This ongoing comparative study examines the visions, degree of coherence, and opportunities to enact practice in ten different teacher education programs (in Chile, Cuba, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the United States). This project represents an opportunity to study how programs help prospective teachers of mathematics and language arts connect theory with practice in those very different contexts. Two of the key research questions are: To what degree do prospective teachers have opportunities to learn that are grounded in practice?; and, In what ways do prospective teachers have opportunities to relate theory with real classroom practice? In order to do this work, we developed a set of instruments including an observation tool for use in teacher education classes that focuses on the nature of opportunities to learn in practice. This study is funded by a grant from the Norwegian Research Council.
In this longitudinal research project, (together with a number of colleagues including Sharon Feiman-Nemser, Eran Tamir, and Kavita Matsko) we examine what we term “context-specific” teacher preparation programs. This research, examining programs that prepare teachers for particular contexts such as the Chicago Public Schools, urban Catholic schools, and Jewish day schools, has led us to articulate the goals, pedagogies and effects of these targeted programs. In particular, we have developed a conceptual framework for thinking about how one prepares teachers for the particularities and unique features of different contexts. Our book Inspiring Teaching: Preparing Teachers to Succeed in Mission-Driven Schools will be published this Fall, 2014, by Harvard Education Press, shares what we learned about the nature of powerful and “context-specific” teacher preparation.
Preparing Teachers for these Times: Context-Specific Preparation for New York City
Building upon the conception of “context-specific” teacher preparation that emerged out of the Choosing to Teach study, this four-year study examines what new teachers learn in the Bard urban residency program about the contexts of teaching in New York City; and in turn, conceptualizes what might they need to know about the context of New York City in order to be successful. This research has led to a new, experimental course co-taught with BC Craig of the Bard MAT which we offered during the 2013-2014 year called “The Contexts of Teaching in New York City,” which is intended to help new teachers develop the skills and practices of learning about the nested contexts of New York City teaching (from school; to community; to district; to state and federal). Our course blog can be viewed at: http://contextsofteaching.wordpress.com/about/. Publications based upon this work have been presented at AERA in 2012 and 2013; and will appear in an upcoming issue of Urban Education.
Case Study of Finland’s Policy Context for Teaching
This case study is sponsored by the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and funded by the National Center on Education and the Economy. The case is intended to explore the policy contexts that support quality and equitable teaching in Finland, and is co-authored with Raisa Ahtiainen (University of Helsinki) and Pasi Sahlberg (Harvard Graduate School of Education). It will be one of a set of cases that are intended to examine the policies around high quality teaching in ‘high-performing’ countries, and Linda Darling-Hammond is the Principal Investigator. As part of this work, I’m also directing a short documentary that will depict a day in the life of a teacher in a practice school (a school developed specifically to support new teachers’ learning to teach).