Keeping it Real: Honoring the Complexity of Teachers’ Work in Efforts to Define, Study, and Promote Teaching Competences
Keynote 14 June 2018
Alicia C. Alonzo, Michigan State University, USA
Over the years, views of teaching competences have shifted: from a focus on individual teaching behaviors to a focus on knowledge and decision-making to a focus on the ”real” work of teaching. Across a number of research traditions, there is currently quite a bit of interest in the complexity of teaching and, thus, of teaching competences. While knowledge is certainly an important prerequisite, it does not guarantee that teachers will be able to manage the dynamic challenges of teaching practice. Thus, models of teaching competence now include ”situation-specific skills” and other ways of accounting for the work that teachers do in the moment of instruction. Such models acknowledge the context-specific nature of teachers’ practice, while also challenging the notion that teaching is completely personal and improvisational. In response, and in parallel, teacher educators have begun to articulate ”high leverage practices,” ways of representing the work of teaching that both recognize its complexity and make it accessible to novices. These efforts to define, study, and promote teaching competences have the potential to bridge some of the gap between practice, on the one hand, and research and teacher education, on the other.