Supervised Teaching II Discussing Signature Pedagogies in Teacher Education

I am teaching my first doctoral course this semester, and I am so excited! The course is called EDH 7326 Supervised Teaching II. The course focuses on inquiry and coaching in teacher preparation. As a scholar and practitioner, my goal in this course is not only to enhance my students' knowledge and understanding of teacher education, teacher preparation, supervision, and coaching, but also to give them the opportunity to apply the principles in their teacher preparation setting. I am beyond excited to see what they make sense of and how they apply their understandings to their own setting.

There are eight students in my course. Two are from Ghana, one is from Kuwait, and the other five are from the United States. Four students are part time doctoral students. One is currently teaching at another local institution and working on her doctorate. For two of them, I believe this course (and any other courses they are taking this semester) is their first doctoral level course. Four of the students work in our elementary program. The others are from other programs like early childhood education. Overall, I am anxious to get to know them more and learn about their diverse backgrounds and experiences.


As part of the course, the students are required to read the assigned readings prior to class and post a reflective blog entry on their professional web sites at least 48 hours prior to our face to face class. This permits all of us to read each other's thoughts looking for themes across the posts. It also allows me to look for misconceptions and gives me ideas on how to structure the lecture and format the discussion for the face to face part of the class.


This first week the readings are focused on signature pedagogies in teacher education and models of clinical preparation. The four readings included Cochran-Smith's (2003) Education of Teacher Educators, Shulman's (2005) two articles on signature pedagogies in the professions, Yendol-Hoppey and Franco's (2014) signature pedagogy in PDS, and Dennis, Burns, Tricarico, vanIngen, Jacobs, and Davis's (in press) chapter on clinical models of teacher preparation set to be published in 2015. Reflection is a signature pedagogy of PDSs (Yendol-Hoppey & Franco, 2014), and perhaps it is a signature pedagogy of teacher education and teacher educator education. As I read my students' reflections, I realized that I could unearth some highly effective practices in reflecting on an online space. These best practices include :

  1. Citing references
  2. Providng hyperlinks to others' posts and to outside resources
  3. Connecting to personal experiences and previous literature read
  4. Asking questions
  5. Wrestling with ideas and concepts of the literature and of others' thoughts

This list is by no means exhaustive, but I think it gives a good foundation for writing a solid reflection. If you have additional best practices to add, please reply to this entry.


As I read the students' reflections, I wondered if they really had a sense of what professional development schools are. I've been a member of the AERA PDS Research SIG for several years now, and I currently the chair. I also serve on the Board of Directors for the National Association for Professional Development Schools, and in both organizations, we see similar struggles. Many do not seem to know what a professional development school is. I guess that fact should not be surprising as PDSs and really teacher education in general have suffered from a lack of common nomenclature (see Abdel-Haqq, 1998; Jacobs, Burns, & Yendol-Hoppey, 2014; Zeicher, 2005). However, both NCATE (now CAEP) and NAPDS have made a concerted effort to make statents about what it means to be a professional development school by creating the NCATE PDS Standards (2001) and the NAPDS Nine Essentials (2008). As part of class tomorrow, I think I'm going to have to help situate professional development schools in the scholarship of teacher education and in the clinical models of teacher preparation. One of the students raised some intriguing questions in her reflection (which was not posted on a web site yet) regarding the relationship between signature pedagogies and clinical models of teacher preparation. She asked, "When thinking of establishing SPs within teacher education, where would the SPs be placed?  Would they be present during coursework, field experience, or both?  Which model of clinical education would be used?" While I have my own thoughts on this matter, I think I'd like to raise these questions during our discussion.


Another student really wrestled with the tension between signature pedagogies being standardized and the need to differentiate for students. She asked, "Can signature pedagogies be differentiated?" At the end of her reflection, she argues that she thinks they can be, and I would agree, but I wonder what others' thoughts are on this question. This tension between standardization and innovation was prevalent in the posts. One student quoted Shulman by saying that "positive growth can occur when disequilibrium exists." As I read her thoughts (which also were not posted yet on a site) made me ask the questions: (1) if we standardize, can we innovate? and (2) Is inconsistency "a bad thing," especially if inconsistency creates a disequilibrium? At present, these questions raised by students will provide a structure for our conversation tomorrow, but I am anxious to see how the discussion unfolds.

Until my next post...