Expanding Opportunities to Link Research and Clinical Practice: A Volume in Research in Professional Development Schools
reviewed by Aaron S. Zimmerman - July 16, 2018
Title: Expanding Opportunities to Link Research and Clinical Practice: A Volume in Research in Professional Development Schools
Author(s): JoAnne Ferrara, Janice L. Nath, & Irma N. Guadarrama (Eds.)
Publisher: Information Age Publishing, Charlotte
ISBN: 1681238039, Pages: 280, Year: 2017
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JoAnne Ferrara and colleagues have assembled an edited volume that presents readers with multiple examples of how the professional development school (PDS) model of teacher education can be leveraged to produce powerful outcomes. A professional development school is a space where teacher learning occurs in the context of engagement with real-world problems of practice. By design, university faculty, teacher candidates, and school partners collaborate to improve learning outcomes for students (Darling-Hammond, 2005; Holmes Group, 1990).
The examples presented in this edited volume vary in terms of geographical context (including the United Kingdom and the Midwestern, Southern, and Northeastern United States). The focus of each chapter varies as well. For example, different chapters explore how to mobilize the PDS model to improve teaching using video-based action research (Chapter Six), to integrate literacy across the curriculum (Chapter Eleven), and to prepare novice teachers for culturally relevant pedagogy (Chapter Seven). In this review, I will highlight three particular affordances of the PDS model of teacher education that are prominent throughout the edited volume.
First, by situating the teacher education classroom in the context of K-12 schools, the PDS model tightly integrates coursework and fieldwork (Chapters Three, Six, Seven, Eight, and Nine). Hence, preservice teachers are given the opportunity to learn about theory in the context of practice. Indeed, much of the professional learning that occurs within the PDS model takes the form of action research and collaborative inquiry (Chapters Two, Ten, and Eleven), and teacher candidates are encouraged to apply their developing knowledge of content, curriculum, and instruction in order to contribute directly to the learning outcomes of students. Indeed, this linking of theory and practice throughout the professional development of teachers has, consistently, been shown to be an effective approach to teacher education (Brouwer & Korthagen, 2005; Korthagen, 2017).
Second, the PDS model of teacher education has the potential to build channels of rich and frequent communication between mentor teachers and university faculty (Chapters Five, Nine, and Ten). For example, Chapter Five details the way in which the University of Minnesota-Mankato and their professional development school partners established a comprehensive program designed to prepare teacher candidates for the edTPA performance assessment. By making a commitment to open communication, appropriate training, and shared expectations amongst all partners, the PDS model was able to provide teacher candidates with consistent and valuable formative feedback throughout their professional growth. This potential outcome of the PDS model is notable given that, by way of contrast, a lack of shared expectations between mentor teachers and university faculty often emerges as one of the premier challenges that traditional teacher education programs must overcome (Santoli & Martin, 2012; Valencia, Martin, Place, & Grossman, 2009). Furthermore, it is worth noting that investing in the creation of shared expectations and the construction of consistent channels of feedback between school and university can contribute to the cultivation of a culture of evidence within teacher education programs (Peck & McDonald, 2013). This may be one of the timeliest affordances of the PDS model, given that comprehensive methods of assessment and consistent methods of data use for program improvement are increasingly becoming expectations of all contemporary teacher education programs (Bastian et al., 2016).
Third, the PDS model of teacher education situates the process of learning to teach in specific contexts. That is to say, by means of professional engagement within the context of a professional development school, preservice teachers do not learn about teaching solely via concepts, theories, and generalized practices; rather, preservice teachers learn to appreciate the goals, values, and expectations that particular schools and communities have regarding education (see Chapters Two, Eight, and Twelve). In this way, contextualizing the process of learning to teach within local communities not only supports preservice teachers in appreciating the critical importance of culturally relevant curriculum and instruction (see Chapters Seven and Fourteen) but also combats the unfortunate neoliberal trend of turning teaching into a commercial product that can be produced without attention to how local community stakeholders define the aims of education for themselves (Zeichner, Bowman, Guillen, & Napolitan, 2016; Zimmerman, 2018).
While reviewing this edited volume, it is also worth mentioning the challenges associated with forming and sustaining the partnerships required for the professional development school model of teacher education. Multiple chapters in this edited volume describe the tensions that may exist between stakeholders. For example, university faculty and mentor teachers may share different expectations for their teacher candidates (Chapters Four, Six, Eight, and Nine), and maintaining consistent, informative, and honest communication between different university faculty and school partners within the PDS model requires intentional and sustained effort (Chapters Five, Ten, and Twelve). In the final chapter of the edited volume (Chapter Fourteen), the authors emphasize the importance of developing a partnership that benefits all stakeholders in the PDS model. This requires creating time and space for university faculty and school partners to work together to develop shared understandings related to curriculum, instruction, assessment, and the developmental trajectory of learning to teach. Additionally, universities must incentivize faculty to invest in the PDS model, since successful implementation of the PDS model often requires greater flexibility and reciprocal engagement in the local community than traditional models of teacher education. Unless institutions of higher education create incentives for faculty, such as time, professional development, and public recognition, the energy and commitment required to maintain an ambitious, community-engaged PDS model of teacher education may falter (Chapters Two and Eight; see also Sandmann, Saltmarsh, & OMeara, 2016; Welch & Plaxton-Moore, 2017).
In conclusion, this edited volume will help readers to recognize the unique opportunities afforded by the professional development school model of teacher education. Readers should also come away with an appreciation for the challenges associated with this approach. In particular, when teacher education programs attempt to establish effective university-school partnerships, it is important for multiple stakeholders (e.g., practicing teachers, university faculty, mentor teachers, school administrators, field supervisors, preservice teachers, and community members) to be involved in the process of cultivating and sustaining these reciprocally beneficial partnerships. If such partnerships can be effectively sustained, then, as this edited volume demonstrates, the positive outcomes for all stakeholders involved can be significant.
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Brouwer, N., & Korthagen, F. (2005). Can teacher education make a difference? American Educational Research Journal, 42(1), 153224.
Darling-Hammond, L. (2005). Professional development schools: Schools for developing a profession. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
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Peck, C. A., & McDonald, M. (2013). Creating "cultures of evidence" in teacher education: Context, policy, and practice in three high-data-use programs. The New Educator, 9(1), 1228.
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