Midtown Option Critical Inquiry Conference – Part II

On April 16, 2009, I delivered an invited presentation at the annual Critical Inquiry Conference  for the Midtown Option, a cohort in OISE/UT’s Initial Elementary Teacher Education Program. My talk, “Teacher inquiry:Learning in and from practice,” related some of my own experiences as a researcher in classrooms and schools.

Inquiry ought to be regarded as an integral part of the activity of teaching…and classrooms and schools ought to be treated as research sites. ( Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1993, pp. 63-64)

I tried to draw attention to the important role of inquiry as a way to learn from teaching, rather than a more contained image of learning for teaching that is expected to be completed within a short span of time (Darling-Hammond & Bransford, 2005).

One-year initial teacher education programs like the one in which the students in the audience are enrolled cover a lot of material to prepare them for classroom teaching, but my hope is that the students will engage in life-long professional learning reflecting on practice and changing when a particular pedagogical approach doesn’t work.

From some of the stellar student presentations Chris and I observed, I am hopeful. We were really impressed by one student who addressed an important educational problem, made sense of a complex data set, grounded the findings in the relevant literature, and displayed interesting findings clearly in graphs. The insightful analyses that this student presented were definitely of graduate level. However, what really set him apart was the way he could explain complex concepts in a way that was engaging and easy to understand. This ability suggests that he would be a great teacher. Later, Cathi and John confirmed that this student was amazing on his practicum placements as well. I hope he wins the junior-intermediate award!

I was also evaluating the students on the organization and delivery of their research. It seems I am an easier marker than Chris, but that in general, we were in agreement about overall grades. The students completed peer evaluations of each other. I wonder if their ratings are similar to ours. I suspect they are.


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