Exploring Authenticity and Playfulness in Teacher Practice Spaces

Teacher practice spaces are learning experiences, inspired by games and simulations, that allow novice teachers to rehearse for and reflect on important decisions in teaching. Practice-based teacher educators use various approaches to simulation in methods courses, and these simulations often attempt to holistically replicate the complexity of teaching conditions. In this research, we present a range of practice spaces that do not attempt to replicate teaching but explore design spaces with varying levels of authenticity. We define 4 dimensions of authenticity in teaching simulations: authenticity of complexity, of situation, of role, and of task. We discuss how these dimensions of authenticity intersect with playfulness in the examination of 4 case studies of teacher practice spaces. We hypothesize that authenticity of task is essential to most teacher practice spaces, but interesting new design spaces can be found by moving away from other dimensions of authenticity.

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