Empowering Preservice Teachers through Tutoring Chronically Ill Cancer Patients

By Ortlieb, Evan | Education, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Empowering Preservice Teachers through Tutoring Chronically Ill Cancer Patients

Ortlieb, Evan, Education


The start of another semester had in some respects become uneventful. As a collegiate professor, I had become somewhat complacent in doing things as normal: introducing myself, speaking about what the course would entail, and asking students to describe what they would like to gain from taking this class. This particular course was centrally aimed at giving students field experiences in the junior year of their undergraduate education to prepare them for student teaching. After a brief course description, students began voicing their growing concerns and dissatisfaction with many aspects of their previous preservice teacher courses. "All we do is observe ... we rarely get to teach, and when we do, it is for brief instances at a time" stated one apprehensive individual. But what was I to do? I could not control what they had already experienced in other professors' courses. Designing programs that prepare prospective teachers to learn from their teaching encounters beginning when they first enter the program is an alternative approach to teaching content before allowing for pedagogical practice (Schaefer, 1967; Hawkins, 1973; Nemser, 1983). Nevertheless, urgent action was needed since it was my duty to provide these preservice educators with meaningful field experiences, not tedious assignments and unfulfilled opportunities in the elementary classroom as they had already encountered.

In listening to my students' concerns, I heard many different vantage points about how their limited classroom opportunities seemed meaningless, where they sat watching when they were supposed to be giving whole-class instruction as the classroom teacher seemed to have authoritarian control of the class. Others said they conducted excessive observational studies while failing to have realistic elementary teaching practice. A few of the students even expressed their swaying desires to enter into the teaching career. This particular announcement was not startling, but its reasoning struck several nerves. Although these few did want to teach, work with children, and assist in their development, they were so displeased with their preservice teaching opportunities that they questioned whether their experiences would prepare them suitably for the immense responsibility that goes along with the profession.

What was going on? These students were blatantly expressing their disgust with not having adequate preparation (e.g., teaching experiences with students). Initially, I felt criticized as being one who implemented the preservice teacher program design. How could these undergraduates know more about their needs than those who designed the existing course frameworks? Soon however, it dawned on me that no one would know better than the students themselves. They experience each course, take those opportunities, and are supposed to develop throughout their teacher education program. Smith & Lev-Ari (2005) found that preservice teachers most-heavily weigh practicums in terms of importance out of all aspects of teacher education; unfortunately, the current design was not allowing my students to fulfill this necessity.

Although I could not change the entire program, I could change the logistics of my particular course to better situate it towards their eminent needs. The pursuit of change commenced with designing a noteworthy semester filled with field experiences that would prove more meaningful to both the collegiate students and those elementary/middle school learners with which they came in contact. After all, what is the purpose of developing future teachers if their needs are not taken into consideration when formulating one's own curriculum?

No longer would complacency be an option; I could not accept that the program offered limited realistic opportunities to my students to leave lasting impressions on the lives of youth. Thus, it was back to the drawing board to determine what specific needs were not met by the current preservice teacher program.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Empowering Preservice Teachers through Tutoring Chronically Ill Cancer Patients


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?