Revamp Teacher Recruitment, Training, Continuing Education, Colleges Urged
WASHINGTON--State colleges and universities must overhaul the recruitment, initial preparation, and lifelong development of teachers in order to prepare them to work in classrooms of the future, according to a report released last week by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.
The association, whose 375 member institutions prepare more than half of the nation's teachers, also called for education schools to press for institutional changes to reward and support the faculty members who prepare teachers.
The report grew out of a conference last spring at which 35 teams of educators, policymakers, and business people were asked to define what the "new American school'' would look like and what kinds of teachers would be needed in such schools.
It was released at AASCU's annual meeting here last week.
The teacher-education initiative began last year, when a 16-member commission of college presidents issued a reform agenda calling for the presidents of AASCU institutions to recommit themselves to the schools' original mission of preparing high-quality teachers. (See Education Week, Nov. 27, 1991.)
The new document, "Teacher Education for the Twenty-First Century,'' says that schools in the future will share a number of characteristics.
To meet the needs of their diverse student bodies, for example, the "basic educational style'' of the schools will center on the students, not the teachers, it says.
Technology also will play a bigger role in schools, and their curricula will become more interdisciplinary and centered on "clearly defined learning outcomes.''
The schools themselves will also change, becoming community-service centers that draw a variety of partners into the educational enterprise to offer a full range of educational, social, financial, and emotional resources to children and their families.
"This school will require considerable flexibility regarding time, organization, levels of instruction, staffing, and the determination of competencies based on the needs of individual students,'' the report says.
The teachers at such schools will have to be able to function in fast-changing, entrepreneurial environments, the report asserts.
The tradition of teachers working independently likely will give way to teams of teachers with different skill levels and specialties. Teachers' decisionmaking responsibilities will also grow as they begin to work collectively.
These "teacher-scholars'' must be well-versed in pedagogy, child development, cognitive development, affective skills, and subject disciplines, the report says.
"Teachers will demonstrate a love for learning,'' it says, "and perhaps most of all, a caring for students.''
The teachers also must forge strong bonds outside of the school with the parents and communities in which their students live.
To prepare such teachers, the report recommends that schools of education take a number of steps, including recruiting top-quality students of both genders and diverse ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
They should then be educated in a "professional school of education'' that draws on the resources of the entire institution, public schools, and business and community partnerships, it says.
It also calls for a number of familiar reforms, including longer and more in-depth clinical experiences that begin earlier in the candidate's education, and a focus on educating teachers who are both producers and consumers of research.
Teaching candidates should acquire a strong liberal education that includes an in-depth focus on subject matter, it says, as well as "highly developed pedagogical understandings and skills.''
"Multicultural proficiency will be required,'' it adds.
Professional schools of education also must develop "progressive outreach programs,'' the report says, to help the majority of classroom teachers who have already completed their degree programs.
Within the colleges and universities, teacher-education programs must create support for faculty members who participate in field experiences and applied research, it says.
Finally, they must seek new funds from governments and other sources to carry out these new, broader mission, the report states.
The participants from the June conference have agreed to implement these strategies in their communities, the organization says. They plan to meet again at AASCU's 1993 conference to discuss their experience and what support is needed for it to continue.
Copies of the report are available from AASCU, 1 Dupont Circle,
Suite 700, Washington, D.C. 20036; telephone (202) 293-7070. The cost
is $4 for members and $6 for nonmembers.