Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Urban Teacher Education: Making a Case for Context-Specific Preparation

The literature on preparing teachers for urban schools provides a rationale for helping candidates understand the particular cultures of students. However, research has not sufficiently “unpacked” features of the setting that programs can address; nor has it discussed how programs tailor teaching approaches to their specific contexts.

Drawing from program descriptions, syllabi, and interviews, this article describes the “context-specific” approach of the University of Chicago Urban Teacher Education Program that prepares teachers for Chicago Public Schools and ways that it helps candidates make meaning of that setting. The article presents a framework to show how the program defines and then teaches as content essential knowledge about a district and its children—including community and neighborhood histories, district curricula, and policies—that must inform teaching and learning.

The article includes examples of context-specific teacher preparation that illustrate how candidates learn about particularities of Chicago Public Schools and apply this knowledge to develop context-specific understandings and practices.

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