THE CLINICALLY-BASED LEARNING THEORY (CBLT)
The Johns Hopkins School of Education and Urban Teachers believe that effective teaching takes time to learn. Urban Teachers has identified four key practices that its participants must develop to become effective teachers in the classroom. These teaching practices are:
- BUILDING A PRODUCTIVE AND NURTURING CLASSROOM ENVIRONMENT,
- BEING A DIAGNOSTICIAN,
- SETTING PRECISE GOALS & ENACTING THEM, AND
- FOSTERING ACADEMIC DISCOURSE.
Within these teaching practices are a range of techniques, strategies, and moves which must also be mastered. Urban Teachers believes that these strategies and moves are most efficiently learned when they are taught in the content and context where they are the most relevant and meaningful.
To ensure participants have the best opportunity to learn the strategies and moves essential for effective teacher practice, the coursework and coaching experiences in the Urban Teachers program at Johns Hopkins are structured to be immersive experiences in coursework and the clinical setting, with deliberately embedded opportunities for planning, rehearsing, enacting, and reflecting on course and classroom experiences. This deliberate scaffold allows participants to deeply learn and demonstrate their ability to implement effective teaching practices in the classroom with students. These beliefs establish the foundation of the Urban Teachers program clinically-based learning theory:
THEORY OF ACTION: “If we want our teachers to learn the strategies and moves essential for establishing effective teacher practice, then our instructional model must be aligned with our clinically-based learning theory.”
The theory of action begins with an immersive experience in which the Urban Teachers participant is fully engaged in the learning process. The participant is the observer-learner at this stage of the work, watching and listening to a teacher technique as it is being enacted. The participant may be a learner in a lesson modeled by the coursework instructor or watching someone else implement a technique in the classroom with students (in person or via video).
At the next phase, the participant has an opportunity to step back and analyze the teacher technique. The participant may do the analysis on their own or with the support of faculty. The participant may describe, name, and identify the component parts of the techniques. As the learner, the participant should be able name what they learned and the process they experienced to achieve that learning. As an educator, the participant should be able name the teacher technique and its impact on the learning of K-12 students.
UNDERSTAND & BELIEVE IT:
The participant can now articulate the rationale and intention of the teacher technique, i.e. they understand and believe in the reason for utilizing the strategy and the anticipated outcomes for K-12 students. Even though the participant may be able to name what they saw and tell about what they did, that may not be enough for shifts in classroom practice to occur. The participant must take time to truly understand why the practice is important and believe that the practice is essential. This stage of the learning theory is critical if there is going to be a shift in a participant’s mental paradigm about what they believe to be effective teaching and learning. A participant should now be able to articulate how the technique increases student engagement and achievement, and why they are ethically obligated to enact it as an educator.
PLAN & REHEARSE IT:
The participant next has the experience of preparing for the technique by planning and rehearsing its implementation. The participant is the do-er at this phase, in the context of coursework or the clinical classroom. This active enactment is a shift in ownership for the participant. The participant is now tasked with using what they have observed, as well as what they know and believe, to rehearse the implementation of the technique.
Now comes the opportunity for the participant to do the work in the clinical classroom with K-12 students. The participant is now deliberately and mindfully implementing the teacher technique after planning, rehearsing, and sense-making have already transpired.
REFLECT ON IT:
Taking time to reflect on one’s work is a crucial part of improving one’s practice. This metacognitive phase pushes the participant to think about their actions and the resultant effect of their techniques on the achievement of their K-12 students. Data from the lesson is essential, so that the participant can identify which aspects of their practice that they need to refine based on the effectiveness of the technique with K-12 students. Learning from the experience to make improvements in one’s practice is what separates effective teachers from others. It is important to note that reflection may actually be occurring throughout the entire clinically-based learning cycle.