Teacher Educators Implored To 'Lead' in Improving Training
The Association of Teacher Educators last week released a comprehensive set of recommendations for improving the education of teachers throughout their careers.
The report, presented at the association's annual meeting Feb. 16 to 20 in New Orleans, calls for those directly involved in the education of teachers to "take the lead" in ensuring that future generations of teachers will be adequately prepared.
"The thing about this commission report that is different than most is that most tell what somebody else ought to do to improve education," said W. Robert Houston, professor of education at the University of Houston and chairman of the commission. "This is a report from professionals to professionals saying, 'Here's what we need to do."'
The report makes specific suggestions for college-based teacher educators, school-based teacher educators, state education agencies, and representatives of national, state, and local professional organizations that make up ATE's membership.
It focuses on recruiting a more racially and ethnically diverse group of teacher candidates; improving the quality of preservice preparation; enhancing the ability of new teachers to assume an initial teaching placement successfully; supporting the continued growth and development of teachers; and promoting research and accountability in teacher education.
To increase minority recruitment, for example, the report recommends that education schools develop programs "whose major theme is fostering an ethnically and culturally diverse perspective in all students."
The report also urges local educators to create Future Educators of America chapters in schools to promote the profession and to develop magnet schools focused on teaching.
State agencies are encouraged to develop scholarships, tuition waivers, forgiveable loans, and other incentives to attract prospective teachers. And professional organizations are urged to encourage mature adults who are interested in changing careers to consider teaching.
In its recommendations concerning initial teacher preparation, the commission suggests that education schools create "professional development schools," which would have as a major emphasis both the preparation of new teachers and the continued development of practicing teachers.
School-based teacher educators should collaborate with their university colleagues in the "design, delivery, and assessment of preservice teacher-preparation programs," the commission says.
It suggests that such collaboration could include developing protocol materials, instructional case studies, scripts for microteaching, interactive videos, videotaped demonstration lessons, and the like.
Professional groups should develop high standards for the selection and training of the classroom teachers who work with preservice teachers, the commission recommends.
Noting that it takes time for teachers to become expert, the report calls for well-designed and adequately funded support programs for new teachers. It also places a large responsibility for this role on classroom teachers, whom it says must become "clinical teachers" skilled in mentoring new teachers as well as working with teacher candidates.
The responsibility for creating such clinical positions rests with college-based teacher educators, the report says, although their school-district colleagues must be involved in designing the selection criteria for clinical teachers and materials necessary for their development.
To aid this collaboration, the commission suggests that state education agencies put their resources into supporting networking among various teacher educators to "create a common language about teaching and agreed-on expectations regarding the knowledge and skills that a beginning teacher should possess."
Finally, the report strongly endorses requiring national accreditation as a condition for state approval of teacher-education programs.
Members of the association will receive copies of the report; for information on copies for nonmembers, contact ATE, 1900 Association Dr., Suite ate, Reston, Va. 22091-1599.
Vol. 10, Issue 22, Page 5