Preparing Future Teachers to Collaborate

Spring, 2012

Source: Issues in Teacher Education, Volume 21, Number 1, Spring 2012, p. 59-69.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In this article, the authors argue that teacher education programs should equip future teachers with skills for engaging in productive collaboration focused on improving instruction.
This article provides a description of pre-service teachers’ collaboration across university and school settings.

The participants were preservice teachers who enrolled to “Learning to Learn from Mathematics Teaching” course in a 5th-year post-bachelor program at a public U.S. university.
Data were collected through videotapes of two groups of these preservice teachers ,who were videotaped every time they completed a task that required them to collaboratively analyze an artifact of practice; and through two individual semi-structured interviews with 15 pre-service teachers, who were asked to characterize collaboration within their paired-fieldwork experience, describe how often they collaborated, what they collaborated about, and how the paired-fieldwork experience contributed to their ability to analyze and reflect on teaching and learning.

Discussion and Conclusions

The findings can be summarized as follows:
1. Pre-service teachers’ initial conceptions of collaboration do not necessarily match with the kind of collaboration expected of them in professional development settings such as lesson study or professional learning communities.
2. With support, pre-service teachers can learn to collaborate and find collaboration useful. Guided analysis of artifacts of teaching, such as video of classroom lessons, student work, or transcripts of teacher-student interactions can assist pre-service teachers in learning to analyze and interpret student thinking and learning and to consider instructional improvements.
3. Collaboration in fieldwork settings can further develop collaboration skills.
Pre-service teachers can begin to test out instructional improvements in their own teaching, first by revising lessons, then by incorporating improvements in the midst of teaching.

In addition, pre-service teachers can begin to use evidence of student thinking and learning to reason about teaching in a cause-effect manner.
While all pre-service teachers were able to analyze student learning and propose instructional improvements, not all were able to test out these improvements in a later lesson or while teaching.
Only a few were able to reason about teaching by considering the impact of instruction on student learning.

The authors conclude that the findings suggest that providing pre-service teachers with opportunities to engage in collaborative analysis of teaching across university and school settings contributes to the development of important collaboration dispositions and skills.
However, the findings also highlight the need for a system of support that guides pre-service teachers’ development.
If pre-service teachers were to engage in productive collaboration early on, the most sophisticated levels of collaboration could perhaps be reached by the majority of them by the end of the teacher education program.

Updated: Jul. 13, 2015