• xTalks: Digital Discourses

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Justin Reich: Playful Rehearsal - Designing Practice Spaces for Teachers

Justin Reich

Every great teacher knows that skill development requires deliberate practice; ironically, teachers themselves have limited opportunities to practice important teaching strategies and moves in low-stakes settings. Currently, teacher candidates primarily learn in two spaces: the graduate school of education’s Socratic seminar room and the practicum classroom. The former affords discussion and the latter affords immersion into the challenges of teaching, but a third space--a practice space--is needed that combines the authenticity of the practicum classroom with the control and scaffolding of the GSE seminar room.

One of the active lines of research and development at the MIT Teaching Systems Lab is to create new genres of practice spaces for teachers, drawing on models from games and simulations. Game designer Sid Meier has characterized engaging games as “a series of interesting decisions,” and we believe that games and simulations can provide learning experiences that help novice teachers rehearse for important “interesting” decisions in teaching—when to ask a question versus when to clarify, when to provide help and when to insist upon independence, when to act and when to listen. Our work builds upon existing research into role-playing, simulations, and other forms of rehearsal in teacher education.

In this presentation, Justin Reich, Executive Director of the MIT Teaching Systems Lab, will describe the ideas underlying this research and showcase prototypes of games and simulations that help teachers rehearse for and reflect upon important decisions in teaching.