Rethinking Teacher Capacity

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					Rethinking Teacher Capacity




                         Bill McDiarmid
          Boeing Professor of Education
              University of Washington
              Who Am I

• Teacher (36 years)
    • Elementary, secondary, higher ed
    • Rural & urban
•   Father & husband
•   Partnership builder
•   Researcher (rural teachers & schools)
•   Product of rural America
      Why this topic?

• Capacity: “Innate potential for growth,
  development, or accomplishment.”
• Aid in thinking about how best to
  support teachers -- along the
  continuum
• Radical changes in the context of
  teaching unacknowledged
Story of Teacher Capacity:
       Continuities
Categories are still useful
• Knowledge
• Skills
• Dispositions
Continuity: What Teachers Need
         to Know & Be
   • (1) Subject matter: “careful review of the branches
     of knowledge required to be taught in our schools”
   • (2) Pedagogical methods: “the art of teaching…”
   • (3) Learning: “the laws which control the faculties
     of the youthful mind in pursuit and attainment of
     the truth”
   • (4) Positive moral influence on students
                     • Massachusetts Governor Everett
          at the opening the Barre Normal School, 1839
       Knowledge

• Learners -- both in general &
  specifically
• Content -- what they teach
• Methods -- how they create learning
  opportunities
• Context -- School, community, state,
  regional, national, international
   The Teaching Triangle
                    Learner



          Context             Context




Teacher                             Curriculum
                    Context
                     Skills
• Craft knowledge-- i.e., How to …
   • organize a classroom
   • manage groups of (often reluctant) learners with
     individual needs
   • counsel children/youth
   • present new ideas, information, & processes
   • assess what students are learning
   • work with parents, colleagues, staff, administrators,
     community members
   • manage paper flow
   • perform a range of non-instructional tasks
   • use constantly changing technology
   • mentor beginning teachers
             Dispositions
• Attitudes, Values, Beliefs, Commitments
   • Caring about kids, colleagues, the community
   • Believing that all children can learn what is in the
     curriculum
   • Committed to ensuring each child learns
   • Valuing public schools -- where all are welcome &
     nurtured -- as critical to democracy
   • Valuing the transmission of essential cultural
     knowledge
   • Valuing the intellectual, social, & spiritual development
     of every child
Story of Teacher Capacity:
      Discontinuities
How was teaching different 36
        years ago?
• Students, classrooms, & schools
   • More homogenous ethnically &
     linguistically
   • Special needs students segregated
   • Teachers more control over curriculum,
     methods, assessment
   • Stronger local control, far less federal &
     state regulation
How was teaching different 36 years ago:
       Standards for Success
    • Largely locally determined -- therefore,
      uneven (lower in some rural areas)
    • High school graduates worthy & employed
      members of community
    • Maybe higher ed
    • Kids “happy,” learned social skills
What social & cultural factors
 account for differences?
 • Immigration & changing demographics
 • Changes in family make-up
   • More single parents (most work)
   • More mothers who work
What economic factors account for
          differences?

   •   Fewer good paying manufacturing jobs
   •   More low paying service sector jobs
   •   Fewer rural jobs
   •   Greater global competition for markets
   •   Housing less affordable in some areas
   •   Higher education much more
       expensive
Summary: Changes over the
  Past Several Decades
 • More ethnically & linguistically diverse students
   (and growing more so)
 • Mainstreaming of special needs students
 • Less local control
 • Higher expectations for student performance
 • Changing family structure
 • Fewer well-paid blue-color jobs
 • Global competition
       Internal Changes:
      Rethinking Learning
New standards emphasize students’ ability not
  only to master key information, & process
  but to understand underlying ideas &
  concepts.
Teachers’ task: Understand the underlying
  ideas/concepts & transform them for diverse
  learners.
    Internal Changes:
   Rethinking Learning
• Understanding learning as a social rather
  than solely individual phenomenon
• Understand our world through interactions
  with others
• Language -- a social medium -- shapes what
  we experience
• Question: How do we take advantage? How
  can technology be used?
   Internal Changes:
 Rethinking Knowledge
• New knowledge being added a dizzying
  pace
• Impossible for individual to know an entire
  field
• Greater interdependence -- no one has the
  whole truth -- rather, strands
• Debate about what cultural knowledge to
  pass on -- hence, debate over standards
        Internal Changes:
       Rethinking Learners
• Increased understanding of differences in learners
  -- modalities but also prior experience
• Persistent lack of success for same groups of
  students
   •   Poor -- both rural & urban
   •   Students of color
   •   English language learners
   •   Special needs
• Price paid by unsuccessful students never higher
  Rethinking Schools &
       Democracy
19th c. origins: common schools as “social
  cement” & educating the citizenry
20th c.: increasing emphasis on economic role
  of schooling -- individual & national
      Measure of ed success: International
       competitiveness
Teachers: responsible for nurturing the
  dispositions, habits, & practices critical to a
  democracy
Rethinking Teacher Learning &
          Expertise
  • Teaching as a practice that is shaped…
    •   Colleagues & school community
    •   Surrounding community
    •   District & state policies
    •   Textbook & curriculum publishers
    •   Standardized assessments
  • Requires knowledge & skills to negotiate a
    practice -- not acknowledged
Rethinking Teacher Learning &
          Expertise
  • Nature of teaching expertise
    • Routine expertise: “years of problem-solving
      experiences in a given domain, can solve
      familiar types of problems quickly &
      accurately”
    • Adaptive expertise: “go beyond the routine
      competencies … flexible, innovative, and
      creative competencies rather than … speed,
      accuracy, and automaticity of solving familiar
      problems”
Rethinking Teacher Learning &
          Expertise
  • Developing adaptive expertise requires time
    & support -- occurs across the continuum
  • How do we support teachers across the
    continuum in developing their adaptive
    expertise?
  • Requires rethinking teachers’ careers as
    well as opportunities to learn from their
    practice & colleagues
What Does All this Rethinking
         Suggest
  • Developing “cultures of evidence” in
    schools & universities
    • What’s the evidence that what we are doing is
      helping every student learn?
    • Not just gathering data -- but interpreting it for
      practice in a transparent process
          Conclusions

• Discontinuities outweigh continuities in our
  understanding of teacher capacity
• Changing what teachers need to know, be
  able to do, & care about
  • Contextual changes -- in society, politics,
    economy, & accumulation of knowledge
  • Internal changes -- in understanding the social
    nature of learning, how teachers learn over time
Implications?




What do you think?

				
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posted:9/18/2012
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