Home arrow Perspectives arrow Anna Richert and Julie Nicholson

Preparing teachers for responsible and responsive practice: Using web-based records of practice to teach foundational ideas and dispositions


There exists in the teacher preparation literature a persistent tension regarding what beginning teachers need to know and be able to do and therefore what ought to be included in the curriculum of preservice teacher education. A strand of this debate concerns what the field calls the “foundations of education.” The perspective we take in this review frames “foundations” not in terms of the social foundations as traditionally conceived, which we see as a different but related domain, but rather in terms of foundational ideas and dispositions that under gird the practice of teaching itself. These foundational ideas and dispositions are unique to the practice of teaching and can both be taught and learned. Indeed, we believe they must be taught and learned as they form the basis upon which principled practice rests.

The Quest websites offer teacher educators rich possibilities for helping novice teachers construct understandings about the foundational ideas and professional dispositions that characterize the practice of accomplished teachers. Because they are multi-layered representations of teaching practice that show images of teachers teaching, students engaged in rigorous academic learning, teachers reflecting on their practice, student work, teaching in different contexts, and so forth, teacher educators can draw on them to study multiple aspects of the complex work of teaching practice.

In this Perspective we highlight the work of three experienced teacher educators who draw on the Quest sites to guide their students in identifying principled practice that is guided by foundational ideas. Recognizing practice as principled in this way---and attending to it as a content area for professional preparation---is one step in helping students to begin to construct a professional identity built on an understanding of the principles and dispositions of teaching guided by a social justice ideal.

Our goals are twofold:

  1. to provide a perspective on the use of web-based images of practice as a vehicle for teaching foundational ideas and dispositions in teacher preparation; and
  2. to clarify through example what we mean by this view of foundational ideas and dispositions and why we see this component of teacher preparation as essential.