Unpacking the "Urban" in Urban Teacher Education: Making a Case for Context-Specific Preparation

Kavita Kapadia Matsko, Karen Hammerness

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


The literature on preparing teachers for urban schools provides a rationale for helping candidates understand the particular cultures of students. However, research has not sufficiently "unpacked" features of the setting that programs can address; nor has it discussed how programs tailor teaching approaches to their specific contexts. Drawing from program descriptions, syllabi, and interviews, we describe the "context-specific" approach of the University of Chicago Urban Teacher Education Program that prepares teachers for Chicago Public Schools and ways that it helps candidates make meaning of that setting. We present a framework to show how the program defines and then teaches as content essential knowledge about a district and its children-including community and neighborhood histories, district curricula, and policies-that must inform teaching and learning. We include examples of context-specific teacher preparation that illustrate how candidates learn about particularities of Chicago Public Schools and apply this knowledge to develop context-specific understandings and practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128-144
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Teacher Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • preservice education
  • teacher preparation
  • teaching context
  • urban teacher education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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