My midwestern peep Jenny D just sent me a great study. Basically, a research team swarms through New York City. They examine a bunch of elementary teachers who come from all sorts of prep backgrounds: Ed Schools, Teach For America, NY Teaching Fellows, etc.
They look at stuff (classes, readings, discussions, simulations) which happens before the teacher actually runs the show.
Despite dramatic variation in possible pathways into teaching, the programs we studied are remarkably similar in terms of their curriculum.
In surveys, the TFA teachers reported having had "more opportunities to learn" classroom management and setting norms. The Ed School folks got more psychology theory. But mostly, they found similarity. Why?
Here's your new term of the day:
Institutional isomorphism focuses on the ways in which organizations within a field develop startling homogeneity in terms of their formal structure over time.
If we were satisfied with the current preparation of teachers for urban schools, the lack of innovation might not be as critical. But given the sharp criticisms of teacher education, we might want to encourage true alternatives, programs that are both freed to experiment and held accountable for tracking their impact on teachers and students over time.
Given this press toward institutional isomorphism, how might we take advantage of the changing landscape of teacher education to create fundamental change in the preparation of teachers for urban schools?
Exactly. i-i isn't just paralyzing Ed Schools. It affects many institutions. The article describes why i-i has such a chokehold in teacher prep, however, some unique aspects.
As a brand new Ed School trying to break the mold, we not only need to recognize i-i, we need some sort of structural bulwark against it! But what?
Otherwise seems likely that i-i will eat us, too.
I'm going to see one of the article's authors, Susanna Loeb, at a conference in February. Got to buy her some joe and download her brain. Heck, she's got a degree in engineering! Those people are mad practical.