Yale University

Professional Demeanor

Teaching is challenging in that it asks all candidates both to harness their own emotions to develop a connected community of learning and also to remain objective enough to be fair and equitable (Palmer, 1998; Hargreaves, 2001). Bullough and Gitlin (2001) stress the importance of a teacher's self-knowledge as the foundation of this professional demeanor. Outside the analytic practice of most university settings, this domain requires candidates to integrate what they think, feel and do. Self-analysis lays the ground work for enacting a critical self-reflection on bias and prejudice. Social reproduction theory takes place in the choices, often unexamined, that teachers make. Absent critical inquiry, teachers will likely create conditions for learning that favor students who learn as they do.

One of the most important dispositions for effective teaching is assuming the responsibility for student learning. From our perspective the teacher has a moral responsibility to take leadership for academic achievement no matter what context they find themselves in. Research has shown the importance of this high locus of control (TFA, 2002). It is vital that teachers persist in carrying the responsibility for overcoming barriers to learning even when many of the forces contributing to those barriers are not within their control. There are convincing research findings that socio-economic factors are a powerful determinant of academic performance. Yet at the same time there are many examples of powerful teaching that have produced achievement far above predicted levels. Given that powerful teaching can overcome economic factors, it is essential that candidates act with the expectation that they can contribute to academic achievement.

Assuming authority is a challenge for many teacher candidates. One of the rationales for extensive clinical practice is the opportunity for extended time working through issues of taking on authority. Novice candidates tend to move to the extremes, either ceding too much authority or becoming too authoritarian. It is expected that our candidates will have the support they need to be ready as first-year teachers to use authority effectively.