Views from the inside: An outsider's perspective

Renee Tipton Clift

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


It isn't easy to maintain a balance among the actions that promote program improvement and those that protect a fledgling program from rapid extinction. Activities such as rigorous self-evaluation, reflective analysis of one's own practice and that of one's colleagues, or sharing data that are both positive and negative, are not likely to occur without an agreement among faculty and administrators to create and sustain a nondefensive environment in which participants work collaboratively toward continuous improvement. Time, resources, ideological differences, competing goals, and the absence of historical, organizational, or cultural norms for surfacing issues and problems often implicitly and explicitly discourage open discussions of processes and outcomes of practice (Argyris, Putnam, & McClain-Smith, 1987; Clift, Veal, Holland, Johnson, & McCarthy, 1995). Furthermore, the creation of a positive, enthusiastic image for a new program is often necessary in order to maintain institutional, financial, and personal commitment to the program. As a set, the chapters in Part 3 strive for an appropriate balance between advocacy for and critical reflection on Unified Elementary and Special Education Proteach (UESEP). It is very, very unusual for faculty from across departments to come together to plan, implement, and critically evaluate themselves, one another, and the program. It is even more unusual that they would share their data and their thoughts publicly. The authors provide us with a critical insiders' perspective that foregrounds the diversity among perspectives that one can find at many, if not most, large teacher-education programs at research-intensive institutions. As a faculty member working in a university much like the University of Florida, I will provide an outsider's view in the role of critical friend. I was an undergraduate in the secondary program at the University of Florida in the late '60's and early '70's. During this time, the elementary program offered students the option of working individually to learn a given skill or body of knowledge through a series of tasks and activities. At the end of the unit, or activity, the student would demonstrate competency on the content and objectives of the activity and begin another one. Not only was Florida one of the leaders in the competency- based teacher education movement, it was also a major site for the process-product research on effective teaching behaviors, under the direction of Robert Soar and colleagues (Brophy & Good, 1986). Those of us who were in secondary education (like our peers in the elementary program) were steeped in the humanistic tradition of teacher education (Combs, 1974). We were taught to create our units and plans with little or no reliance on a textbook; we were encouraged to think of ways to encourage self-actualization (Maslow, 1968). In the mid-'80's I reconnected with Florida when the university developed Proteach, a program based on research on effective teaching that also encouraged the development of reflective practice (Ross, 1990). At the time, faculty members from many teacher-education programs were meeting at conferences to discuss how we might encourage and assess reflective activity. Clearly, the University of Florida College of Education has been and still is a place where innovations in teacher education were valued and where research on teaching and teacher education is the norm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPreparing for Inclusive Teaching
Subtitle of host publicationMeeting The Challenges of Teacher Education Reform
PublisherState University of New York Press
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)0791463575, 9780791463574
StatePublished - 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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