JTE Article on Context-Specific Preparation of Urban Teachers to Win AACTE Award

AACTE will honor authors Kavita Kapadia Matsko of the University of Chicago and Karen Hammerness of the American Museum of Natural History with the 2015 AACTE Outstanding Journal of Teacher Education (JTE) Article Award for their article “Unpacking the ‘Urban’ in Urban Teacher Education: Making a Case for Context-Specific Preparation,” published in the March/April 2014 issue of the journal. The award will be presented at the 67th AACTE Annual Meeting Welcoming Session, Friday, February 27, at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.

While much has been discussed about the need for teachers to be familiar with and sensitive to the particular communities in which their work evolves, it is less clear how such familiarity and sensitivity are to be developed and nurtured. In this article, the authors examine how the University of Chicago’s Urban Teacher Education Program (UTEP) specifically addresses the contextual features of a partner school district, providing detailed analysis of UTEP’s investment in a pedagogy centered on “what it means to use knowledge about the environment affecting the child to tailor instruction—an important teaching tool for any setting.”

Grappling with federal, state, and district policy and into local, geographical, sociocultural, and student/classroom contexts, UTEP endeavors to walk its prospective teachers from “universal” to “context-specific” conceptualizations of teachers’ work. The program intentionally deconstructs “layers of contextual knowledge” as the typical practices of teaching are taught and delivered in classrooms.

“Teaching in urban settings is for the dedicated, brilliant, reflective, and the well prepared,” said Timothy F. C. Knowles, John Dewey Director of the Urban Education Institute at the University of Chicago. “In this exceptional paper, Kapadia Matsko and Hammerness provide teacher educators with a much deeper perspective on what preparing teachers for urban contexts actually means, illuminating new truths and breaking important ground for the field.”

Maritza McDonald, senior director of education and policy and codirector of the AMNH-MAT Teacher Preparation Program at the American Museum of Natural History, said the study “sets a precedent at three levels: (1) It gives the field language and purpose to study, and redefines terms such as urban, diversity, and underserved by using instead terms such as rich histories and additive frameworks when thinking about school communities; (2) it presents ‘context’ as the sociological framework required to understand how geographies, policies, and history give meaning to the more generic definition and application of pedagogical content knowledge; and (3) it provides us with a complete methodological approach to researching, replicating, or assessing the specific goals and missions of specific teacher education programs.”

The AACTE Outstanding JTE Article Award, overseen by the AACTE Committee on Research and Dissemination, recognizes exemplary scholarship published in the journal in the areas of educator preparation or of teaching and learning with implications for educator preparation. The journal’s editors at Penn State University nominated top articles from the 2014 volume year for the committee to review for this year’s award.

For more information about the journal, visit http://jte.sagepub.com. For information on AACTE’s awards program, including lists of past winners, visit http://aacte.org/professional-development-and-events/awards.

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Kristin McCabe

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