The learning contained in this example may result unsubstantial for many readers but, in essence, it illustrates a genuine piece of knowledge that is often displayed in schools and has been long time neglected in Teacher Education Programs.
Making the student to use the dictionary may be not among any canonical response to the problem (not knowing the concept of condensation). It may be thought that it should have been better to tell the Student Teacher to prepare more consciously the key concepts of the lesson next time. We agree. But we also believe that any form of knowledge should be considered valid as far as it is useful when dealing with practical situations. For us we have in this example, in the very end, an expert teacher’s rule of thumb to solve the problem quickly the next time the Student Teacher might face a similar situation. If the mentor teacher, as expert, recommend using that rule is because it serves for a purpose, although it might be a temporarily one, a necessary footstep that leads to more sophisticated –and probably more canonical- strategies.
Therefore, the sum of pedagogical principles such as the one described above constitutes part of the practical knowledge repertoire that expert teachers use in their daily teaching, a crucial aspect that not only outlines particular teaching patterns but also determines professional roles and identities.
The important issue therefore is finding ways to make this valuable knowledge explicit and communicable to others, especially the ones that are learning the profession. But, apart from that it is also important to articulate them into theories of -and for- practice that may be utilized by other professionals (both in service and pre service). Practical knowledge is often tacit in the mind (Meijer, Verloop & Beijard, 1999; Verloop, Van Driel & Meijer, 2001) of expert teachers and it is not usually accessible or verbalized unless they are triggered to reflect upon what they usually do (Shulman, 1986, 1987); In this case, the classroom teacher may not think about the use of the dictionary until she is asked about when to use it. The mentoring interactions portray habitual classroom situations that help thinking over particular Student Teachers’ performance (Clarke, 2001) eliciting, as a consequence, tacit knowledge that is only in the expert teacher’ mind. These genuine interactions between an expert teacher and a student teacher triggers critical reflection processes on teaching experiences and invites to further think of what can be done in similar future situations.
In this chapter our objective is twofold: On one hand we aim at (1) stressing the relevance of seizing the practical knowledge that emerge in mentoring conversations –as the one contained in the previous example- leaving other aspects of the interaction behind (i.e. personal engagement, emotional commitment, roles, etc.); and, on the other hand, (2) describing a possible procedure that may help to make that...