I am the Director of Educational Research and Evaluation at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. At the museum, I am responsible for developing a program of research in science teaching and learning in education. As part of that work, I currently am a co-PI with colleagues, of two NSF-funded research studies, one that follows the trajectories of high-interest, low-resourced NYC youth who have been mentored in an immersive science research program (across 17 different informal science institutions in the city); and the other, that examines the development of an Next Generation Science Standards middle school ecology curriculum, and professional development experiences for teachers.
I began my research on teaching as a doctoral student at the Stanford University School of Education with a focus upon individual teachers’ visions. My dissertation explored the relationship between teachers’ images of ideal classroom practice and their beliefs about children, communities and their own careers, and is elaborated in my book, Seeing through teachers’ eyes: Professional ideals and classroom practices (Teachers College Press, 2006). Since then, my work has expanded to a broader focus upon teacher education program design and pedagogy and has included examining a variety of teacher education programs from urban residency programs; college or university-based programs, as well as programs that do not easily fit within such categories.
As part of that work, I participated in the New York City pathways project, which reinforced the importance of ensuring that vision is grounded in real classrooms, and the value of helping teachers develop a repertoire of powerful core teaching practices. In turn, my current work on the Choosing to Teach project has also made clear that in addition to program vision, and opportunities to enact teaching practice, we also need to prepare teachers for particular kinds of contexts.
My work on vision, practice and context has become even more connected in my recent work. For instance, in the MAT program at Bard College last year, I developed a year-long course focused upon helping new teachers grow their understanding about their teaching context(s), with my colleague BC Craig. Our aim was to help our pre-service student-teachers not only develop and maintain a powerful vision of teaching, but also to gain a set of concrete teaching practices that can be used to inform and adjust their classroom teaching to their particular context.
In turn, building on my work on vision, coherence, and practice, I am now conducting research on teacher education programs internationally. With Kirsti Klette, a colleague at the University of Oslo, I am the co-principal investigator of CATE, a four-year research project examining the nature of teacher education classroom practice in eight programs across five countries (Chile, Cuba, Finland, Norway and the U.S.), and I am co-authoring a case study of the policy contexts of teaching in Finland, along with Pasi Sahlberg and Raisa Aitiainen.
Photo by Alison Sheehy.