Teacher educators aim to devise programs and experiences with the goal of educating teachers whose knowledge, skills, and habits of mind will intermingle to create pleasing patterns of practice called quality teaching.
For generations, the kaleidoscope has captivated children and adults alike. The kaleidoscope viewer puts one end of the tube to her eye, points the other toward a light source, then rotates the tube, producing colorful symmetrical patterns formed by the tiny, tumbling objects inside.
Beautiful though they are, these patterns are evanescent, disappearing with the twist of the wrist. The kaleidoscope maker cannot predict what patterns might emerge from the individual bits of colored glass, beads, or stones placed inside the tube. We believe that it is not too great a stretch to suggest that teacher educators are similar to kaleidoscope makers. Teacher educators put together programs of course work and experiences with the goal of educating teachers whose knowledge, skills, and habits of mind will intermingle to create pleasing patterns of practice called quality teaching.
Unfortunately, neither decades of research nor volumes of policy documents on quality teaching and teacher education have yielded a definitive way to make those patterns consistent across contexts with different students, teachers, subject matter, and curricula, among other characteristics. It is generally assumed that quality teaching plays a major, if not the most important, role in shaping students’ academic performances (Darling-Hammond & Youngs, 2002).
It is further assumed that quality teaching is sorely needed, but lacking especially in urban school contexts, in order to help close achievement gaps and level the educational playing field for marginalized groups (Banks et al., 2005; Hollins & Guzman, 2005). These assumptions about quality teaching form a significant part of the conceptual base that has been driving the reform of teaching over the past 20 years and are evident in influential teaching reform and policy documents, legislation, and curriculum and teaching standards.
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