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Principles of practice in teacher education and performance standards

Tripp, D. (2013) Principles of practice in teacher education and performance standards. The Professional Educator, 12 (3). pp. 16-20.


Teacher professional knowledge can be captured as 'principles of practice', or principled guides to action. Principles of practice are fully articulated versions of what are often called 'tips for teachers', for example, the 'tip' to break instruction down into manageable chunks. Examined thoroughly, as principles of practice, these tips have four aspects to them: a strategy, a function, a psychological theory, and an educational value. They have broad application, although they do need to be contextualised. For example, imposing consequences on a student after two warnings for a misdemeanour might be set aside if the student had already experienced consequences for a serious behavioural incident earlier that day. Adopting the idea of principles of practice has implications for teacher standards, and principles of practice relate closely to the 'features of practice' developed by the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL). While AITSL's features are descriptive of good practice, the principles are prescriptive. AITSL's overall approach 'has much to recommend it'; however, the author calls for teacher standards to be 'fleshed out…with relevant principles of practice'. Adopting the idea of principles of practice also has implications for teacher education, as a means to help overcome the notorious divide between theory and practice. In part, this divide is due to the fact that practice is partitioned off into periods of school placement, while university-based time is devoted to education theory; this should be revised, so that in-school placements 'take place at least half a day per week throughout the initial training course'. However, the theory-practice divide is also caused by the fact that theory is examined through units of a purely theoretical nature, such as philosophy or sociology. Instead, theory and practice could be united in units focused around principles of practice.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Publisher: Australian College of Educators
Copyright: © 2013 Australian College of Educators
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