Dialogue and Difference in a Teacher Education Program

A 16-Year Sociocultural Study of a Professional Development School

Marilyn Johnston-Parsons, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Published 2012

This book is a longitudinal study of a 10-year experimental teacher education program. Follow-up studies and writing continued for 6 years after the program closed. This case study describes a search for effective and socially just practices within a long-term reform initiative intended to prepare teachers for urban schools. The program was run through a Professional Development School--a collaboration between a university program and a diverse group of practicing teachers; and the book was written collaboratively by many of the participants—faculty, mentor teachers, doctoral students, and teacher candidates/graduates. There are few longitudinal studies of teacher education programs, especially ones that focus on what was learned and told by those who did the learning.

The narratives here are rich, diverse, and multivocal. They capture the complexity of a reform initiative conducted within a democratic context. It’s difficult, messy and as varied as is democracy itself. The program was framed by a sociocultural perspective and the focus was on learning through difference. Dialogue across difference, which is more than just talk, was both the method for doing research and the means for learning.

The program described here began in the ferment of teacher education reform in the early 1990s, responding to the critics of the mid-1980s; and this account of it is finished at a time when teacher education is again under attack from a different direction. Criticized earlier for being too progressive, teacher education is now seen as too conservative. The longitudinal results of this program show high retention rates and ground the argument that quality teacher preparation programs for teaching in urban schools may well be cost effective, as well as provide increased student learning. This is counter to the current move to shorten teacher preparation programs, at a time of low teacher retention in our under resourced urban schools. The book does not advocate a model for teacher education, but it aims to provide principles for practice that include school/university collaboration, democratic dialogue across differences, and inquiry as a way to guide reform.

Foreword, Jim Nolan, Jr. Preface. 1. About the Program: A Case Study of Teacher Education Reform, Marilyn Johnston-Parsons and Michael Thomas. 2. About the Research and Program Evaluation: Section 1: Research Happening Everywhere, Marilyn Johnston-Parsons. 3. About Theorizing our Practice: School/University Collaboration: A Sociocultural Perspective, Marilyn Johnston-Parsons. 4. About the Mentoring and Professional Development: Planning for the Interns, Mentor Teachers and Marilyn Johnston-Parsons. 5. About the University Teacher Education Reforms: Teaching the University Methods Courses: Building a Collaborative Culture, Marilyn Johnston-Parsons, Stephen Pape, Carrie Scheckelhoff, and Mike Thomas. 6. About the Doctoral Students: Boundary Spanners, The Doctoral Students With Marilyn Johnston-Parsons and Michael Thomas. Learning From Our PDS Experience, Mary Kathleen Barnes, Alberto Lopez-Carrasquillo, Mary Christenson, Denise Dallmer, Terrance Hubbard, Young Ah Lee, and Jennifer Dyer Sennette. 7. About the MEd Interns: Section One: Learning to Teach in Urban Schools: The Influence of the MEd Program, Learning to Teach in Urban Schools: The Influence of the MEd Program, Chien-Ni Chang, Marcie Hatfield, Elissa Mazer, and Olympia Coles Williams. 8. About the Quantitative Research Findings: What We Learned From the Postoprogram Survey, Stephen J. Pape, Chien-Ni Chang, and Marilyn Johnston-Parsons. 9. About the Qualitative Research Findings: What We Learned From Interviews With the Graduates, Jong-Hyun Lee, Chien-Ni Chang, and Marilyn Johnston-Parsons. 10. About Our Learning. Appendixes. About the Authors.

"This book will be invaluable for instructors, administrators, and policy developers in teacher education. Based on a 16-year study, it offers a comprehensive approach to effective pre-service programming. The diverse voices and many practical examples make it a pleasure to read. The program studied contains elements crucial for teacher preparation: an integrated program with clear priorities, community building within a cohort structure, careful selection of mentor teachers, and close liaison with placement schools. Extensive longitudinal study of teacher education is rare and allows for continuous refinement of a program and genuine assessment of its effectiveness. Marilyn Johnston-Parsons is a well-known scholar in both teacher education and the self-study of teacher education practices. Her particular forte - integrating theory and practice - paid dividends in the creation of an exemplary teacher education program from which we can all learn a great deal." Clare Kosnik & Clive Beck University of Toronto