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Effective or Wise?

Teaching and the Meaning of Professional Dispositions in Education


Edited By Julie A. Gorlewski, David A. Gorlewski, Jed Hopkins and Brad J. Porfilio

In our work as educators, we all aspire to be effective. We also aspire to be wise. If teachers are to represent and advocate for education, we must become the stewards of a discourse that nurtures education’s possibilities. This book explores how teacher dispositions are defined, developed, cultivated, and assessed. The authors in the volume consider the various and interconnected ways in which educators’ values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors are performed and how these performances affect experiences and practices of learning. This text investigates complex questions, such as: How should teachers be? and Who should decide how teachers should be? In different ways, all the chapters in this book invite us into the work of reinvigorating educational discourse. The contributors contradict the idea that wisdom is the province of the lone genius who possesses knowledge that is obscure to the majority. Instead, they ask us all to participate in the necessarily collaborative endeavor of discourse stewardship in – as grand as it may sound – the pursuit of wisdom.


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Section Three: Practicing What We Teach


Practicing What We Teach s e c t i o n t h r e e c h a p t e r n i n e Seeking Balance Rethinking Who Decides the Role of Dispositions in Teacher Evaluation tim mahoney and john ward i n t r o d u c t i o n There has been much discussion of the definition of professional dispositions in education. Teacher educators, educational policy makers, practicing teachers, and school administrators have all identified the habits, beliefs, and values of teachers as part of what makes an effective professional educator. Despite this attention, there is also some confusion about how one defines dispositions, which disposi- tions are of value in teaching, whether dispositions are stable or can be developed, and whether dispositions can or should be evaluated (Diez, 2007). In this chapter, we will come at the topic from a different perspective: Who decides what disposi- tions matter for teaching? And if those dispositions are defined, then who should provide insight and, possibly, assessment of an individual teacher’s dispositions? It is our thesis that the answer to the “who” question inevitably frames answers to the “what” or “which” questions. We also believe that teacher education is at a critical juncture in regards to dispositions. Historically, educational theorists considered dispositions from the standpoint of standardization, centered on the work of experts searching for the right dispositions in teacher candidates that would lead to successful careers (Borko, Liston, & Whitcomb, 2007; Cochran-Smith & Fries, 2005; Bullough,...

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