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Taking Charge of Change in Teacher Education: Confronting the Problem of Coherence

“Teaching is a high-stakes practice—there is no more powerful position to hold than that of teaching,” said University of Missouri Kansas City Professor Etta Hollins at her November 2015 TeachingWorks streaming seminar series talk. What’s more, Professor Hollins described coherence as a series of opportunities to learn teaching, “like glue” that makes the opportunities to learn teaching work.

Hollins’ statements capture the commitments that inform the 2016 TeachingWorks/AACTE “Preparing Teachers for Practice” strand of the AACTE Annual Meeting, including a warrant to work together on the problems of change, improvement, and coherence in teacher education. This year’s strand confronts critical obstacles to change in teacher education. We ask boldly: Can we as the profession of teacher education stand up and take charge of change? What—if anything—would you argue should be common in teachers’ preparation across programs? Are there things that we can agree are crucial for any beginning teacher to be committed to and be able to do? Is there a way to reach some common professional ground in ways that are sensitive to contexts and respectful of difference? Is there a way to do this that does not silence or dominate diverse perspectives? What would you argue must vary, and why? Can such difference avoid exacerbating inequality?

Taking on these questions together can help us advance our commitment to prepare beginning teachers both who are dedicated to working responsibly with our nation’s youth and who have the fundamental skills, knowledge, and commitments to do so.

A highlight of the strand is the major forum, “(How) Can the Profession Specify Standards of Practice for Entry to Teaching?” to be held Thursday, February 25, 9:00-10:15 a.m. Drawing upon their work as scholars and practitioners who have worked across a variety of contexts, panelists and attendees will consider critical obstacles to change in teacher education. The following panelists will participate in this interactive dialogue:

The panel will foreground participants’ views, questions, and ideas, and will invite interaction and dialogue between the panelists and attendees.

We invite you to join us as we challenge and discipline ourselves to consider both practice and change at the same time. We will ask our panelists to do two key things in their talks: (a) to describe and argue for a set of practices and content knowledge that constitute a threshold for beginning practice—to answer the question “what must novices know and know how to do?”—and (b) to propose what it would take to generate agreement about this threshold across programs and contexts. In sum, we consider the fundamental question of what should be common and what should be specific, to name and warrant what it is that novices must be able to do to practice responsibly.

In its fourth year, the “Preparing Teachers for Practice” collaboration between TeachingWorks and AACTE examines the challenges of preparing novice teachers for practice and explores potential solutions. This strand provides a forum for sharing ideas and learning from organizations that are taking on the challenges of building practice-based teacher education. Please join us for this major forum as well as for the other talks in this strand.

Still need to register for the AACTE Annual Meeting? Click here to get started!

Deborah Loewenberg Ball is director of TeachingWorks, William H. Payne Collegiate Professor, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, and dean of the School of Education at the University of Michigan.
Simona Goldin is research specialist with TeachingWorks at the University of Michigan.

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Deborah Ball

University of Michigan

Simona Goldin

University of Michigan