Academic journal article Education

Promoting Preservice Teachers' Success in Classroom Management by Leveraging a Local Union's Resources: A Professional Development School Initiative

Academic journal article Education

Promoting Preservice Teachers' Success in Classroom Management by Leveraging a Local Union's Resources: A Professional Development School Initiative

Article excerpt

Few in the field of preservice teacher education would disagree that classroom management issues consistently surface as a prevailing concern for novice teachers. As numerous research studies have documented (Brophy & Evertson, 1976; Doyle, 1986; Latz, 1992; Veenman, 1984), preservice teachers entering their student teaching experiences frequently report feeling inadequately prepared to effectively manage a classroom. Preservice teachers complain that they receive little to no specific instruction in classroom management, yet when classroom management is incorporated into university teacher education undergraduate courses, it is often perceived as too theoretical or disconnected from the "real world" of classrooms.

Extensive research has revealed that preservice and inservice teachers' frequently identify their experiences in the field as moments when most of their learning about teaching occurred (Danielson, Kuhlman, & Fluckiger, 1998; Feiman-Nemser, 1983, Feiman-Nemser & Buchmann, 1985; Fry & McKinney, 1997; Ross, & Smith, 1992). Additionally, preservice teachers often believe their university professors to be too far removed from or unaware of the realities of contemporary classrooms. Rather, "real" teachers are K-12 teachers, the teachers "in the trenches". Given this, embedding attention to classroom management issues in field-based experiences, such as student teaching, may be an optimal time to address preservice teachers' perceived needs in the area of classroom management.

This article describes an initiative that grew out of a Professional Development School (PDS) partnership and which draws on expertise and resources available through the local chapter of the professional organization (union). By looking to existing structures and resources already in place in the corporation to support preservice education, we were able to embed formal classroom management instruction taught by experienced classroom teachers within the student teaching experience. Relationships established through the Professional Development School initiative enabled a leveraging of resources available through the local union's Educational Research and Dissemination Division. This collaboration provided student teachers with opportunities to acquire research-based classroom management strategies while immersed in actual middle and high school contexts thus resulting in a powerful and effective blending of theory and practice.

The Alpha Professional Development School Initiative

Located in the midwest, Omega State University' enrolls approximately 23,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Nationally recognized for its teacher preparation efforts, Omega has over the past decade established a Professional Development School network with 9 school corporations involving 14 elementary schools, 4 middle schools, and 6 high schools. In addition, Omega has also partnered with institutions such as a local cultural center, a child development center, and a Children's Museum.

In 1999, the Alpha Community School Corporation officially partnered its two high schools with Omega State University in a Professional Development School initiative. Located approximately thirty miles from the university, each high school enrolls between 1,300 and 1,500 students in grades 9-12. With approximately 42% minority representation, 65% of the student population qualifying for free or reduced breakfasts and lunches, and 35% identified as special needs, Alpha Community School Corporation's classrooms provide rich sites in which to train future teachers.

Aligned with the Holmes Partnership (1986) model of Professional Development School collaborations, the Alpha Professional Development School initiative chose to concentrate its initial efforts on revising the educational experiences provided for preservice teachers who complete their practicum and student teaching field experiences in their middle and high schools. …

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