base about teaching practice. Effective professional education would prepare teachers with knowledge and skills that would enable them to engage in instruction that helps children learn. However, the field lacks a broad and deep understanding of the kinds of instructional practices that make a difference to students’ learning.

A related area of ambiguity concerns the process of schooling and the effect of different kinds of resources on students’ learning.

In conclusion, the authors argue that making practice the centerpiece of teachers’ education would elevate the professionalism of teaching and teacher education.

Grossman, P., & McDonald, M. (2008). Back to the future: Directions for research in teaching and teacher education. American Educational Research Journal, 45, 184–205.

Updated: Mar. 14, 2010