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Urban Teaching Connection: Creating and Inquiring Through a Virtual Community of Practice
Unformatted Document Text:  explosion, urban practitioners must have a breadth and depth of content knowledge that exceeds that of previous generations. The site provides access to university faculty in key disciplines to support new teacher content expertise and development. Literature Review: While reflective practice (Schon, 1998) has been a key element of preservice training, the concept of forming communities of practice with beginning teachers to improve practice has not been incorporated into ongoing teacher development during induction and early teaching. Through participation in communities of practice (Wenger, 1998; Lave & Wenger, 1991, Raelin, 2001), researchers are documenting that the establishment of such cohorts allows for deeper examination of practice to provide ongoing transformative skill development. By utilizing propositional, practical and dialectic knowledge (Gimmett, et. al, 1990; Sanders and McCuetcheon, 1986) gained through participation with a broad range of experienced practitioners, new practitioners can reorganize and reconstruct their experience to understand the assumptions on which they base their practice. This allows practitioners to identify not only the “what” and “how” of their practice, but the deeper level of “why”, why they espouse certain practices and the validity of those practice assumptions. Using Loughran’s (1996) concept of reflection, the site has been designed so that new teachers can experience anticipatory reflection opportunities as they access resources and pose questions prior to lesson planning. The site also allows for retrospective reflective opportunities as participants process with peers and experienced colleagues their assumptions about teaching and learning. The virtual community enables teachers to share collectively successes and challenges. It is anticipated that this forum for guided collective reflection will increase a new practitioner’s ability to reflect contemporaneously in the moment. Much like Schon’s (1983) “reflection –in – action”, through on-going modeling and mentoring, new practitioners will develop the ability to reframe unanticipated problems in order to quickly respond in a different manner than planned. This richness of understanding practice is a life-long process if one is to change and grow as a professional. Equally important to address is the current generation’s shift in learning style and knowledge acquisition (Howe & Strauss, 2000; Sandfort & Haworth, 2005). Previous generations came to higher education seeking information and facts, today’s generation is more interested in action learning and results (Golden, 2003). This factor goes to the very heart of methodology; instruction delivery, knowledge acquisition, and deep learning are no longer bounded by physical location. The introduction of the internet into the teaching learning dynamic has broadened the classroom walls. The UTC provides an internet based instructional model that will be in harmony with evolving learning styles of new practitioners. Contributions and Relevance: The UTC site will contribute to the literature helping to answer a number of key questions in Strand 1. The UTC serves as a repository for rich data collection regarding the questions and challenges new urban teachers face as they transition from a student model to a beginning practitioner model. Through a site tracking mechanism and registration of site registrants, data are gathered around the induction of new practitioners. By providing a virtual community that is carefully designed to match the learning style of future teachers, we hope to provide and measure the impact of this method on development and retention during the critical first years of teaching, especially those participants from urban sites. Via registration to the site and internal counters, the site tracks “hits” on the various community/connection/competency elements on the UTC website. The elements of the site that 2

Authors: Cokely, Micky. and Qualters, Donna.
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explosion, urban practitioners must have a breadth and depth of content knowledge that exceeds
that of previous generations. The site provides access to university faculty in key disciplines to
support new teacher content expertise and development.
Literature Review:
While reflective practice (Schon, 1998) has been a key element of preservice training, the concept
of forming communities of practice with beginning teachers to improve practice has not been
incorporated into ongoing teacher development during induction and early teaching. Through
participation in communities of practice (Wenger, 1998; Lave & Wenger, 1991, Raelin, 2001),
researchers are documenting that the establishment of such cohorts allows for deeper examination
of practice to provide ongoing transformative skill development. By utilizing propositional,
practical and dialectic knowledge (Gimmett, et. al, 1990; Sanders and McCuetcheon, 1986)
gained through participation with a broad range of experienced practitioners, new practitioners
can reorganize and reconstruct their experience to understand the assumptions on which they base
their practice. This allows practitioners to identify not only the “what” and “how” of their
practice, but the deeper level of “why”, why they espouse certain practices and the validity of
those practice assumptions.
Using Loughran’s (1996) concept of reflection, the site has been designed so that
new teachers
can experience anticipatory reflection opportunities as they access resources and pose questions
prior to lesson planning. The site also allows for retrospective reflective opportunities as
participants process with peers and experienced colleagues their assumptions about teaching and
learning. The virtual community enables teachers to share collectively successes and challenges.
It is anticipated that this forum for guided collective reflection will increase a new practitioner’s
ability to reflect contemporaneously in the moment. Much like Schon’s (1983) “reflection –in –
action”, through on-going modeling and mentoring, new practitioners will develop the ability to
reframe unanticipated problems in order to quickly respond in a different manner than planned.
This richness of understanding practice is a life-long process if one is to change and grow as a
professional.
Equally important to address is the current generation’s shift in learning style and knowledge
acquisition (Howe & Strauss, 2000; Sandfort & Haworth, 2005). Previous generations came to
higher education seeking information and facts, today’s generation is more interested in action
learning and results (Golden, 2003). This factor goes to the very heart of methodology;
instruction delivery, knowledge acquisition, and deep learning are no longer bounded by physical
location. The introduction of the internet into the teaching learning dynamic has broadened the
classroom walls. The UTC provides an internet based instructional model that will be in
harmony with evolving learning styles of new practitioners.
Contributions and Relevance:
The UTC site will contribute to the literature helping to answer a number of key questions in
Strand 1. The UTC serves as a repository for rich data collection regarding the questions and
challenges new urban teachers face as they transition from a student model to a beginning
practitioner model. Through a site tracking mechanism and registration of site registrants, data
are gathered around the induction of new practitioners. By providing a virtual community that is
carefully designed to match the learning style of future teachers, we hope to provide and measure
the impact of this method on development and retention during the critical first years of teaching,
especially those participants from urban sites.
Via registration to the site and internal counters, the site tracks “hits” on the various
community/connection/competency elements on the UTC website. The elements of the site that
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