Middle-level Teacher Preparation across International Contexts: Understanding Local and Global Factors Influencing Teacher Education

Year: 2021

Author: Main, Katherine

Type of paper: Individual Paper

In the AMLE position statement The Successful Middle School: This We Believe (Bishop & Harrison, 2020), the authors call for “educators [who] are specifically prepared to teach young adolescents (aged 11-15 years approximately) and possess a depth of understanding in the content areas they teach” (p. 25). Programs that prepare teachers of young adolescents should include at least six key elements:1) Deep understanding of young adolescents, their development, and their diverse identities;2) Middle school philosophy and organization;3) Knowledge of the content area(s) taught;4) Middle school curriculum;5) Middle grades planning, instruction, and assessment; and6) Opportunities to demonstrate professional roles and ethical behaviors. (p. 25)Depending on how the school system in a country is organized, young adolescents may be educated in a variety of school settings—primary schools, secondary schools or, in systems with a middle tier of schooling, “middle” or “junior high” schools. Despite the worldwide need for well-prepared teachers of young adolescents, no comprehensive, cross-national examination of higher-education academic programs that accomplish this task exists in the academic literature (Virtue, Ellerbrock, & Main, 2020). This paper reports on an international study of 16 teacher preparation programs based in higher education institutions around the world. To illustrate the diversity of practices and contexts, cases included programs in countries with systems that have a middle tier of schooling and systems that have primary and secondary tiers only as well as programs that prepare teachers for the middle grades exclusively and programs that have a generalist orientation. Once all cases have been received (July 2021), a thorough meta-analysis will be undertaken using a comparative case study approach (CCS) that that will compare through and across sites and scales and attend to three axes of comparison: horizontal, (policies or phenomena within a context); vertical (phenomena across scales); and transversal (phenomena and cases across time). An initial examination of some cases has already indicated that a number of cross-cutting issues will emerge, including issues around educational credentialing, establishing standards, approved teacher preparation programs, and enforced regulations; quality assurance in various contexts; funding for teacher education and training, alternative pathways to teaching; treatment of special or underserved populations in the curriculum; and the structure and design of program accountability systems.