sional activities that are extended over time and across broad teacher learning communities in order to identify the processes and mechanisms that contribute to the development of teachers’ learning communities.
15. Develop model pedagogical laboratories. In many fields in which scientific principles must be put to work, laboratory experiences provide the opportunity to experiment with applications of general and specific principles. The expense of the laboratories is justified by the qualitatively different experience made possible when the boundaries of an idea can be tested or worked with in a laboratory or field-based setting.
To prepare students in schools of education to put to work the scientific principles of how people learn, laboratory experience could provide the opportunity to test the principles, become familiar with their boundaries, and learn how to make them operational. The development of pilot pedagogical laboratories is therefore recommended.
The teachers who participated in this study emphasized that a first classroom experience can so overwhelm a teacher that what was learned in a preparatory program can quickly be cast aside. Norms of operating in a school can quickly be adopted as survival techniques, however divergent those norms and the principles of learning might be. Laboratory experience could provide the opportunities for practice, as well as for observation and diagnosis of events that are likely to arise in the classroom, that could ease the transition into the classroom and allow for greater transfer of school-based learning to the practice of teaching.
The laboratories, as envisioned, would have multiple purposes, the most important of which would be to provide teaching practice. The laboratories would need to develop ongoing relationships with a body of students to be taught (e.g., partnerships with local schools or Saturday classes). How this relationship would be established and maintained should be given careful attention in the design proposal for such a laboratory. Expert teachers who staff the laboratory would provide feedback and diagnosis of the teacher’s lessons. The process could be aided by the use of a videotaped record of the instruction. The analysis could be further augmented by viewing tapes of other teachers who have attempted similar lessons. The teacher in training would work to improve the lesson through an iterative process of feedback and revision.
The laboratory setting would be ideal for helping teachers to develop the ability to conduct formative assessment techniques. Teachers must be able to draw out and work with students’ preconceptions and assess their progress toward understanding. The laboratory could provide opportunities to develop those techniques under guided instruction.
The laboratory, as envisioned, would not provide a teaching internship or serve the function of a professional development school. Rather, it would