Their explicit conclusion: Expert teachers had "learned to teach" when, as novices, they reflected consistently upon their teaching experience and, with professional development guided by in-school "expert teachers" (but, more oftentimes than not, reflected alone by themselves), progressed through identifiable stages until they exhibited competence and, then, with more personalized, advanced professional development which they sought on their own, honed greater expertise.
Their implicit conclusion: Nothing taught in teacher education programs seemed to translate into good teaching. In short, school/colleges/departments of teacher education were woefully inadequate (and that's being kind) in preparing teachers for classrooms. Those teacher education programs required a complete overhaul. (The Motley Monk would say "dismantling.")
Believe it or not, despite the body of "learning to teach" literature, nothing much has changed in how most teachers are trained over the past three decades. To wit: Even the U.S. Secretary of Education has called those institutions the "Bermuda triangle of higher education." Think of all the taxpayers' money that has been sucked into that Bermuda triangle to improve teaching with little or nothing to show for it! Talk about malpractice!
In this volume, the Editor-in-Chief of the education news organization Chalkbeat, Elizabeth Green, provides examples of institutions and organizations that have overhauled teacher education, like the University of Michigan and the Match Teacher Residency. Green includes analysis of and discussion from others concerning why these institutions and organizations are experiencing success in forming good teachers as well as what these exemplars have achieved that should be replicated teacher education programs elsewhere.
Although Green doesn't detail the "learning to teach" perspective or its history, the contents of this volume provide insight into why this persepctive does work in developing competent and expert classroom teachers while at the same time funnelling out those who won't ever develop the competence required or excellence desired. More telling are the book's prescriptions, namely, what's required of teacher education programs if the learning to teach perspective is to transform teacher education and impact classroom teaching positively.
One way to envision the learning to teach perspective is to recall all of those parochial schools across the United States in the 1950s, many of which had 40-60 students crammed into them. Those students were taught by young nuns, many of whom had just finished high school and novitiate but hadn't attended college for one day. In short, they received ZERO "professional training" prior to entering those classrooms. Instead, those nuns were thrown directly into classrooms and instructed to "stay one chapter ahead of the students." By all professional standards, it was an experiment doomed to failure. However, those students didn't just graduate from Catholic grammar schools and high schools. Many went on to college. In the end, the experiment proved to be a great success, evident in the fact that Catholics progressed out of the lower- and middle- classes to take their place in America's economic mainstream by the 1960s.
The idea is not to replicate that particular experiment but to improve upon its "genius." Namely, that learning to teach involves integrating theory and practice through sustained reflection upon practice. A new teacher makes progress first, as a novice, then develops competence, and moves toward professional expertise not by earning A's in teacher education classes. Nor is teaching learned by teaching. No, teaching is learned by teaching real students in real classrooms and puzzling about how to do better as theory offers various options that can be tested out, implemented, tailored, or rejected until one develops a sufficient repertoire through several years of experience, reading, coaching, and reflection to know the right thing to do, in the right way, at the right time, and to the right student. That's expertise, and as Aristotle noted, it's laudable but not frequently demonstrated.
The Motley Monk highly recommends reading Elizabeth Green's volume, Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach It to Everyone). Then, attend local public school board meetings and agitate board members adopt the learning to teach perspective in the district's public schools...for the sake of the students.
Let the discussion begin...