Imagine a crime scene. A lay observer sees a broken window. A trained crime scene investigator notices the location and pattern of shards of broken glass in the windowsill and on the floor. She notices the geometry of the pieces of glass that remain in the windowpane. She notices the position of the window crank and window frame. She uses this information to determine whether the window was open when it was broken, whether it was broken from the inside, the force of the impact that broke the window, and the size and trajectory of the object that broke the window. The investigator, through training and experience in her practice, has come to learn what is important to pay attention to and how to make sense of crime scenes. Similarly, new teachers need to learn how to look at and make sense of classrooms, what I call “noticing.” I propose that pre-service teachers need to “learn to notice,” to develop a keen eye for attending to and reasoning about teaching and student learning. Furthermore, given the vision of reform teaching – one that advocates a student-centered, adaptive approach to instruction – practicing teachers may need to learn to look at and reason about classrooms in new ways as well. Drawing on Goodwin (1994) and Sherin (2001), I refer to this as professional vision for reform teaching. Professional vision refers to the ability to notice features of a practice that are valued by a particular social group. The important question becomes: How does a teacher gain those skills?
Given that prospective teachers spend hours in the field observing and student teaching, and given the unchanging nature of teaching, this research project considers how pre-service and practicing teachers learn to notice aspects of teaching that are central to teaching for understanding In my research, I ask two questions: a) What do pre-service and practicing teachers notice when they observe teaching and how does this develop over time? and b) How does their experience in a pre-service teacher education program or professional development influence their noticing, in order to develop a professional vision of reform pedagogy?
Following are descriptions of several projects that begin to investigate these questions.