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An Appropriate Role for Practice in Teacher Education

A major conference at Teachers College will focus on infusing teacher education with the latest findings about how people learn
A major conference at Teachers College will focus on infusing teacher education with the latest findings about how people learn

Teachers College and TeachingWorks, a national organization at the University of Michigan School of Education dedicated to improving professional training for teachers, are convening a major a conference focused on thinking about appropriate and thoughtful roles for practice in teacher preparation programs. The event is intended to stimulate new thinking and approaches to teacher preparation, and to infuse education research and theory into thinking about classroom teaching and curricula.   

The full-day gathering of educators, policymakers and scholars, titled “Connecting Advances in Learning Research and Teacher Practice: A Conference about Teacher Education,” will take place on Thursday, July 19, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. at Teachers College, 120th and Broadway, New York City.

The conference is being organized by Susan H. Fuhrman, President of Teachers College and President of the National Academy of Education (NAEd); and Deborah Loewenberg Ball, Dean of the School of Education at the University of Michigan and Director of TeachingWorks.

Teacher education is at a crossroads, and a central dilemma for all involved is the role of practical experience in the development of new teachers. The conference organizers believe all teacher preparation programs – those in non-traditional venues, such as alternative-route programs, as well as academic institutions – can combine extensive, well-supervised practical experience with exposure to research and scholarship about a variety of relevant topics, including cognition, neuroscience, and how students learn.

“To improve education in the 21st century, we will need to reframe our thinking about the combination of practical experience, theory and evidence about teaching and learning that new teachers receive so that they are ready to perform on their very first day of teaching,” said Dr. Fuhrman.

The conference also will explore how teachers can apply new research on learning to the realities of classroom practice.

“Advocates claim that teaching, like other clinical professions, requires close training on specific techniques, approaches, and capabilities to ensure that novice professionals are prepared for the work,” Ball said. “The conference will allow us to explore how advances in learning theory and a focus on practice might be connected in the preparation and professional development of teachers.”

The conference will bring together different groups concerned with learning research and teacher education to investigate the following questions:
  1. What are the most promising developments in the research on learning, and how can teachers access and apply this knowledge in their classrooms?
  2. Which educational tools and technologies are most useful in practice?
  3. How can teacher educators incorporate new knowledge about learning into teacher education that focuses on practice?
  4. What is a “practice orientation” toward research about teaching and learning, and how could education researchers develop it?

Published Wednesday, Jul. 18, 2012


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