Harvard Educational Review
  1. Fall 2005 Issue »

    Editor's Review of The Teaching Career, edited by John I. Goodlad and Timothy J. McMannon

    Morgaen L. Donaldson
    New York: Teachers College Press, 2004. 224 pp. $54.00 (cloth), $24.95 (paper).


    “We pay a severe price for our neglect of the teaching career,” John Goodlad observes in the opening chapter of The Teaching Career. This sober pronouncement by Goodlad, one of the nation’s foremost commentators on teaching and schools, is echoed by recent research. From various perspectives, studies highlight the declining quality of teachers in U.S. schools (Ballou & Podgursky, 1997) and the lack of rigor in the programs that have prepared them (Steiner & Rozen, 2004). Compared to previous decades, the teaching career currently attracts fewer graduates of selective colleges and fewer people with high scores on standardized tests (Corcoran, Evans, & Schwab, 2004; Murnane, Singer, Willett, Kemple, & Olsen, 1991). Of those who do choose to enter classrooms, many do not stay; as many as 50 percent of new teachers leave the profession within five years (Ingersoll & Smith, 2003). In The Teaching Career, Goodlad, his coeditor Timothy McMannon, and a range of practitioners and researchers seek ways to influence the rebuilding of early teaching careers in order to retain and develop good teachers.

    The Teaching Career has two main purposes. First, it makes the case that the early teaching career must be reconceptualized. Traditionally, the teaching career has been flat and undifferentiated, offering teachers few opportunities to change roles or responsibilities over their career (Lortie, 1975). Contributors to this collection argue for a graduated entry into the profession and the provision of special supports and opportunities through teachers’ fifth year in the classroom. The second purpose of The Teaching Career is to examine the conditions under which restructuring of the early teaching career may successfully take place. In this venture, the book explores the Strengthening and Sustaining Teachers (SST) initiative, a five-year project in Portland, Maine, and Seattle, Washington, that “aims to build sustainable systems of support for teachers . . . from their preservice education programs through their fifth year in teaching” (p. vii). This book proposes that restructuring the early teaching career requires schools, districts, unions, and schools of education to work together and in new ways. Due to space limitations, this review focuses in depth on the book’s first purpose: revamping the experience of teachers early in their career. It examines how contributors would change teacher education, induction, and career development through the sixth year of teaching.

    Reforming the Early Teaching Career

    Teaching is one of the few professions in which a worker traditionally performs the same core set of tasks on her first day on the job as on her last (Lortie, 1975). Until recently, new teachers, despite their struggles (see, e.g., Veenman, 1984), were rarely given reduced assignments or coordinated support. On the contrary, they sometimes were given the most difficult teaching assignments: for example, those requiring more preparation in the secondary grades, a grade at which state-mandated tests were administered, or an assignment that required travel between classrooms or schools (Johnson & Project on the Next Generation of Teachers, 2004). Moreover, with the exception of tenure, teachers have historically had few benchmarks and little recognition to which to aspire (Lortie, 1975). And, although they often share social time with colleagues and sometimes work with them on curriculum and planning, a teacher’s work life, whether novice or veteran, has been stubbornly solitary (Huberman, 1989; Johnson, 1990; Kardos, 2004; Lortie, 1975).

    On a broad level, The Teaching Career argues that key stakeholders must break these traditions and start to restructure the early teaching career with a focus on preparing, supporting, and retaining early career teachers in schools that are oriented toward teachers learning together. As McMannon explains, “Rather than accepting high attrition rates as an unavoidable part of the teaching profession . . . we should take steps to ensure that new teachers remain in the profession by giving them not only adequate preservice teacher education but also sufficient personal and professional support in the first few years” (p. xi). According to McMannon and other contributors, this means questioning long-held assumptions about the teaching career that influence how we organize teacher education, induction, and career development. Specifically, this book argues that districts’ and schools’ traditional laissez-faire stance toward the early career of teachers has not served students, schools, or new teachers well. The contributors propose that the education, induction, and career development of early career teachers should instead form a continuum, sown and tended through the joint efforts of schools, universities, and teachers unions.

    Teacher Education

    In chapter two, John Goodlad explores the “troubled enterprise” of teacher education, a subject he has examined extensively in past works, such as Places Where Teachers Are Taught (Goodlad, Soder, & Sirotnik, 1990). In the broader literature, teacher education has been critiqued for lacking consistent rigor (Leal, 2004; Steiner & Rozen, 2004), for neglecting to prepare student teachers to use culturally relevant pedagogy (Ladson-Billings, 2001), and, ultimately, for failing to produce gains in student achievement (Ballou & Podgursky, 2000). Teacher education has also become hotly contested, with some arguing that it should be phased out and replaced, if at all, with a brief preparation program (see, e.g., Ballou & Podgursky, 2000), and others defending teacher education’s essential role in the teaching career (see, e.g., Darling-Hammond, 2000).

    Recognizing the criticisms and the politicization of teacher education, both warranted and unwarranted, Goodlad’s analysis leads him to conclude that teacher education has generally been, in his words, “casual.” Goodlad observes that teacher education has failed to recruit promising new teachers (especially teachers of color), has suffered from incoherent admissions policies and programs of study, has failed to require candidates to acquire a strong content background and an understanding of cognition, and has neglected to involve university faculty consistently in the student-teaching experience. Goodlad argues that schools of education and others who oversee teacher education must become much more deliberate about creating opportunities for student teachers to immerse themselves in learning how to teach their subjects and their students.

    Building on some of his previous work, Goodlad posits a rebirth of teacher education based on stronger connections between the programs that prepare teachers and the schools in which these teachers learn to teach, both as a student teacher and a new teacher. This rebirth is founded on the renewal of individuals (i.e., student teachers, teachers, teacher educators) and institutions (i.e., schools and universities). The first step of such renewal, according to Goodlad, is more purposeful recruitment of new teachers, particularly candidates of color. Second, Goodlad argues that teacher education programs must be more deliberate about specifying criteria for program admission. Third, he states that better partnerships between schools and universities must be built. Key to this effort is the designation of “teaching schools,” similar to teaching hospitals in the medical profession, where student teachers can immerse themselves in learning to teach. Goodlad also argues for “centers of pedagogy,” located at universities, where research on good teaching and sound school practices is conducted, collected, and disseminated. These centers aim to “strengthen teacher education and public school practice simultaneously” (p. 39) by bringing together new and experienced teachers and researchers to study teaching. Montclair State in New Jersey and the University of Texas–El Paso have already adopted this model with some success, Goodlad reports.

    Goodlad argues that teacher education must be more deliberate and rigorous. It must reflect greater collaboration within and among universities and schools. Education faculty must work with liberal arts and sciences faculty. Cooperating teachers must coordinate with each other at the school site. Links between programs and schools must intensify so that substantive conversations about teaching and learning that bridge research and practice may take place. Goodlad is sanguine that changes will occur. Given the increasing criticism aimed at teacher education and the elevated focus on teacher quality, he observes that “over the past decade, it has been almost impossible for teacher-preparing settings to escape the stirrings towards necessary change” (p. 25).

    However, unlike other scholars who focus exclusively on teacher education, Goodlad and his fellow authors believe that strengthening the teaching profession requires that renewal efforts reach well into teachers’ early careers. As Goodlad notes, “The point of most serious disjuncture in the teaching career is that of suddenly becoming ‘teacher’ and no longer ‘teacher to be.’ For some it is the realization of a dream, for some others a nightmare become real” (p. 39). Goodlad compares the change from student teacher to autonomous teacher to a child’s movement from preschool to kindergarten: “Neither transition is given the caring, understanding, supportive attention it deserves” (p. 39). As such, Goodlad and his fellow authors argue for a continuum that follows student teachers into their early years on the job and offers them support in the form of induction.

    Induction

    Induction is a program of supports for new teachers that often includes orientation and mentoring. In the best cases, induction includes support in the form of regular courses that help new teachers master components of their job, such as classroom management and curricular design, and regular opportunities to observe and collaborate with colleagues (Smith & Ingersoll, 2004).

    A growing body of research documents the struggles of new teachers (Feiman-Nemser, 1983; Johnson & Project on the Next Generation, 2004; Johnson, Kardos, Kauffman, Liu, & Donaldson, 2004; Veenman, 1984) and their high attrition and mobility rates (Hanushek, Kain, & Rivkin, 2004; Murnane et al., 1991; Smith & Ingersoll, 2004). Yet programs aimed at supporting new teachers are relatively new to the teaching profession; before the early 1990s, systematic attempts to support and retain early career teachers were fairly rare (Smith & Ingersoll, 2004). Aided by a labor market that offered educated female teachers and teachers of color few alternatives to the classroom (see, e.g., Corcoran et al., 2004), schools and districts did not have to work especially hard to retain teachers. In the 1980s, when labor market options opened up for women and people of color, schools did not have to worry about how to retain early career teachers; compared to previous decades, there were relatively few such teachers in their classrooms to retain (Whiting & National Education Association, 2003).

    Teaching’s traditional norms of socialization may have reinforced schools’ laissez-faire attitude toward teacher career development. As Lortie (1975), Huberman (1989), and others have observed, teachers have long been solo practitioners who succeed or fail on their own. Following the logic underlying this norm, it was easy to attribute early career teachers’ failure to withstand their first few years in teaching to their own inadequacies (Feiman-Nemser, 1983; Lortie, 1975). It is only in the past ten to fifteen years, when reports of teacher shortages (see, e.g., Fideler, Foster, & Schwartz, 2000; Kantrowitz & Wingert, 2000) and high turnover among novices (see, e.g., Ingersoll & Smith, 2003; Merrow, 1999) drew national attention that schools and districts have become seriously concerned. During this time, mentoring and induction, the two most prominent types of new teacher support, have expanded quickly. Since the early 1990s, the number of induction programs in the United States has doubled, and 80 percent of all new teachers participate in these programs today (Smith & Ingersoll, 2004). Mentoring is also comparably widespread (Smith & Ingersoll, 2004). While these numbers are impressive, it is important to note that they reveal little about the quality of the programs. Feiman-Nemser (2001) found that the definition and quality of mentoring varied widely.

    The Teaching Career positions mentoring and induction as vital parts of the restructured early teaching career it proposes and, as with its approach to teacher education, the book proposes new ways of carrying out induction. In the most direct articulation of a new approach, Daniel Katz and Sharon Feiman-Nemser ask the novel questions, “While formal induction programs matter, is it possible to treat beginning teachers as learners if their learning is solely the province of one-on-one mentoring? Who else needs to take responsibility for beginning teachers and their development?” (p. 99). In their chapter “New Teacher Induction in a Culture of Professional Development,” Katz and Feiman-Nemser report on their earlier research on new teachers’ experiences in three well-regarded induction programs: the Santa Cruz New Teacher Project, the Cincinnati Peer Assistance and Evaluation Program, and the New Haven, Connecticut, site of that state’s Beginning Teacher Support and Training program. Katz and Feiman-Nemser find that one-on-one mentoring, often the only support schools offer new teachers (Smith & Ingersoll, 2004), is inadequate. The authors explain:

    Induction does not occur in a vacuum. . . . In New Haven, for example, we found beginning teachers whose mentors did not work in the same subject area or building. These arrangements prevented significant mentoring from occurring . . . [and] for all the strengths of mentoring in Santa Cruz, some new teachers in our sample struggled to make meaningful contact with colleagues in their own buildings. (p. 109)

    Thus, Katz and Feiman-Nemser find that mentoring and induction work best when embedded within an overall system of support that involves multiple colleagues in helping new teachers develop their practice. This argument, that many if not most colleagues should support new teachers, is an unusual proposition, although one that is buttressed by findings from other studies (see, e.g., Kardos, 2004).

    Katz and Feiman-Nemser break further ground by arguing that induction provides valuable professional development for the experienced teachers who lend their support to novices. While some district leaders may view induction as a pragmatic intervention to stem the flow of new teachers out of classrooms and the profession, the contributors to this book frame such initiatives as strategies to build communities of practice in addition to providing much-needed support to new teachers. As Katz and Feiman-Nemser write, “The promise of new teacher induction lies not only in easing the transition into teaching and breaking down the isolation that separates teachers, but also in providing the conditions for teacher development” (p. 100).

    Career Development

    Beyond teacher education and induction, the authors of The Teaching Career maintain that schools and districts must take a more purposeful approach to supporting teachers’ development through their fifth year. While scholars, practitioners, and policymakers have deliberated over teacher education and, more recently, induction, to my knowledge there has been little systematic consideration of how to support teachers after their first or second year. For this reason, Sheldon Berman’s chapter, “Effective Recruitment and Induction into the School District,” is notable. Berman, who is superintendent of the Hudson, Massachusetts, public schools, describes his district’s approach to recruiting promising candidates and sustaining them in the classroom. Unlike many districts, Hudson’s takes a proactive approach not only to support novices, but also to help second- through fifth-year teachers develop their practice. These efforts stem from Berman’s observation that “talented teachers will not last long in a culture that undermines or is neutral to their needs and interests, leaves them isolated, or fails to promote their growth” (p. 118).

    Berman’s statement is corroborated by national trends. Nationwide, large numbers of teachers leave the classroom by their fifth year in teaching (Ingersoll & Smith, 2003). While the highest numbers depart in their first or second year, there is relatively high attrition even through year five (Murnane et al., 1991). In general, these teachers are more effective than new teachers (Murnane & Phillips, 1981; Rockoff, 2004), and thus their departure may do more harm to schools and student achievement than the well-publicized exodus of novices. However, few districts are responding proactively to this pattern. Hudson is one of the few that has prioritized this demographic group and worked to retain them by regularly asking and addressing the question, “How do we support and challenge the faculty members who have been with us for three to six years so that they sustain their excitement, continue to feel that they are growing, and want to make a long-term commitment to Hudson?” (p. 130).

    Hudson administrators developed a plan to support these teachers by providing them adequate resources, support for their professional growth, opportunities to have a voice in school decisions, and movement toward a more collegial and collaborative school culture. Specifically, Hudson shifted its professional development to incorporate more “reflective dialogue” among teachers about their work. Moreover, the district has shifted to an evaluation system focused on teachers’ professional growth rather than their deficiencies. Teachers with at least three years in the district may elect this new evaluation system, which requires them to write an individual growth plan that they pursue with the assistance and oversight of administrators and their colleagues. Hudson also created more leadership opportunities for early career teachers. For example, a grant has enabled the district to create teacher-leader positions for every grade in math and science. According to Berman, administrators have also actively recruited early career teachers for such roles. Hudson sought additional grants to fund innovative projects proposed and led by early career teachers. Lastly, administrators and teachers have attempted to build a more collegial and collaborative school culture to support the career development of early career teachers and their more veteran counterparts. Berman argues that these efforts manifest in Hudson’s approach to evaluation and professional development, its commitment to common planning time, and its adherence to a common vision for improving the education of all its children.

    Conditions That Promote a Restructured Early Career

    Overall, The Teaching Career makes a strong case for restructuring and refocusing the first five years of teachers’ work. Taken together, these essays argue that schools must change to better support the development of strong and committed early career teachers. Schools must become more collegial, more supportive, and more focused on adult learning. However, in order to effect the stark change advocated by this book, other stakeholders must join schools in looking anew at the early careers of teachers. The Teaching Career posits that universities and unions, in addition to schools and districts, must cast aside outdated assumptions and old antagonisms to think and work together differently.

    The Teaching Career includes great detail on how institutions must change to support and renew the early teaching career. Most striking among these recommendations is the proposition that teachers unions are central to the proposed restructuring of the teaching career. Often, policymakers create reform with little consideration, let alone good will, for unions (Koppich, 2005; Moe, 2005). In the SST initiative, by contrast, the Teachers Union Reform Network (TURN), a joint effort of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, is a key participant. In this volume, former deans of two education schools argue that school districts and schools of education must work with unions on the substantive issues of career development and support both preservice and in-service teachers. The teaching career cannot change, according to these and other contributors, if unions are not involved in the process. In an era when union-management clashes are well publicized and some research casts unions as impediments to increased teacher quality and student achievement (Hoxby, 1996; Hoxby & Leigh, 2004), this view is notable.

    Conclusion

    These essays call for a renewed commitment to self-analysis and collaboration on the part of school, union, and university leaders. While proposing stronger teamwork, even among occasional adversaries, and creative approaches to problems, The Teaching Career also models such behaviors. This book’s authors include a union president, a superintendent, several professors involved in teacher education, several deans of schools of education, and SST program administrators and researchers who study new teacher support.

    On the whole, The Teaching Career succeeds in bringing various viewpoints to bear on how schools, districts, unions, and universities should work together in building an early career continuum for teachers. It also succeeds in presenting evidence from research and practice on how some universities, schools, and districts effectively support teachers from preparation into their early teaching career. These contributions make The Teaching Career an important volume that school, district, and university leaders should read and consider.

    However, given that the title suggests the volume will focus on teachers’ experiences and address the breadth of their career, I felt that The Teaching Career could have focused more explicitly and at greater length on these topics. For example, the book would be even more convincing had it included views about the teaching career from student teachers, new teachers, and veteran teachers. Teacher voices would have added depth and context to the other perspectives represented. Moreover, although I recognize that the focus of SST is on teachers’ early careers, greater attention to the place of experienced teachers — those with more than six years in the profession in this case — in renewing the teaching career would have aligned the text more with its title. While this volume provides many practical lessons, philosophical insights, and a good dose of inspiration, The Teaching Career might have gone further in its consideration of how the entire teaching career could be reshaped to sustain teachers beyond their first few years in the classroom and build better schools in the process.

    Arguing for renewed partnerships and creative problem-solving, The Teaching Career calls on practitioners and policymakers to commit to a new conception of the teaching career and a new vision for how to work together to support teachers. In the final chapter, Richard Wiesnewski, currently a professor at the University of Tennessee and formerly dean of education at the University of Oklahoma, revisits the thesis of the book. He argues, “I can only urge those concerned with these issues to spend less time trying to polish to perfection the nuts and bolts of teacher education, induction, or career development systems. We need to concentrate instead on conceptions of teaching that by their very nature would dramatically facilitate and nurture the levels of teaching and learning desired” (p. 210). It is just this sort of bold and unconventional approach that may succeed in reforming the first five years of teaching. 
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    Fall 2005 Issue

    Abstracts

    Thinking Collaboratively about the Peer-Review Process for Journal-Article Publication
    Kevin K. Kumashiro, with additional contributions by William F. Pinar, Elizabeth Graue, Carl A. Grant, Maenette K. P. Benham, Ronald H. Heck, James Joseph Scheurich, Allan Luke, and Carmen Luke
    Dropping Out of High School among Mexican-Origin Youths
    Is Early Work Experience a Factor?
    Anane N. Olatunji
    Black Dean
    Race, Reconciliation, and the Emotions of Deanship
    Jonathan David Jansen
    Editor's Review of The Teaching Career, edited by John I. Goodlad and Timothy J. McMannon
    Morgaen L. Donaldson

    Book Notes

    Curriculum Work as a Public Moral Enterprise
    Edited by Rubén Gaztambide-Fernández and James T. Sears

    Walking the Road
    By Marilyn Cochran-Smith

    Charter Schools
    Edited by Liane Brouillette

    Surviving Inclusion
    By Kay Johnson Lehmann

    Young Children and Trauma
    Edited by Joy D. Osofsky