Grounded: Practicing What We Preach

Dec. 25, 2009

Source: Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 60, No. 5, p. 512-519. (November/December 2009). (Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In this article the authors examine the challenges faced by teacher educators who struggle with the emotional and intellectual distance between their work in the university setting and the K-12 classroom.

The authors propose that there is much to be gained in a model that encourages teacher education faculty to join their preservice teachers at the lab bench. The authors call this model grounded practice.

Grounded Practice: Integrating Teacher Educators on K-12 Ground

This model describes an approach whereby teacher educators not only teach university-based classes but also extend their practice to the K-12 setting, with K-12 students. This model provides the opportunity for renewed connections with the context for which teacher educators prepare their students.

The authors consider the benefits of having teacher educators find ways to teach children and youth in K-12 contexts as part of their role as teacher educators-how living and working across both contexts can help revitalize a teacher educator's identity as well as improve the quality of his or her practice with preservice teachers.

Finally, the authors suggest several models that provide teacher educators with the opportunity to work in both contexts.

Models of Staying Connected and Implications for Policy

Grounded practice for teacher educators could take a multitude of shapes, and we suspect that many of our colleagues have experimented with various forms as well. The possibilities for such grounded practice are many, but some of the most straightforward models might include the following:
• Teaching in a K-12 school: teaching or coteaching a class with a full-time K-12 educator.
This could also be done in conjunction with student teachers.
• Teaching K-12 students at the university: developing a course or a program offered in the university setting (in traditional classrooms, or museums, libraries, labs, or other special locales) to K-12 students.
• Teaching in an extracurricular program: working with K-12 students in an educational context outside of formal schooling.
• Back-to-school immersion: using a sabbatical to teach full-time in a K-12 setting.
• Developing summer school or inter-term programs: These could also be cotaught by teacher educators and their students.

The authors hope that grounded practice could be seen as a legitimate, central commitment, one that benefits not only the teacher educator but his or her students and the profession as well.

Updated: Mar. 14, 2010