Darling-Hammond 2014 Strengthening Clinical Preparation

Darling-Hammond, L. (2014). Strengthening clinical preparation: The holy grail of teacher education. Peabody Journal of Education, 89(4), 547-561. doi: 10.1080/0161956x.2014.939009

Summary: In this article, Linda Darling-Hammond calls for “well-supervised clinical practice” as being essential for the transformation of teacher education. While she doesn’t outline what “well-supervised” looks like, she does recognize the critical nature of supervision in teacher education, especially if teacher education moves towards placing clinical practice at the center of teacher preparation.

  • Powerful preparation programs:

    • Have coherence and integration

      • “The first is a tight coherence and integration among courses and between coursework and clinical work in schools that challenges traditional program organizations, staffing, and modes of operation” (p. 549).
      • “In such intensely coherent programs, core ideas are reiterated across courses and the theoretical frameworks animating course and assignments are consistent across the program” (p. 550).
      • “Although this seems obvious, crating coherence has been difficult in teacher education because of departmental divides, individualistic norms, and the hiring of part-time adjunct instructors in some institutions that have used teacher education as a ‘cash cow’ rather than an investment in our nation’s future” (p. 550).
    • Explicit links between theory and practice

      • “The second critically important feature that requires a wrenching change from traditional models of teacher education is the importance of extensive and intensely supervised clinical work – tightly integrated with coursework – that allows candidates to learn from expert practice in schools that serve diverse students” (p. 550).
    • New relationships with schools

      • “Finally, these kinds of strategies for connecting theory and practice cannot succeed without a major overhaul of the relationships between universities and schools that ultimately produce changes in the content of schooling as well as teacher training” (p. 553).
      • “Some very effective partnerships, however, have helped to create school environments for teaching and teacher training – through professional development schools (PDS), lab schools, and school reform networks – that are such strong models of practice and collaboration that the environment itself serves as a learning experience for teachers (Darling-Hammond, 2005; Trachtman, 1996)” (p. 553).
      • “Candidates learn in all parts of the school, not just individual classrooms; they receive more frequent and sustained supervision and feedback, and participate in more collective planning and decision making among teachers at the school (Abdal-Haqq, 1998, pp. 13-14; Darling-Hammond, 2005; Trachtman, 1996)” (p. 553).
      • “Seeking diversity by placing candidates in schools serving low-income students or students of color that suffer from the typical shortcomings many such schools face can actually be counterproductive” (p. 554). MY RESPONSE – This means that supervision must look different in these contexts. We need to have lower student to supervisor ratios so that supervisors can develop deeper, more meaningful relationships with the teachers and students of the preservice teachers with whom they are working. We also need reassigned teacher roles.
    • “Although not all of the more than 1000 school partnerships (Darling-Hammond & Bransford, 2005) created in the name of PDS work have been successful, there is growing evidence of the power of this approach. Studies polling employers and supervisors showed graduates of highly evloped PDSs were viewed as much better prepared than other new teachers (Hayes & Weatherill, 1996; Mantle-Bromley, 2002)” (p. 554).
    • “Although research has also demonstrated how difficult these partnerships are to enact, many schools of education are moving toward preparing all of their prospective teachers in such settings, both because they can more systematically prepare prospective teachers to learn to teach in professional learning communities and because such work is a key to changing schools so that they become more productive environments for the learning of all students and teachers” (pp. 554-555).
  • “As teacher educators consider how to accomplish this now-consensual goal, it will be important to take up, simultaneously, the other factors that will determine the success of this work. At minimum, these include creating a coherent vision and curriculum within and across the coursework and clinical components of the program, developing tasks and analytic opportunities that connect theory and practice, establishing school partnerships that are designed to support exemplary practice and pedagogical learning for teaching diverse learners, and incorporating strategies for assessing beginners’ capacity to practice – and informing ongoing program improvement – through sophisticated and educative assessments of what candidates can actually o when they are ready to enter the profession” (p. 557).