As HGSE prepares to launch its Teaching and Teacher Leadership (TTL) Program, faculty co-chair Heather Hill, the Hazen-Nicoli Professor of Teacher Learning and Leadership, discusses how its innovative approach will impact the profession of teaching.
What will be distinctive about TTL’s approach to teacher education, from your point of view?
We use a practice-based approach to teacher education, keeping theory and novices’ skill development in tight dialogue with one another. It’s also a program designed for coherence. Rather than each faculty member going off and teaching on their own, TTL uses 21 indicators of teacher proficiency, and makes sure that every session of every course centers around improving novice teachers’ performance on one or more of those indicators.
Tell us about the “teaching education laboratory” within the TTL Program — what does the TTL program seek to learn about teacher preparation?
Three things. First, we hope to answer some specific questions — for instance, whether teaching rehearsals help novices learn to engage students in disciplinary thinking. Second, we hope to set an example for how a school of education can really commit to asking central questions to our practice — and answering those questions using convincing evidence. Third, we hope to create a network of schools of education doing this work with us by supporting others interested in taking this journey.
How can the field of education benefit from this new knowledge?
The current evidence base in teacher education is pretty thin — a lot of case studies of different approaches, but little convincing evidence that those approaches work better than standard teacher education practice, or better than students not getting even the standard approach (as they would in an alternative credentialling program, for instance). So this is a start on getting the field moving toward asking those kinds of comparative questions, and establishing an evidence base for educating teachers.