In this year’s TeachingWorks streaming seminar series we consider critical obstacles to change in teacher education. We ask speakers and ourselves: how can the profession of teacher education stand up to the challenges and take charge of change?

We seek to advance the proposition that we should stand up to form a profession in which standards of practice are shared and collectively upheld.  This means delving into questions about what should vary, and why, and what needs to be common. We hold strong beliefs about context, and we differ in our ideas about good teaching, and what is good for whom.  Knowing that skillful teaching must be sensitive and responsive to contexts and communities, we are unsure about what defines professional practice, whether with respect to specific approaches and techniques, to knowledge, or to ethics.  These questions present us collectively with dilemmas that matter for the status of teaching, its infrastructure, and our ability to support its development.

We seek to sponsor collective work on this dilemma by considering the question of entry of novices to the profession.  We invite speakers to nominate and elaborate a threshold for beginners that teacher education itself can actually accomplish.  Speakers will focus on what initial preparation programs can reasonably strive to accomplish that can contribute to the quality of entry-level teaching. It is imperative that we prepare teachers to begin teaching responsibly with children who attend school in districts where there is no special support for new teachers. They deserve to have high quality instruction as much as those enrolled in better-resourced districts. Presenters will consider how we might know that our graduates are ready to enter classrooms and take responsibility for their students’ learning.

Speakers will do two key things:

  • Describe and argue for a set of practices and content knowledge that constitute a threshold for beginning practice. Speakers will answer the question “what must novices know and know how to do?”
  • Propose what it would take to generate agreement about this threshold across programs and contexts.

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. 

We invite you to join us this year as we ask: what would you argue should be common in TE, and what professional infrastructure are necessary to integrate this agreement coherently across the profession of teacher education?  What would you argue must vary, and why?  Will such variation improve equity or could it exacerbate inequality? Each of this year’s sessions will highlight presenters’ perspectives about building this important professional coherence.  

Click here to register for the 2015-2016 seminar series.