Sunday, April 11, 2010

From Teacher to Student: The value of teacher education for experienced teachers

Kunzman, Robert. “From Teacher to Student: The value of teacher education for experienced teachers.” Journal of Teacher Education, 54 (3), May/June 2003, 241-253.

The author examines teachers in STEP (Stanford Teacher Education Program) who had prior experience in the classroom, and observes that 5 themes emerge from the interviews: 1) a greater awareness of struggling students; 2) deeper understanding of curriculum development; 3) importance of collaboration amongst colleagues; 4) importance of feedback and more structured reflections; 5) broader pedagogical understanding to support more connections to issues outside of the classroom.

He concludes with support for training experiences that value classroom experiences, but also places those experience within a community that is intellectually stimulating, with opportunities for reflection, feedback and collaboration.

His methods for his study include 75-minute interviews of 27 STEP graduates from 1999-2000 with significant teaching experience prior to entering the program (1 academic semester, experiences ranged with average of over 2 years full-time). Interviews were conducted, fixed question and then variable, primary areas of inquiry involved teaching perspective prior to STEP, their year of STEP study, and first year back after STEP. Afterward, analysis involved the iterative process where comments were grouped or clustered into 34 categories, conceptual clustering and then open coding in order to generate a series of potential themes related to learning experiences that were considering significant to the teachers’ development as practitioners.


The conclusions are well-situated within the context of the research findings. This article provides a clear window into the minds of ongoing teacher education. The author references the interviews often, using direct quotations. He comments solely on the themes that emerged, and this helps to guide the direction of how teacher education should improve. His final conclusion, that experience alone is not enough, is substantiated through the comments teachers made on the value of the program.


“To say that one learns from experience—one of the most basic beliefs of teachers –does not mean that more experience by itself results in improved teaching… If this were the case, the teacher with the most years of teaching would inevitably be the best instructor.” (Alan Tom, 1999)

“A profession with so many layers deserves a comprehensive and thoughtfully structured program of preparation, one that recognizes the value of classroom experience but situates it in an intellectually rigorous context of reflection, feedback and collaboration."

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