Expert Behavior

Barrie Bennett from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto identified several qualities that he has observed in years of preparing educators which he feels make up expert behavior (or using another term he has coined “Instructional Intelligence”). Those qualities (from Orbit Magazine issue 32 no. 4 ) are listed below:

  • having a rich and meaningful repertoire of ways to assess learning
  • having a deep knowledge and ability to intersect multiple content areas-
  • having an extensive understanding of how students learn
  • having an extensive repertoire of instructional methods that you can integrate in a variety of ways
  • having the ability to wisely go about the process of educational change;
  • having a personality that encourages students to walk into your room.

Further, Bennett states that research across multiple disciplines (medicine, law, education, etc.) has demonstrated that it takes approximately 10 years to attain this expert behavior. This is sobering considering that the average time at which a new teacher leaves the classroom to begin a different profession is 5 years.

Considering this, it would seem wise for teacher preparation programs to seek ways in which to begin this move toward expert behavior by placing teacher credential candidates in schools for practicum experience as soon as possible. It may also be wise (though this runs contrary to many accelerated program options now available in the field) to make sure that teacher candidates spend significant time training to become teachers.  Many models are currently being offered by universities that take these elements into consideration. Recently the Carnegie Foundation awarded several universities, including Michigan State, Virginia and Cal State – Northridge, grants to examine teacher preparation for a new era.