McDonald, Kazemi, & Kavanagh Core Practices and Pedagogies of Teacher Education

McDonald, M., Kazemi, E, & Kavanagh, S. (2013). Core practices and pedagogies of teacher education: A call for a common language and collective activity. Journal of Teacher Education, 20(10), 1-9.

Summary: The purpose of this article was to provide a conceptual framework for core practices to provide scholars with a common language and framework for researching and understanding core practices.

Defining core practice: “ By highlighting specific, routine aspects of teaching that demand the exercise of professional judgment and the creation of meaningful intellectual and social community for teachers, teacher educators, an students, core practices may offer teacher educators powerful tools for preparing teacher for the constant in-the-moment decision-making that the profession requires” (p. 1).


The authors draw upon Grossman, Hammerness, et al’s (2009) criteria for a core practice, which include :

  • “Practices that occur with high frequency in teaching,
  • Practices that novices can enact in classroom across different curricula or instructional approaches,
  • Practices that novices can actually begin to master,
  • Practices that allow novices to learn more about students and about teaching,
  • Practices that preserve the integrity and complexity of teaching, and
  • Practices that are research-based and have the potential to improve student achievement” (p. 3)

Their conceptual model:

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Figure 1. Cycle for collectively learning to engage in an authentic and ambitious instructional activity. (p. 5)


While the authors contend that there is no true beginning to the cycle and that the beginning can occur in any of the four quadrants, this description will begin with the upper right and proceed in a clockwise order.


(Upper Right) Introducing and Learning About the Activity (Pedagogies: Modeling, examining video exemplars, examining written cases)

(Lower Right) Preparing for and Rehearsing the Activity (Pedagogies: Collaborative Planning, Microteaching, Rehearsal)

(Lower Left) Enacting the Activity with Students (Pedagogies: Coo-teaching, Live Coaching)

(Upper Left) Analyzing Enactment and Moving Forward (Pedagogies: Video Analysis, Transcript Analysis, Reflection Writing)

The Core Practice is situated in the center circle.


MY THOUGHTS – I wondered to what extent experience could be a catalyst for the introducing and learning about the activity. The authors state that the cycle could begin by analyzing the practice. I wondered if a discrepant event in practice could trigger the cycle, especially if the core practice is occurring in an authentic and clinically rich setting. Stimulation by experience seems to be a more constructivist pedagogy as compared to the ones listed (modeling, examining video exemplars, and examining written cases) that appear to be more didactic in nature.


Defining professional learning: “We view professional learning as a process of becoming a teacher with concomitant knowledge, beliefs, and skills” (p. 4).


The authors also offer a table of types of settings (controlled setting such as a methods course held at a university, a designed setting such as a methods course held in a K-12 setting, and an authentic setting where the teacher educators are working side-by-side with the teachers and/or the classrooms where those teachers are the teachers of record. The teacher educators know the students well. Together the teachers and the teacher educators work to support the K-12 student).

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Table 1. The Learning Cycle Across Settings. (p. 7)



Grossmna, P., Hammerness, K., & McDonald, M. (2009). Redefining teaching, re-imagining teacher education. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and practice, 15, 273-289.

Kennedy, M. M. (1999). The role of preservice teacher education. In L. Darling-Hammond & G. Sykes (Eds.), Teaching as the learning profession: Handbook of teaching and policy (pp. 54-86). San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.