Anna Richert • Mills College, Oakland, CA • Adolescent Development


The Class

The Context

Arroyo Video
The course context
The Adolescent Development class where I experimented using the Carnegie materials is a one semester course at Mills College in Oakland CA.  The course falls during the first semester of a fifth-year credential program.  The students are first year MA students beginning their professional preparation. As the Venn diagram illustrates, I incorporated the Carnegie materials into the course as one of three “texts” we considered during the semester. Whenever possible I created activities that asked students to reflect on the three texts simultaneously---the readings, the voices of adolescent students and the Carnegie teachers.

My teacher education dilemma
A dilemma I face in teaching Adolescent Development is how to make it clear to my students why learning about adolescent development is so critically important to secondary school teaching.  Whereas it is obvious to most students that to teach adolescents well one has to know them well, it is less clear what “knowing them” might mean and/or look like when it comes to teaching practice.  It is also not so clear how a practicing teacher might accomplish the complex task of getting to know her students while simultaneously teaching them.  As hard as it is to understand these ideas about teaching, it has been equally challenging to figure out how to teach these ideas in my Adolescent Development class. 

An Interview
about the course
 Framing the course


 Problems & surprises
 Student learning
 Inspired teaching
 Full Interview

Where the Carnegie materials fit in

Because they provide multilayered images of teachers whose practice shows considerable knowledge of the learners, I had the idea that drawing on these images of teaching practice in my class might help me address this dilemma.  I decided to check out this hypothesis by opening my class with a series of guided investigations of several Carnegie K-12 sites.  So that I could learn whether or not this strategy “worked” for my students I documented the steps I took in the process.  We designed this site to tell the story of what happened during the 2004-05 school year.

My guiding questions

  • In what ways (if at all) might the Carnegie sites help me make clear to my students the central importance of “knowing the learner” for successful secondary school teaching? 
  • What can my students and I learn about adolescent development and teaching adolescents from the studying the practice of our successful veteran secondary school colleagues?