To teach all students according to
today’s standards, teachers need to understand subject matter deeply and
flexibly so they can help students create useful cognitive maps, relate one
idea to another, and address misconceptions. Teachers need to see how ideas
connect across fields and to everyday life. This kind of understanding provides
a foundation for pedagogical content knowledge that enables teachers to make
ideas accessible to others (Shulman, 1987).
Shulman (1986) introduced the phrase
pedagogical content knowledge and sparked a whole new wave of scholarly
articles on teachers' knowledge of their subject matter and the importance of
this knowledge for successful teaching. In Shulman's theoretical framework,
teachers need to master two types of knowledge: (a) content, also known as
"deep" knowledge of the subject itself, and (b) knowledge of the
curricular development. Content knowledge encompasses what Bruner (as cited in
Shulman, 1992) called the
"structure of knowledge"–the theories, principles, and concepts of a particular discipline. Especially important is content knowledge
that deals with the teaching process, including the most useful forms of representing
and communicating content and how students best learn the specific concepts and
topics of a subject. "If beginning
teachers are to be successful, they must wrestle simultaneously with issues of
pedagogical content (or knowledge) as well as general pedagogy (or generic
teaching principles)" (Grossman, as cited in Ornstein, Thomas, &
Lasley, 2000, p. 508).
Shulman (1986, 1987, 1992) created a
Model of Pedagogical Reasoning, which comprises a cycle of several activities
that a teacher should complete for good teaching: comprehension,
transformation, instruction, evaluation, reflection, and new comprehension.
To teach is to first understand purposes, subject matter structures, and ideas
within and outside the discipline. Teachers need to understand what they teach
and, when possible, to understand it in several ways. Comprehension of purpose
is very important. We engage in teaching to achieve the following educational
To help students gain
To enable students to use
and enjoy their learning experiences
To enhance students’
responsibility to become caring people
To teach students to
believe and respect others, to contribute to the well-being of their community
To give students the
opportunity to learn how to inquire and discover new information
To help students develop
broader understandings of new information
To help students develop
the skills and values they will need to function in a free and just society (Shulman,
The key to distinguishing the knowledge base of teaching lies at the
intersection of content and pedagogy in the teacher’s capacity to transform
content knowledge into forms that are
pedagogically powerful and yet adaptive to the variety of student abilities and
backgrounds. Comprehended ideas must be transformed in
some manner if they are to be taught. Transformations require some combination
or ordering of the following processes:
Preparation (of the given text
material), which includes the process of critical interpretation
Representation of the ideas in the form
of new analogies and metaphors (Teachers' knowledge, including
the way they speak about teaching, not only includes references to what
teachers “should” do, it also includes presenting the material by using
figurative language and metaphors [Glatthorn, 1990].)
Instructional selections from among an array of teaching methods and
Adaptation of student materials and
activities to reflect the characteristics of student learning styles
Tailoring the adaptations to the specific students in the
Glatthorn (1990) described this as the process of fitting the represented material
to the characteristics of the students. The teacher must consider the relevant
aspects of students’ ability, gender, language, culture, motivations, or prior
knowledge and skills that will affect their responses to different forms of
presentations and representations.
Instruction. Comprising the variety of teaching
acts, instruction includes many of the most
crucial aspects of pedagogy: management, presentations, interactions, group
work, discipline, humor, questioning, and discovery and inquiry instruction.
Evaluation. Teachers need to think about
testing and evaluation as an extension of instruction, not as separate from the
instructional process. The evaluation process includes checking for
understanding and misunderstanding during interactive teaching as well as
testing students’ understanding at the end of lessons or units. It also involves
evaluating one’s own performance and adjusting for different circumstances.
This process includes reviewing, reconstructing, reenacting, and critically analyzing one’s
own teaching abilities and then grouping these reflected explanations into
evidence of changes that need to be made to become a better teacher. This is
what a teacher does when he or she looks back at the teaching and learning that
has occurred–reconstructs, reenacts, and recaptures the events, the emotions,
and the accomplishments. Lucas (as
cited in Ornstein et al., 2000) argued that reflection is an important part
of professional development. All
teachers must learn to observe outcomes and determine the reasons for success
or failure. Through reflection, teachers focus on their concerns, come to better
understand their own teaching behavior, and help themselves or colleagues
improve as teachers. Through reflective practices in a group setting, teachers
learn to listen carefully to each other, which also gives them insight into
their own work (Ornstein et al., 2000).
Comprehension. Through acts of
teaching that are "reasoned" and "reasonable," the teacher
achieves new comprehension of the educational purposes, the subjects taught, the students, and
the processes of pedagogy themselves (Brodkey, 1986).
Students (the teacher’s audience)
are another important element for the teacher to consider while using a
pedagogical model. A skillful teacher
figures out what students know and believe about a topic and how learners are
likely to “hook into” new ideas. Teaching in ways that connect with students
also requires an understanding of differences that may arise from culture,
family experiences, developed intelligences, and approaches to learning.
Teachers need to build a foundation of pedagogical learner knowledge (Grimmet
& Mackinnon, 1992).
To help all students learn, teachers
need several kinds of knowledge about learning. They need to think about what
it means to learn different kinds of material for different purposes and how to
decide which kinds of learning are most necessary in different contexts.
Teachers must be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of different
learners and must have the knowledge to work with students who have specific
learning disabilities or needs. Teachers need to know about curriculum
resources and technologies to connect their students with sources of
information and knowledge that allow them to explore ideas, acquire and
synthesize information, and frame and solve problems. And teachers need to
know about collaboration–how to
structure interactions among students so that more powerful shared learning can
occur; how to collaborate with other teachers; and how to work with parents to
learn more about their children and to shape supportive experiences at school
and home (Shulman, 1992).
Acquiring this sophisticated knowledge and developing a
practice that is different from what teachers themselves experienced as
students, requires learning opportunities for teachers that are more powerful
than simply reading and talking about new pedagogical ideas (Ball & Cohen,
1996). Teachers learn best by studying, by doing and reflecting, by
collaborating with other teachers, by looking closely at students and their
work, and by sharing what they see.
This kind of learning cannot occur in college classrooms
divorced from practice or in school classrooms divorced from knowledge about
how to interpret practice. Good settings for teacher learning–in both
colleges and schools–provide lots of opportunities for research and inquiry,
for trying and testing, for talking about and evaluating the results of
learning and teaching. The combination of theory and practice (Miller &
Silvernail, 1994) occurs most productively when questions arise in the context
of real students and work in progress and where research and disciplined
inquiry are also at hand.
Darling-Hammond (1994) noted the
settings for such learning are appearing. More than 300 schools of education in
the United States have created programs that extend beyond the traditional
four-year bachelor’s degree program, providing both education and
subject-matter course work that is integrated with clinical training in
schools. Some are one or two year graduate programs for recent graduates or
midcareer recruits. (p. 6)
Others are five-year models for prospective teachers who
enter teacher education as undergraduates.
In either case, the fifth year allows students to focus exclusively on
the task of preparing to teach, with year-long, school-based internships linked
to course work on learning and teaching. Studies have found that graduates of
these extended programs are more satisfied with their preparation, and their
colleagues, principals, and cooperating teachers view them as better prepared.
Both university and school faculty plan and teach in these programs. Beginning
teachers get a more coherent learning experience when they are organized in
teams with these faculty and with one another. Senior teachers deepen their
knowledge by serving as mentors, adjunct faculty, co-researchers and teacher
leaders. Thus, these schools can help create the rub between theory and
practice, while creating more professional roles for teachers and constructing
knowledge that is more useful for both practice and ongoing theory building
If teachers investigate the effects of their teaching on
students’ learning and if they read about what others have learned, they
become sensitive to variation and more aware of what works for what purposes and
in what situations. Training in inquiry also helps teachers learn how to look
at the world from multiple perspectives and to use this knowledge to reach
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