The book offers concrete and specific suggestions for improving teacher education programs, including improved strategies for selection into the program; key ingredients for pre-service course work; courses that emphasis skill development in critical areas of teaching practice and more effective evaluation of student teaching that emphasizes professional development.
Selma Wassermann has long and extensive experience with teacher education programs and is a founding member of the innovative Professional Development Program at Simon Fraser University. She is the author of more than 20 books and articles about teacher education, including Mastering the Art of Teaching (Rowman & Littlefield, 2021), This Teaching Life (Teachers College Press, 2004), and “Changing Course: Re-thinking Teacher Education Course Design” (Childhood Education, 2017).
Preface: The harpsichord theory of learning to teach
Introduction: What’s wrong with teacher education?
Chapter 1: Where do we start?
Chapter 2: Connecting means with ends
Chapter 3: To Know, to understand, and to know how: a theoretical framework
Chapter 4: Some Radical Ideas
Part II: Developing Competence
Chapter 5: Introduction to Part II
Chapter 6: Developing Competence: Kids: Learning to observe, diagnose and deal with individual behavior
Chapter 7: Developing Competence: Teacher-Student Interactions
Chapter 8: Developing Competence: The teacher as curriculum maker
Chapter 9: Developing Competence: Student teaching
Chapter 10: In retrospect
Too often, preservice teachers passively learn all the right stuff of teaching, preached to them by professors in lecture mode, arming them with the knowledge of what good teachers do, but without understanding how to apply what they know. Dr. Wassermann makes the compelling case that, from the outset, teachers in training need to learn the way they want their students to learn, by observing, analysing and applying what they know, through activities that require them to test their knowledge, figure out what went wrong, and find their own solutions. Dr. Selma Wassermann is the quintessential master of teaching for thinking. A decade after I began my teaching career, I was fortunate enough to have been one of her students at Simon Fraser University and to have experienced, first hand, this transformative learning paradigm.
Many students of teaching will already be very familiar with the numerous contributions of Professor Wassermann to the canon on teaching teachers. But it will be no surprise to find that this new book is still filled with freshly inspiring yet practical advice and encouragement which is certain to encourage best practice.
Selma Wassermann’s “Bold Alternative” to typical Teacher Education programs is a must read for Faculty of Ed. decision makers. She provides a clear rationale for “Some Radical Ideas”, within the context of telling the story of the beginnings of SFU’s non-traditional approach to Teacher Education, which includes beginning with introductory student teaching; connecting the goals of preservice education with the means, focusing on developing competence and using a pass/withdraw system to evaluate practice teaching. The book is also a rich resource for Faculty of Ed. Profs who teach and supervise student teachers, encouraging them to re-think and re-frame their course structure to embed them in Rath’s Teaching for Thinking paradigm. Selma’s numerous examples of how this might be implemented makes it clear that this book is written by a master teacher.
Form follows function...the shape of a program depends on its purpose. Only when the purpose is clearly understood by all can the program be properly formed. Wasserman makes a compelling case for adopting this approach to construct a truly effective model for pre-service teacher education—one that focuses on moving prospective teachers “from knowing, to understanding, to knowing how.” If you are leafing through this book start with Chapter Four. It will alter your whole perspective on how to radically and realistically change our current teacher education paradigm.
If there is one area of education most in need of reform, it's teacher education, and Selma Wassermann is just the person to propose prescriptive measures for its overhaul. Drawing on a long career spanning elementary and university classrooms to university educational administration, she's gained valuable perspectives that she presents here in clear and concise language. Examining the research on teacher education programs, she offers reasons why they fail and ways to remedy their defects. She emphasizes teaching for empathy, respect, thinking, questioning, all while helping students progress from knowing to understanding to knowing how. Starting students with a brief classroom internship will appear radical to many, but one I found most sensible. Teacher education needs shaking up, and this is the book to do it. I believe this is your most important and influential book, and I hope it is widely read and its recommendations applied.