Learning to teach in a coteaching community of practice
As a result of the standards and accountability reforms of the past two decades, heightened attention has been focused upon student learning in the K-12 classrooms, classroom teacher practice, and teacher preparation. This has led to the acknowledgement of limitations of traditional field practicum and that these learning experiences are not well understood (Bullough et al., 2003; Clift & Brady, 2005). Alternative models for student teaching, including those that foster social learning experiences, have been developed. However, research is necessary to understand the implications of these models for preservice teacher learning. Drawing on sociocultural theoretical frameworks and ethnographic perspectives (Gee and Green, 1998), this qualitative research study examined the learning experiences of a cohort of eight undergraduate preservice secondary science teachers who cotaught with eight cooperating teachers for their full practicum semester. In this model, interns planned and taught alongside multiple cooperating teachers and other interns. This study centers on the social and cultural learning that occurred within this networked model and the ways that the interns developed as high school science teachers within a coteaching community of practice (Wenger, 1998). This study utilized the following data sources: Intern and cooperating teachers interviews, field observations, meeting recordings, and program documentation. Analysis focused on community and interpersonal planes of development (Rogoff, 1995) in order understand of the nature of the learning experiences and the learning that was afforded through participant interactions. Several conclusions were made after the data were analyzed. On a daily basis, the interns participated in a wide range of cultural practices and in the activities of the community. The coteaching model challenged the idiosyncratic nature of traditional student teaching models by creating opportunities to learn across various classroom contexts. In different classrooms, there were markedly different constructions of teacher practice and participant roles. The implementation of the coteaching model also resulted in the creation of an interconnected network of colleagues. In the resulting learning community, coteachers supported one another's developing practice and critically examined their shared practice.