How Teachers Learn and Develop Notes

Hammerness, K., Darling-Hammond, L., & Bransford, J. (2005). How teachers learn and develop. In L. Darling-Hammond & J. Bransford, (Eds.), Preparing teachers for a changing world: What teachers should learn and be able to do, pp. 358 - 389. San Francisco, CA: Wiley & Sons.

Chapter 10: How Teachers Learn and Develop

  • “Learning to teach requires that new teachers come to think about (and understand) teaching in ways quite different from what they have learned from their own experiences as students (p. 359).”
  • Lortie 1975 coined the phrase “apprenticeship of observation” to refer to the aforementioned phenomenon. It is “…the learning that takes place by virtue of being a student for twelve or more years in traditional classroom settings (p. 359).”
  • When learning to teach, preservice teachers need to also learn to think like a teacher. “They need not only to understand but also to do a wide variety of things, many of them simultaneously. Meeting this challenge requires much more than simply having students memorize facts and procedures or even discuss ideas (p. 359).”
  • “…what teachers do will still be influenced by changing student needs and unexpected classroom events…many other decisions in teaching cannot be routinized because they are contingent upon student responses and the particular objectives sought at a given moment (p. 359).”
  • “They (preservice teachers) need to develop metacognitive habits of mind that can guide decisions and reflection on practice in support of continual improvement (p. 359).” For me, the question is how. How do we get them to think systematically?
  • Three problems in teacher education:

    • Apprenticeship of observation (Lortie, 1975)
    • The problem of enactment (Kennedy, 1999)
    • The problem of complexity

Teachers as Adaptive Experts

  • A summary from the problem solving literature suggests that “…the way people initially frame problems has major effects on their solution strategies because different framings open up different ‘problem spaces’ for people to explore (p. 360).”
  • “Expert teachers are able to perform a variety of activities without having to stop and think about how to do them (p. 361). I would refer to this as tacit knowledge.
  • “Expert and novice teachers notice very different things when viewing videotapes of classroom lessons (p. 361).”
  • “Lifelong learning along the innovation dimension typically involves moving beyond existing routines and often requires people to rethink key ideas, practices, and even values in order to change what they are doing. These kinds of activities can be highly emotionally charged, and the capacity to consider change without feeling threatened is an important ability (p. 361).”
  • “The processes of efficiency and innovation are assumed to be complementary at a global level, although they can sometimes appear to be antagonistic at a local level. They are complementary when appropriate levels of efficiency make room for innovation (p. 362).”
  • “With experience and instruction, problem situations change from being novel, nonroutine problems to routine problems….However, if the entire range of answers generated by students seems novel to the teacher, he or she will be overwhelmed and unable to cope (p. 362).”

Teaching Strategies and Efficiency Versus Innovation

  • We script lessons for teachers because of two reasons. “The effort to develop more routinized approaches to teaching is a response to at least two factors: (1) the perception of low levels of teaching skill on the part of practitioners, and (2) an attempt to create ore standardization in students’ experiences across classrooms and schools (p. 363).”
  • Disciplined improvisation “…involves innovation within a set of general constraints (p. 364).” Such a concept helps teachers “innovate within constraints (p. 364).”
  • “A major part of the vision for future teachers must involve efforts to help them see that being a professional involves not simply ‘knowing the answers’ but also having the skills and will to work with others in evaluating their own performances and searching for new answers when needed, both at the classroom level and the school level (p. 365).”
  • “When teachers have learned to develop their teaching in these collaborative contexts, they welcome rather than avoid such feedback (p. 365).”
  • “True adaptive expertise for a teaching professional involves a deep appreciation of the value of actively seeking feedback from nay sources in order to make the best decisions for children and to continue to learn throughout one’s life (p. 366).”

Some Learning Principles for Facilitating Teacher Development

  • “Prospective teachers come to the classroom with preconceptions about how the world, and teaching, works (p. 366),” as a result of their apprenticeship of observation.
  • In order to develop competence, teachers must possess knowledge about content and theory, understand the place of such information in a conceptual framework, and organize their knowledge so that it can be easily retrieved and applied when required to do so.
  • “A ‘metacognitive’ approach to instruction can help teachers learn to take control of their own learning by providing tools for analysis of events and situations that enable them to understand and handle the complexities of life in classrooms (p. 366).”
  • The Importance of Addressing Student Preconceptions

    • “…prospective teachers have preconceptions that affect what they learn from teacher educators and in-classroom experiences (p. 367).”
    • “The sociologist Dan Lortie (1975) used the term apprenticeship of observation to refer to the processes by which prospective teachers develop conceptions of teaching based on their own experiences as students (p. 367).”
    • “…they (students/preservice teachers) are not privy to the teacher’s private intentions and personal reflections on classroom events (p. 367).”
    • Good teaching looks easy. The cognitive decisions and strategies used in facilitation of good teaching practices are invisible to the observer.
    • “…novice teachers often use the same language as teacher educators but signify different things with their language than do teacher educators (p. 368).”
    • “Many beliefs consist of unexamined assumptions that need to be made explicit and explored. These views tend to focus on affective qualities of teachers (for example, caring), teaching styles, and individual children, with little appreciation of the role of social contexts, subject matter, or pedagogical knowledge (p. 368).” (Paine, 1990; Sugrue, 1996).