Academic journal article Education

A Teacher Candidate Induction: Connecting Inquiry, Reflection, and Outcomes

Academic journal article Education

A Teacher Candidate Induction: Connecting Inquiry, Reflection, and Outcomes

Article excerpt

Introduction

The National Commission on Teaching and America's Future (1996) used the analogy of a "three legged stool" to describe the preparation and continuing development of teachers. The commission envisioned the first leg supporting the improvement of teaching as the accreditation of teacher education by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. The second leg envisioned were standards for initial teacher licensure such as those recommended by the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium. The final support for the improvement of teaching was a set of standards for the teaching profession developed by the National Board for Professional

Teaching Standards.

The well-thought intentions of NCTAF have been challenging to implement in the current atmosphere of educational reform. Calls for alternative licensure, dissatisfaction with student achievement outcomes, and debates over the nature of the professional education of teachers combined with a shortage of teachers prompted the State of Colorado in 1999 to legislate Senate Bill 99-154, the Performance Based Teacher Education Act.

The University of Colorado at Denver responded with a redesigned teacher education program. One change placed teacher candidates in professional development partner schools on the first day of their program without the traditional coursework in methodology and professional issues that had preceded school internships in the former program. This article deals with an induction week process developed to ease school entry for teacher candidates and meet the concerns of partner schools. We describe our experience from the perspective of professional development partner school practitioners implementing this change.

Implications of Redesign for Partner Schools

The UCD teacher education program would now begin during a first induction week in a partner school setting and be directly followed by an internship classroom assignment. The first semester of university coursework building on the induction week would begin two weeks later. In a sense, the induction week at the partner schools would become an abstract for the on-campus courses to follow.

As school and university-based faculty considered the implications of beginning the program directly in the partner school, an increasing concern with the lack of methodological, ethical and legal preparation of the entering teacher candidates surfaced. There was general agreement on a number of topics that needed to be addressed during this week. However, each individual partner school had its own local issues that they felt should be included as well. As a compromise, each site was tasked with developing its own specific plan for the induction week. This plan would address the collective concern to maintain program efficacy and at the same time allow the inclusion of site-specific topics.

The high school site hosting the induction week described in this article, has been a partner with UCD for eight years. The school is a four-year comprehensive suburban high school serving a diverse and culturally rich student population. Faculty and staff members provide a standard high school curriculum offering a wide range of opportunities for 2,300 students.

The high school annually hosts 15-25 teacher candidates from the UCD program. Of the seven teacher candidates assigned to the school for the initial term of the redesigned program, all were Caucasian, over the age of 24, and three were female. Two had prior classroom experience and two had Ph.D.s in scientific fields.

Developing an Induction Week Plan for the High School

The high school induction week planning team of two site coordinators and a site professor considered the context of the school, the needs of the new program, and our experience working with teacher candidates when designing induction week activities.

Reflection had been an important foundation of the former program and we hoped to continue practices enhancing reflection as we made the program transition. …

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