Improving teacher preparation | The Chalkboard Project

Improving teacher preparation

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 Randy Hitz

Educators throughout the nation and state are strengthening the profession by recruiting a more diverse and talented pool of candidates, improving preparation, and improving ongoing support for teaching and learning. We seek a more seamless, efficient and effective system. In this blog post I will specifically address two ways we are improving teacher preparation.

Portland State University and many other universities with high quality teacher preparation programs are making many changes in the clinical experience and two are of utmost importance. First, we are moving away from placing student teachers individually in random schools and classrooms to systematic and strategic “clustering” of four to eight student teachers in schools where they can gain an optimum clinical experience AND contribute to the success of the P12 students in the school.

A cluster of student teachers along with cooperating teachers, university supervisors, and university faculty members makes a powerful learning community that engages in discussions of quality teaching and learning, influences one another’s teaching, and works together toward common goals that improve the student teaching experience and the achievement of P12 students. To gain a better sense of the potential for these learning communities I recommend the book “Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School” by Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan. Dr. Hargreaves will be in Portland on February 4 and will do a public lecture on the PSU campus at 6:00 PM.

We are also beginning to engage student teachers and cooperating teachers in “co-teaching.” The traditional model of student teaching calls for the student teacher to do two or three weeks of solo teaching thus replacing a great teacher with a novice teacher. In co-teaching, the cooperating teacher remains in the classroom to give more feedback to the student teacher. This approach increases the time for the teacher candidate and cooperating teacher to discuss one another’s lessons, but just as importantly, it keeps both individuals in the classroom in order to maximize P12 student learning. Through co-teaching the teacher candidate and cooperating teacher engage in more communication and collaboration around planning, instruction, and assessment.

Chalkboard’s CLASS project has done much to strengthen the profession after initial teacher preparation and through Chalkboard’s new teacher education initiative, TeachOregon, they will extend their influence to preparation. This initiative, combined with the national efforts and good work of local universities will do much to improve the clinical experience for educators and advance the profession. Ultimately it will lead to a better education for all of Oregon’s P12 students.

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