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Conceptualizing teacher learning and practice as dynamic: Implications for research and practice

Speaker Series


Jennifer Richards, Ph.D, Northwestern University, School Education and Social Policy



Teachers work within complex intersections of influences and systems, including but not
limited to their own evolving experiences of teaching and learning, interactions with students, school
environments, and systemic initiatives. In this interactive talk, I take up a question of increasing
salience across the fields of teacher education and professional development and the learning
sciences — how can we understand and model the multifaceted dynamics of teacher practice and,
ultimately, learning? Drawing on contributions from both fields, I will share integrative, dynamic
approaches to modeling teacher practice and change, grounded in examples from a study of
teachers’ responsiveness to student thinking in grade 5-7 science classrooms. This is truly thinking in
progress, so I look forward to collaboratively co-thinking with you about the affordances, limitations,
and questions sparked by these approaches and implications of dynamism for teacher learning
research and practice.



Jennifer (Jen) Richards is a Research Assistant Professor in the Learning Sciences at
Northwestern University, just up the lake! She received a Ph.D. in science education from the
University of Maryland and spent several years learning about job-embedded teacher learning and
research-practice partnerships as a research associate at the University of Washington. Her research
focuses on two interconnected strands, primarily within the context of science education: 1)
designing and studying ways of cultivating increasingly responsive classroom and professional
learning environments within K-12 school systems, and 2) understanding and dynamically modeling
teacher practice and learning in ways that align with the complexities of the phenomena at hand.