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Giving Voice to Watercooler Conversations: Teacher Educators Speak about Standards
Unformatted Document Text:  AACTE 2006 Submission Grouped Paper Presentation Title: Giving Voice to Watercooler Conversations: Teacher Educators Speak about Standards Section I: Content Statement of the Issue Watercooler conversations among teacher educators in these days of rapidly morphing landscapes include anxious comments about the need to do better job sat several things simultaneously: bolster student’s multicultural skills, master and model the various technologies pre-service teachers require, form viable partnerships with PK-12 schools, and safeguard the role of public education in a democracy.(Eifer, Potthof, & Dinsmore, 2004, p. 91) The standards movement has had far reaching implications for the PK-16 community in an era of increasing school accountability. Yet, while there is ongoing public debate pertaining to the accountability movement in general, we find ourselves wondering why the voices of teacher educators, specifically, are confined to this metaphorical watercooler. The literature is relatively silent on the matter of how standards have impacted their professional lives and practice. Little is known about the private deliberations of teacher educators. In fact, Ducharme’s 1993 assertion rings true over a decade later, “Education faculty are rarely the subject of sustained study, teacher education faculty even more rarely so” (p.2). We sought to address that omission by engaging in conversations with thirteen teacher educators from one public institution. We asked them to describe what they viewed as the major influences of the standards movement on their practice. As we listened to how our colleagues constructed their understanding of the issues and continued our dialogue in relation to those individual understandings, five general narratives about standards and teacher education began to take shape. We do not present the narratives as “knowledge claims” (Clandinin and Connelly, 2000), but rather as discursive explorations of five general areas that teacher educators, including the authors, address when they consider standards and their work. Literature Review Concerns about teacher quality have turned the public focus to teacher education programs, provoking a level of unprecedented and highly politicized discourse regarding what teachers should know and be able to do. Although the discourse regarding the preparation of teachers has been controversial (Cochran-Smith & Fries, 2001), state and federal policymakers have rapidly altered the conduct of the education profession through the institution of alternative certification options, new program approval requirements for teacher preparation programs, new definitions of teacher quality, and high-stakes testing. Standards have deep roots within teacher education programs. The American Association of Teachers Colleges was established in 1927 (Kraft, 2001), followed later in 1954 by the establishment of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education [NCATE]. This organization offered the first rigorous teacher preparation standards in conjunction with procedures to measure institutional quality. NCATE now 1

Authors: Bishop, Penny., Brinegar, Kathleen., Patrizio, Kami. and Tarule, Jill.
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AACTE 2006 Submission
Grouped Paper Presentation
Title: Giving Voice to Watercooler Conversations: Teacher Educators Speak about
Standards
Section I: Content
Statement of the Issue
Watercooler conversations among teacher educators in these days of
rapidly morphing landscapes include anxious comments about the need to
do better job sat several things simultaneously: bolster student’s
multicultural skills, master and model the various technologies pre-service
teachers require, form viable partnerships with PK-12 schools, and
safeguard the role of public education in a democracy.
(Eifer, Potthof, & Dinsmore, 2004, p. 91)
The standards movement has had far reaching implications for the PK-16
community in an era of increasing school accountability. Yet, while there is ongoing
public debate pertaining to the accountability movement in general, we find ourselves
wondering why the voices of teacher educators, specifically, are confined to this
metaphorical watercooler. The literature is relatively silent on the matter of how
standards have impacted their professional lives and practice. Little is known about the
private deliberations of teacher educators. In fact, Ducharme’s 1993 assertion rings true
over a decade later, “Education faculty are rarely the subject of sustained study, teacher
education faculty even more rarely so” (p.2).
We sought to address that omission by engaging in conversations with thirteen
teacher educators from one public institution. We asked them to describe what they
viewed as the major influences of the standards movement on their practice. As we
listened to how our colleagues constructed their understanding of the issues and
continued our dialogue in relation to those individual understandings, five general
narratives about standards and teacher education began to take shape. We do not present
the narratives as “knowledge claims” (Clandinin and Connelly, 2000), but rather as
discursive explorations of five general areas that teacher educators, including the authors,
address when they consider standards and their work.
Literature Review
Concerns about teacher quality have turned the public focus to teacher education
programs, provoking a level of unprecedented and highly politicized discourse regarding
what teachers should know and be able to do. Although the discourse regarding the
preparation of teachers has been controversial (Cochran-Smith & Fries, 2001), state and
federal policymakers have rapidly altered the conduct of the education profession through
the institution of alternative certification options, new program approval requirements for
teacher preparation programs, new definitions of teacher quality, and high-stakes testing.
Standards have deep roots within teacher education programs. The American
Association of Teachers Colleges was established in 1927 (Kraft, 2001), followed later in
1954 by the establishment of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher
Education [NCATE]. This organization offered the first rigorous teacher preparation
standards in conjunction with procedures to measure institutional quality. NCATE now
1


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