Practice with Purpose

Experience is easily conflated with expertise, but experience alone does not improve performance. Instead, it’s the quality of the experience and the type of practice that matters. Deliberate practice – practice that is purposeful and designed to maximize improvement – is the most useful type of practice to develop expertise.

The principles of deliberate practice emerged from research in the science of expertise, which looked at domains as diverse as surgery, chess, writing, music and ballet. We believe that the principles of deliberate practice can help inform how teacher-preparation programs prepare future educators.

Practice with Purpose connects the principles of deliberate practice with the methods used to prepare and develop teaching skill. We hope that Practice with Purpose will help educator-preparation programs think critically about the design of practice-based experiences – and ultimately help develop a true science of teacher expertise.

Practice with Purpose

What implications do the principles of deliberate practice have for educator preparation?

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Deliberate Practice: What is it?

Benjamin Riley, executive director of Deans for Impact, explains the principles of deliberate practice and why they matter for educator preparation.


“At the center of the high quality clinical preparation offered in residencies is a cycle of learning, practice, and feedback executed through a gradual release of responsibility. Practice with Purpose articulates how to strengthen teacher candidate and early career teacher development—learning that can be applied by residencies, traditional, and alternative models of preparation. With a heightened focus on preparing teachers to better serve students, communities, and districts, it is incumbent upon teacher preparation programs to integrate theory and practice, and place practice at the center of teacher training.”

Anissa Listak, founder and CEO, National Center for Teacher Residencies

Practice with Purpose is a concise resource for teacher educators who want to take advantage of emerging knowledge about the power of deliberate practice. The simple but powerful principles, illustrations, and self-assessment questions are designed to help teacher educators efficiently take action to improve both individual courses and entire programs.”

Francesca Forzani, associate director, TeachingWorks

“Five years ago, state education chiefs outlined a clear set of actions to transform educator preparation so every teacher is ready on day one to advance learning for all kids. We are excited to see Deans for Impact call for improvements aligned with these efforts to transform educator preparation and urge all state leaders to consider Practice with Purpose: The Emerging Science of Teacher Expertise as they continue to strengthen how teachers are prepared to enter the classroom.”

Chris Minnich, executive director, Council of Chief State School Officers

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