Redefining teacher development

By Becca Shareff & Erin Murphy-Graham, Graduate School of Education at UC Berkeley

When Lucia was working as an assistant in a health clinic in her home community, Sistema de Aprendizaje Tutorial (SAT) — a program designed to help people from rural areas gain a secondary-level education — recruited her to be a teacher. As soon as she started her new job, however, she realized that she was not prepared to teach the topics she was supposed to be covering. While working through a unit on soil science, for example, she felt confident about the scientific content in the curriculum, but knew that she had to defer to her students when it came to discussing  the farming activities that would put that science into practice.

To address this challenge, Lucia shifted her role from being a direct instructor to a guide. Knowledge-building became a shared process within the class, and together, Lucia and her students worked to combine theory and practice. The approach worked, and, as Lucia reports, it also complements the way in which SAT trains its teachers. Once shy and afraid to ask questions, Lucia is now an active and vocal participant in the ongoing training she receives from SAT; as a result, that training has become “indispensable.”

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