Doctoral Specialization in Teacher Education: Why and What


Why a Doctoral Specialization?

What teacher educators do (and fail to do, and might do), is critically important in raising up new teachers, and in supporting experienced teachers, particularly when our concern is for teachers committed to and capable of furthering educational justice inside the classroom. The importance of high quality teacher education, focused both on the near and the long term, is especially pronounced today, when the demands (legitimate and illegitimate alike) on teachers are so great.

However, the quality of teacher education in the US varies greatly, across and within colleges, universities, and other providers. While some superb work is being accomplished, too much of what is done in our field is ultimately inadequate to the rights and needs of children and young people and those who teach them. Meanwhile, the contexts (structural, political, socio-cultural, intellectual) in which teacher education is undertaken are changing, and likely to continue changing.

Nonetheless, the professional education of teacher educators themselves is often a hit and miss affair. For too many novice teacher educators, it is closer to an accidental, sometimes lonely, process, rather than to the deliberate formation of a professional identity based on deep understanding of the terrain, skilled and judicious practice, habits of disciplined inquiry, and a strong sense of purpose.

TC, through the Teachers College Transformation Initiative (TCTI), aims to be a leader in giving the education of teacher educators the attention it deserves, starting here at home. We believe such an education demands an approach that is both deliberate and adventurous. We are committed as well to sustained study of its processes and results. At the center of the work is an understanding that the education of teachers is both an urgent responsibility and a rich field for further development and research. We are informed by the understanding that there are extant traditions and varieties of knowledge, inquiry, and practice in teacher education and teacher learning that demand study and deserve to be better known. However, while we are interested in conservation where that is warranted, our stance is critical and our larger ambition is transformative.

During 2014 – 15, the College’s Sachs Lectures and the Department of Curriculum and Teaching sponsored the “Landscape for Preparing Teacher Educators” lecture and colloquium series, which brought into high relief much of the relevant structural, political, and intellectual context for this initiative. Please see videos of the talks presented by our distinguished guests, and samples of their scholarly work.

Now, as a next step, the Department of Curriculum and Teaching is pleased to announce the launching of the new doctoral level
Specialization in Teacher Education.
Qualified students may elect the specialization effective September 2015. 
Please see How to Declare the Specialization for details.

What’s in the Specialization? An overview

The specialization comprises a set of five courses intended to be taken over two years. The course work delves into the terrain of learning to teach, its contexts, its cultivation, and the enterprise of teacher education itself. Guided practice in teacher education and in empirical study of learning to teach are essential features of the specialization. For more detail, please see The Specialization in Detail.

Who is it for?

The Teacher Education Specialization is designed primarily for students wishing to focus professionally on teacher education, at any level and in any of a multitude of contexts, as practitioners and as scholars. The history, theory, practice, design, evaluation, governance, and prospects of teacher education, both as it is connected to professional licensure and independent of licensure, are all at issue in this focus, but prospective students should be mindful that the chief mission of the specialization is the professional preparation of teacher educator/scholars–and mindful, too, that transformation of the field is an over-arching aim.

Concretely, the specialization is suitable for doctoral candidates who have successfully completed one year of doctoral study at TC, who have some prior experience teaching (P – 12), and who secure advisor approval.

To learn more about the specialization, please see The Specialization in Detail, and reach out to a specialization faculty member (see How to Contact Us) for conversation if you wish. If you are ready to choose the specialization, please see How to Declare the Specialization.


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