Annotated Bibliography of Resources for Educational Reform, Coherent Teaching Practice, and Improved Student Learning

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  • McDonald, J. P. (1992). Teaching: Making sense of an uncertain craft. New York: Teachers College Press.

McDonald describes his personal efforts to better understand teaching and change his teaching practice, and his collegial interactions as a member of a group of teachersÑthe Secondary Study Group. He calls his inquiry "reading teaching." Reading teaching involves "textmaking," the constructing of a text by keeping journals, taking notes, recording conversations, and so on. It also involves "gripping," the bringing the texts into the grip of some set of ideas, perspectives, or values, which are often supplied by another text. Finally, reading teaching demands "doubting," which involves questioning assumptions and being critical. McDonald began his inquiry, his reading of teaching, alone. He kept a journal and then reflected on his writings. Then he became a member of a collaborative study group, who gathered regularly to talk about teaching, share reactions to readings about teaching, and tell stories from their teaching. The book includes extended excepts from their conversations, showing the nature of their inquiry and of their learning. A theme that runs through the book is that teaching is an uncertain profession. Teachers have to be able to live with the dilemmas and tensions. He says that to be professional about teaching requires reflecting on practice, conversing with peers, looking critically at the circumstances of the work, and attending to the voices of experience.

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