Reading & Wr iting to Build Community
Developing Pedagogies
through Knowing Students

Bringing K12 Practice to
Teacher Education Classrooms

Translating Practices
Translating Practices
The Class
The Context














A central challenge of teacher education is to teach prospective teachers how to develop curriculum and lesson plans that address curriculum mandates while remaining responsive to local contexts and particular students. Students used the websites to learn particular practices and also stances toward teaching. A focus on the identification of classroom rituals and routines in the Quest websites allowed them to take up these practices while also trying on the ways of teaching.

Introduction of assignment: Student teachers engage with
the work
student work page   Analysis of practice:   Assignment and   student work

Kathy's reflections:
Reflections on the challenges of translating practices

classroom video

                Final discussion:            Student teachers reflect on            learning from the websites
            click here for transcript

One opportunity provided by the need to translate practices was that student teachers learned about the importance of moment-to-moment decision-making, which is a central tenet of our program.  While we want to give the students strategies and ideas, we always want them to adapt these practices to their particular classrooms and students. Learning from the websites enabled student teachers to do the work of re-imagining a set of practices and ideas for new contexts. This supported our ideas of helping students to develop a stance and a set of beliefs that will undergird their practices whether they are teaching from a scripted curriculum or in a district that supports teachers to develop their own pedagogies and materials.

During my first year as a teacher educator at Penn GSE, one student commented in a midyear evaluation that we were teaching them urban theory and suburban methods (Schultz, 2003). She meant that we are an urban-focused program. The experiences, knowledge and practices that new teachers need to enter into and stay in urban public schools is at the center of our teacher education program. 

At the same time, she saw what she perceived as a focus on progressive teaching methods (such as writing workshops) as more appropriate to suburban rather than urban settings where these practices are increasingly rare. My goal for the remainder of the year became to convince her that we were teaching urban methods and theory and that they were inextricably linked.  Student teachers in our program continue to have to mediate between the ideas we introduce and the realities in their classrooms. We try to help them by explicitly addressing the issues surrounding teaching the core curriculum in our classrooms. Still they need to translate, and the practice of translating between grade levels and geographic locations gave them practice for this.