Teaching as a Clinical Profession: Adapting the Medical Model

Ayelet Becher, Adam Lefstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One influential way of thinking about teaching is to conceive of it as a clinical profession, similar in important ways to medicine. However, fundamental differences between doctors’ and teachers’ practice limit the usefulness of the medical model. How can we adapt our understandings of clinical practice in light of the unique aspects of teaching and the context of teachers’ work? In this article, we explore the requirements of the central clinical activities of diagnosis, treatment, and inference in teaching; how teachers tend to perform them; and how their performance is shaped by the context of teachers’ work. We elaborate each clinical activity’s characteristics and explore the unique features and limitations of teaching in relation to it. To account for teaching’s unique qualities, we propose adapting the clinical acts of diagnosis, treatment, and inference to include, respectively, prioritization and noticing, disciplined improvisation, and room to maneuver.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)477-488
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Teacher Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.


  • practice-based teacher education
  • teacher knowledge
  • teaching context


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