One Texas University's Approach to Integrating Learning Styles in Teacher Education: Talking the Talk and Walking the Walk
Janet Whitley and Pam Littleton
"The proficiencies are in!" we were all told one day while having lunch. We eagerly examined the new Texas Learner-Centered Proficiencies recently issued. These are, in essence, the vision that Texas administrators have for classrooms. As we read through and discussed each of the five proficiencies, we became excited thinking about preparing teachers to teach in learnercentered classrooms. But we also began to examine what these proficiencies meant for teacher preparation at the university level. Our question, it seemed, was: could we prepare university students for teaching in learnercentered schools if our own classrooms were not learner-centered? Can you talk the talk without walking the walk? As we continued our discussion, we began to plan.
The Learner-Centered Proficiencies are clearly written to communicate to present and future teachers in Texas that curriculum and instruction must be student-centered rather than teacher-centered (see Figure 5.1). As we read through the proficiencies, the images that came to mind were that those strategies were active, hands-on, and experiential. Instruction needed to become meaningful, relevant, and constructivist in nature--quite the opposite of the images of the teacher as a "sage on the stage." Rather, the teacher now was to become a facilitator, a guide, and a coach.
How could university professors help develop future teachers as facilitators, guides, and coaches? Following a constructivist philosophy at the university level seemed to make sense--especially if we believed the adage that we teach as we were taught. That seemed to say to us that we ourselves