- 1How can transcripts be used to practice the work of teaching?
- 2Why use transcripts to practice practice?
- 3How can using transcripts to practice practice advance justice in the classroom?
- 4What are some challenges and limitations of this pedagogy?
- 5Which high-leverage practices should teacher educators pair with this pedagogy?
- 6Where in the learning cycle can using transcripts to practice practice be used?
In this pedagogy, the teacher educator selects or creates a transcript and invites novice teachers to “step in” to the scenario at a certain point to play the role of the teacher. At that point, one or more novices become teacher(s), enacting the moves they think will yield the best results; others may play out the scene as students for several talk turns with the teacher, enabling the group to explore possible outcomes of the teacher’s decision; still others may observe the scene with a specific purpose in mind, as determined by the teacher educator. At the end, the transcript and live simulation of teaching add up to a common “text” that the group can analyzed during debrief, collectively inquiring into the nature of in-the-moment teaching decisions and their potential effects on the way students take up content, respond to the teacher, and relate to their peers. While transcripts themselves are representations of practice, the pedagogy employs them as frames for approximations of practice (Grossman, et al, 2009, Grossman, Hammerness & McDonald, 2009).
Using transcripts to practice practice allows novices to practice the work of teaching before they are in the field working with actual students. Teacher educators can deliberately create scenarios or dilemmas for novices to experience, without being limited to what is available on video or leaving to chance what dilemmas might surface during a rehearsal.
This pedagogy allows novice teachers to…
- understand the impact of their interventions and interactions with students
- consider and analyze the results of multiple viable and/or common teaching moves
- practice teaching moves in a safe environment, without putting children at risk
- revise and improve instruction after enactment in the P12 classroom
It allows teacher educators to…
- simulate nuanced or complex episodes of teaching
- efficiently provide a realistic context within which to practice the work of teaching
- deliberately raise specific scenarios, problems of practice, or discretionary spaces (Ball, 2018)
Because transcripts can be fabricated episodes of teaching, they can be infused with context-specific details including setting, demographic information, and even commonly occurring scenarios or patterns that put students at risk in real classrooms. While it can be difficult or impossible to find video that depicts classrooms like those in which novices will teach, transcripts can be written to reflect specific regional, demographic, curricular and other contexts. In doing so, they can be used to capture moments where normative teaching practices are likely to reinforce patterns of inequity or work against student learning, allowing novices to notice and unpack them, try them out, and critically reflect on them with support and coaching. This can give novices experience to draw on when they are called upon to make in-the-moment decisions, rather than defaulting to normative practices.
Whenever students are represented in a transcript (or any other format), one runs the risk of reinforcing essentialized or stereotyped views of them. Care must be taken to represent students—even if they are fictional–as the whole, complex, autonomous people they are, and then to anticipate and prepare to respond to any deficit-based or biased interpretations of their words and actions. More generally, developing realistic, quality transcripts can be a challenge. While this can be mitigated by transcribing actual teaching episodes, that also requires time and effort.
Because using transcripts to practice practice is intended to give novices experience with relational work, it is typically paired with high-leverage practices that are rooted in interaction, such as leading a group discussion or eliciting and interpreting student thinking. More specifically, the pedagogy is especially well suited to work on parts of teaching that build on substantial prior classroom work, which can be difficult to simulate in a rehearsal or peer run-through. Examples of such work include:
- Concluding a discussion or closing a lesson
- Checking student understanding
- Providing feedback to students
- Adjusting instruction during a lesson
- Engaging in conflict resolution
- Compassionately redirecting students
Teacher educators can use one transcript in at multiple points in the learning cycle. Novices might analyze the transcript when they are first learning about a teaching practice (introduce), and then step in to practice the same scenario when they are ready to try the practice out (prepare). Novices might use transcripts of their own practice for critical reflection on their own in-the-moment pedagogical decisions (analyze). In this phase,a transcript of a novice’s enactment can set up a simulated “do-over,” allowing novices to explore alternative moves and analyze their possible outcomes.