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1.4: How Educational Psychology Can Help

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  • All things considered, then, times have changed for teachers. But teaching remains an attractive, satisfying, and worthwhile profession. The recent trends mean simply that you need to prepare for teaching differently than you might have in the past, and perhaps differently than your own school teachers did a generation ago. Fortunately, there are ways to do this. Many current programs in teacher education provide a balance of experiences in tune with current and emerging needs of teachers. They offer more time for practice teaching in schools, for example, and teacher education instructors often make deliberate efforts to connect the concepts and ideas of education and psychology to current best practices of education. These and other features of contemporary teacher education will make it easier for you to become the kind of teacher that you not only want to be, but also will need to be.

    This book— about educational psychology and its relation to teaching and learning— can be one of your supports as you get started. To make it as useful as possible, we have written about educational psychology while keeping in mind the current state of teaching, as well as your needs as a unique future teacher. The text draws heavily on concepts, research and fundamental theories from educational psychology. But these are selected and framed around the problems, challenges, and satisfactions faced by teachers daily, and especially as faced by teachers new to the profession. We have selected and emphasized topics in proportion to two factors: (l) their importance as reported by teachers and other educational experts, and (2) the ability of educational psychology to comment on particular problems, challenges, and satisfactions helpfully.

    There is a lot to learn about teaching, and much of it comes from educational psychology. As a career, teaching has distinctive features now that it did not have a generation ago. The new features make it more exciting in some ways, as well as more challenging than in the past. The changes require learning teaching skills that were less important in earlier times. But the new skills are quite learnable. Educational psychology, and this text, will get you started at that task.

    Chapter summary

    Teaching in the twenty-first century offers a number of satisfactions— witnessing and assisting the growth of young people, lifelong learning, the challenge and excitement of designing effective instruction. Four trends have affected the way that these satisfactions are experienced by classroom teachers: (l) increased diversity of students, (2) the spread of instructional technology in schools and classrooms, (3) increased expectations for accountability in education, and (4) the development of increased professionalism among teachers. Each trend presents new opportunities to students and teachers, but also raises new issues for teachers. Educational psychology, and this textbook, can help teachers to make constructive use of the new trends as well as deal with the dilemmas that accompany them. It offers information, advice, and useful perspectives specifically in three areas of teaching: (1) students as learners, (2) instruction and assessment, and (3) the psychological and social awareness of teachers.

    On the Internet

    <> Try this website of the Educational Testing Service if you are curious to learn more about licensing examinations for teachers, including the PRAXIS II test that is prominent in the United States (see pp. xxx). As you will see, specific requirements vary somewhat by state and region.

    <> This is the website for the education branch of UNESCO, which is the abbreviation for the "United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization." It has extensive information and news about all forms of diversity in education, viewed from an international perspective. The challenges of teaching diverse classrooms, it seems, are not restricted to the United States, though as the new items on the website show, the challenges take different forms in different countries.

    <> <> These two websites have numerous resources about diversity for teachers from a North American (USA and Canada) perspective. They are both useful for planning instruction. The first one— maintained by a group of educators and calling itself EdChange— focuses on culturally related forms of diversity, and the second one— by the Council for Exceptional Children— focuses on children with special educational needs.

    Key terms

    Accountability in education Instructional technology
    Action research Lifelong learning
    Assessment Professionalism
    Diversity Teacher research
    High-stakes testing


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