Knowledge of how to teach

One of the challenges for teacher educators is to help student teachers learn how to teach specific topics. Some courses have specific subject methodology sessions. Sometimes, however, student teachers are taught the subject in a different department from the methodology. For example, they might be taught fractions by a maths lecturer and different classroom approaches by an education lecturer.

The TESSA Subject Resources, although linked to curriculum topics, are not age specific. This is because they are not designed to be prescriptive lessons plans; rather they are a tool that teachers can use to plan their lessons. Also, they enable you to teach subject knowledge and pedagogical knowledge at the same time, thus deepening your own understanding of teaching. This is known as ‘pedagogical content knowledge’ (PCK) (Shulman, 1986).

PCK is special to teachers – it describes the knowledge that teachers have about how to teach their subject. It involves knowing the subject, knowing about pedagogy, and knowing how to represent ideas about the subject to learners.

Activity 2.6: Knowledge of how to teach

Timing: (Allow approximately 30 minutes)

Open the TESSA unit on teaching fractions [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . (You can also download a PDF version of it.) You will notice that there are three activities, three case studies and a set of resources to support the activities. The learning outcomes are for the teacher.

  • How could you use the TESSA unit to support the teacher in improving their practice? Write down your ideas in your study notebook.

If you have the opportunity, ask your student teachers to use the unit to plan a lesson suitable for younger children and a lesson suitable for older children.

  • How do your students develop their PCK? Write down a few ideas in your study notebook and discuss them with a colleague.

Thinking about teacher education programmes