Led by Goodlad, Eight Sites Set To Transform Teacher Training
SEATTLE--Embracing the ambitious goals outlined by John I. Goodlad in his recent book Teachers for Our Nation's Schools, representatives of eight universities met here last month to begin the process of creating the "centers of pedagogy" the noted education researcher envisions.
The eight pilot sites, selected this summer from among 50 applicants, include California Polytechnic State University, Miami University in Ohio, Montclair State College in New Jersey, Texas A&M University, the University of Washington, Wheelock College in Boston, and the University of Wyoming.
The eighth site represents a consortium of South Carolina institutions: Benedict College, Columbia College, Furman University, the University of South Carolina, and Winthrop College, in cooperation with the South Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning.
Drawing on his comprehensive study of 29 public and private institutions offering teacher education in eight states, Mr. Goodlad recommends that teacher-education programs be elevated to the status and autonomy of law or medical schools, including having their own faculty and budget.
The new pedagogy centers, geared to produce teachers who are the "stewards of their schools," would have the authority to design their own curricula, develop their own reward structures, control the use of field settings in collaboration with school districts, and limit student admissions. (See Education Week, Oct. 24, 1990.)
Variety of Sites
The pilot sites were selected not for the excellence of their teacher-education programs but for their willingness to acknowledge their shortcomings and to commit to change, Mr. Goodlad told the meeting of nearly 50 site representatives.
Other selection factors included institution size and geographic diversity, he said.
The staff of the Center for Educational Renewal at the University of Washington, which Mr. Goodlad directs, was responsible for the final selection of the sites.
Exclusion from the initial group of pilot sites "did not mean an institution did not put in a good proposal," Mr. Goodlad said.
"We wanted a variety of places, each having some particular strengths," said Roger Soder, the associate director of the Center for Educational Renewal.
Wheelock, for example, has a historically strong commitment to educating teachers in a small setting without having to compete for resources or prestige with other schools within a large university, the researchers said.
Located near Newark, N.J., Montclair State offers an urban setting, while CalPoly, in San Luis Obispo, "is probably as far along as anyone in creating a 'center of pedagogy,'" Mr. Soder said, blending instruction from the liberal arts and the school of education with clinical faculty in schools.
CalPoly is also exploring how best to recruit teachers from minority groups, he said.
At the same time, Mr. Soder said, "It's important not to think this is some sort of blue-ribbon award."
Now that they have been selected, he said, it is time for participants to "roll up [their] sleeves and get down to work."
Indeed, the eight sites will aim to overhaul their teacher-education programs according to the ideals laid out in Teachers for Our Nation's Schools.
They are to pursue university-school partnerships--a collaboration spanning tens of schools, not just one "lab" school--if they have not already done so. Through such an approach, both student-teachers and classroom students benefit from, and are a part of, the university reforms, Mr. Goodlad and others said.
In what Mr. Goodlad acknowledges is one of the most "radical departures from convention," the practice of placing individual student-teachers with cooperating teachers in the schools will, within several years, be abandoned at the pilot sites.
Instead, a group of student-teachers will be instructed by a composite faculty made up of representatives from the public schools, the university's college of education, and professors from the arts and sciences.
The work of the pilot sites is a five-year project, Mr. Soder said, which will be formally evaluated at the three- and five-year marks.
The researchers expect to add other sites to the mix, including some as early as the coming year, Mr. Soder said.
Joining the Center for Educational Renewal in support of the pilot-site experiment--part of the Agenda for Teacher Education in a Democracy--are the Education Commission of the States and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.
The other component of the Agenda began last summer when the E.c.s. invited governors to submit applications for $5,000 mini-grants designed to help stimulate statewide dialogue on teacher-education reform. Forty-four states submitted proposals, according to Mr. Goodlad, and 25 are now using the grants, provided by Southwestern Bell Foundation.
As a partner in the Agenda, the E.C.S. will work to foster communication between the sites and to help make state governments more welcoming of teacher-education reform, including trying to discover common links between the work of the Agenda and state efforts to restructure the public schools, Joni Finney, director of policy studies at the E.c.s., told the conferees. Meanwhile, AACTE will use its existing network to disseminate information and to "keep momentum going'' on the Agenda, Mr. Soder said.
Much of the funding for the pilot-site venture has been provided by the Exxon Education Foundation, which last fall announced a five-year, $1.25-million grant to the project. In addition, the Southwestern Bell Foundation has given $25,000 seed grants to each of the eight sites.
The conference here on the University of Washington campus was intended to provide an opportunity for the site representatives to become acquainted and to begin to exchange information and strategies on how to proceed with the project.
Over the course of the three-day conference, participants raised and grappled with such issues as how best to prod change in the often intransigent worlds of school districts and academia, how to recruit and support teachers from minority groups, and how to increase the prestige of teacher education in a society that undervalues the women who dominate the profession.
One small-group discussion focused on the 19 "postulates," or conditions, viewed by Mr. Goodlad and his research team as necessary to create ideal teacher-education programs.
In one group made up primarily of deans of colleges of education, the discussion elicited the educators' ideals as well as the problems they anticipate as they grope toward reform, such as ensuring the commitment of the faculty and administration.
One official readily acknowledged that his faculty had no less than 62 positions on one of the Goodlad postulates--a remark, he emphasized, that was "not flippant."
Another group member, John P. Dolly, dean of the college of education at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, urged that colleges refrain from designing teacher education to fit state guidelines rather than desired teacher behavior.
And Richard L. Andrews, dean of the college of education at the University of Wyoming, said admissions criteria must become more qualitative because teacher educators have been focusing for too long on "criteria we know [are] not predictive" of classroom performance, such as standardized tests.
In his talk to the conferees, Mr. Goodlad acknowledged the difficulties facing the pilot sites.
One challenge will be persuading universities to alter the reward structure so that professors will embrace working in the partner schools, a perceived low-status area, without feeling that they are jeopardizing prestigious research grants.
The Agenda will also have to address how to bring state funding to a "creature" that is a school-university hybrid.
"It's fraught with problems," Mr. Goodlad said of the Agenda venture. "But, oh, it's fraught with opportunities!"
Despite the hurdles, conference participants generally seemed optimistic about the prospects for success.
Susan M. Swap, chairman of the Department of Professional Studies at Wheelock College, said the opportunity "to share ... and learn from other people" drew her into the program.
The ability to collaborate also empowers each institution, she said. "You can do more as a group," Ms. Swap said, "than you can if each of us operates as independent colleges."
Anthony Avina, superintendent of the 5,500-student Atascadero (Calif.) Unified School District, said he welcomed the chance to reinforce and expand on his district's recently improved relationship with the teacher-education program at nearby CalPoly.
In years past, he said, the university was "remote," and hosting student-teachers meant an "intrusion" in his schools.
He said he saw the pilot site project as a way to foster that beneficial partnership, which could include enhanced status for his teachers if they become adjunct professors in teacher education at the university.
As to possible roadblocks to success for the pilot sites, Mr. Avina said, "The major fly in the ointment will be helping other superintendents understand [the benefits]" of such a partnership.
"They haven't seen the... university as a resource," he said.
The very issue of teacher participation in the 'center of pedagogy' could be another sticking point, said Nathalie Gehrke, an education professor at the University of Washington and the director of the Puget Sound Professional Development Center.
The issue of "more time with no more pay" for participating in the clinical training of teachers may raise the hackles of the teachers' unions, she said. But at the same time, she said, it would be foolish for the pilot sites to ignore the knowledge and experience of the unions.
Overall, she said her experience with the existing partnership between her institution and the Seattle school system made her optimistic about the future of the pilot sites.
"I've seen some results" in Seattle, she said, both for the university faculty and the school staff. "It's enough success," she said, "that it makes me think it can be done on a larger scale with more sites."
Vol. 11, Issue 01, Page 18Published in Print: September 4, 1991, as Led by Goodlad, Eight Sites Set To Transform Teacher Training