What is the Specialization in Teacher Education?

The Specialization is a demanding, but compact and flexible, curricular strand pursued in conjunction with coursework required for the student’s degree program. It is made up of four required courses and an approved “selective.” (All of these courses typically satisfy students’ degree requirements as well.) Courses examine the kinds of learning entailed in learning teaching; problems and contexts of, constraints on, and affordances for learning to teach and for teaching teachers; the enterprise of teacher education itself; and challenges of social justice arising in and bearing on teacher education. Specialization students are engaged in inquiry throughout the core courses. Guided practice of teacher education and empirical study of learning to teach are essential features of the curriculum. 

The course of study in detail, in two parts.

Course of study, part I: The core (required) courses

There is no required sequence to the course work; however, it is recommended that, if feasible, “Learning to Teach and Teacher Education” (C&T 6519), and “Guided Practice (Supervision) of Novice Teachers” (C&T 5512), be taken early, and that “Teacher Educator as Transformative Activist Researcher” (C&T 6020) be taken late. In any case, registration for the core courses usually requires instructor approval. This is so that the instructor may confer with the student about the content of the course and about its timing within the student’s overall course of study.

Please note that courses may be offered on an alternate year basis.

Learning to Teach and Teacher Education: Vanities and Visions, Dilemmas and Choices (C&T 6525) (3 cr), usually offered every other fall

This course entails critical investigation of a core question for teacher education: What is to be learned when teaching is learned? A related, not completely symmetrical question is: When teachers are taught to teach, what are they (to be) taught? (And more: by whom, where, when, how, and so forth.) A premise of the course is that all such questions must be understood in the first case as normative. Thus, matters of value, belief, purpose, and justice are bound up in the investigation, and properly so, not as ancillary matters. In tackling these, we will endeavor to get a good grip on an array of antecedent and subsidiary questions, and responses and approaches, that have been proposed to the core questions, including the following: How has learning to teach been conceptualized, with what consequences? In what ways might we call learning to teach a problem, and what problems are, perhaps, intrinsic to the undertaking? How have formal knowledges, practical wisdom, cultural and racial literacies, stance, dispositions, identity, skills, and practices, been proposed as answers to the presenting question, and how do they work as such? How and why does uncertainty come into play in these affairs? How do “theory and practice” come to be invoked, and typically dichotomized, in dealing with such questions, with what consequences? Readings, many of them challenging, include both classic and contemporary discussions of these matters. Students conduct a modest empirical inquiry into the learning of teaching, and frame, conceptualize, and analyze a problem of learning to teach.

Guided Practice (Supervision) of Novice Teachers, Birth - 12th Grade (C&T 5512), usually offered every year in the spring

“Supervision” and similar practices are virtually universal in preservice teacher education, as well as in schools and in-service contexts of all sorts. This course argues for a conception of supervision—or, by preference, guided practice in teaching—as a primary locus of teacher education. Core questions are: how is teaching learned in and from practice? and, how can such learning be fostered? Central to the course is critical analysis, including by means of self-study, of supervision (guidance) and related practices as they are and have been theorized, performed, structured, and experienced; course goals are equally for increased knowledge about histories, functions, and theories of supervision/guidance and for improvement in students’ purposeful and deliberate practices of guidance/supervision. A premise of the course is that problems and complexities of the whole enterprise of teacher education are especially visible from the vantage point of this close-to-practice work in the field. A corollary to that claim may well be that this location (that of “supervisor,” etc.) is uniquely advantageous (and tricky) for aiding in the formation of novice teachers—and novice teacher educators as well. Ordinarily, students serve in a supervisory/guiding capacity concurrent with the course.

Teacher Education in the US: Histories, Curricula, and Current Issues (C&T 6519), usually offered every other year

For doctoral students interested in teacher education and its histories: how it has been provided, organized, conceptualized, practiced, experienced, critiqued, and contested over time and place, including its relationships to social inequities, struggles, and changes. The course includes an overview of both customary and novel arrangements of teacher education in the present, and a consideration of current and looming challenges and controversies. Historical inquiry is a prominent feature of the course: both the class as a whole and students in small case study groups will conduct research in primary sources.

Teacher Educator as Transformative Activist Researcher: Inquiry in Teacher Learning (C&T 6020), usually offered every other spring

This course is designed to prepare future teacher educators to be researchers of teacher education. We begin by analyzing how the research on teacher education has been framed (in the U.S. context) and what questions have been researched. We use these to examine what questions are absent in the published studies and consider various explanations of why the research on teacher education has developed the way it has. Next, taking up a transformative, activist stance, we study various research methods and a wide variety of possible methodological tools. We use these to then design two research studies: one small-scale study examining a local pedagogical enactment; and one larger, mixed methods or longitudinal study designed to be conducted by a group.

Course of study, part II: The selective

Specialization students select one approved course (thus, a “selective”), in addition to the core courses, to fulfill the Specialization. The aim is to enable students to choose a course more or less directly relevant to teacher education, from across the College’s offerings, that is particularly germane to their individual interests, current and/or intended expertise, and professional aspirations. Note: The selective must be approved by the Director of the Specialization, in consultation with the student’s advisor. Students are therefore expected, as a general rule, to seek approval well before registering for their desired selective.

Topics students may wish to consider in making their choice include: discipline or domain specific contexts, curricula, and practices of teacher education; teacher learning in non-formal settings; social, cultural, political, historical, international contexts of and perspectives on teaching and teacher education; adult learning theory; conceptualizations and framings of children and youth; practitioner research; teacher education policy; design challenges in teacher education. A sense of “well-roundedness” is also worth having in mind. Following is a partial list of recommended courses, provided both for the merits of the individual courses and to suggest other possibilities.

A&HE 5518             Teaching English in Diverse Social/Cultural Contexts

A&HF 4091             The Call to Teach

A&HF 4094             School and Society

A&HH 4070             History of Education in the US

A&HW 5031            Teacher Education in Social Studies

C&T 4161                The Teacher: Socio-historical, Cultural Contexts of Teaching

C&T 5091               Culturally Relevant Education

CCPJ 5020              Racism and Racial Identity in Psychology and Education

EDPS 5001             Sociology of Teaching and Leadership in Education

ORLD 4051             How Adults Learn

ORLD 4053             Facilitating Adult Learning

MSTC 5155             Critical Voices in Teacher Education

Again, recall that this list is representative, not complete, and that prior approval of your selection is recommended.

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