Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

The School-Based Activities Model: A Promising Alternative to Professional Development Schools

Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

The School-Based Activities Model: A Promising Alternative to Professional Development Schools

Article excerpt

Introduction

Partnerships, especially the Professional Development School (PDS) model, between institutions of higher education (IHE) and public schools (PS), have become, if not commonplace, a successful model for teacher education (NCATE, 2001; Sandholtz & Dadlez, 2002). PDS teacher education projects in which preservice teachers and higher education faculty participate in school-based instruction have been established as both desirable and effective (Sedlak, 1987; Teitel, 2003). However, implementing a PDS model in some settings often fails due to certain insurmountable challenges, most often related to resources and institutional structures (Abdal-Haqq, 1998; Holmes Group, 1990; Leonard & Leonard, 2003).

What we present in this account is documentation of our attempts, as teacher education faculty in a large, public institution, to overcome some of the challenges associated with the PDS model while at the same time developing stable partnerships with local schools. We describe here a model of college/school collaboration that requires significantly less faculty and financial investment than the PDS model. At the heart of this model are a series of school-based activities that require preservice teachers, early in their teacher preparation courses, to plan and implement small group instruction for elementary school children. This model represents a promising practice in teacher preparation which may have particular relevance for teacher educators in comprehensive colleges like ours, where teacher education faculty have heavy teaching and service loads. This model may also have appeal for schools and districts which are not quite ready or able to commit to the PDS structure, but wish to increase their interaction with local teacher preparation programs. We begin by framing our description of this promising practice with a discussion of the outcomes associated with the PDS model.

Benefits and Challenges of Professional Development Schools

The most positive outcomes of PDS partnerships have been mutually beneficial activities which integrate faculty development, preservice teacher education, public school curricula, and community participation to improve learning at multiple levels for multiple stakeholders (Abdal-Haqq, 1998; Clark, 1999; Holmes Group, 1990). Significant gains have been made in teacher preparation using this model (Herbert, 2004).

The major benefits of the PDS model include opportunities for collaboration between institutional partners and for professional renewal of IHE and PS faculty alike (Bohen & Stiles, 1998; Clark, 1999; Holmes Group, 1990). Additionally, working with preservice teachers, especially in a PDS model, provides avenues for professional growth for both novice and veteran teachers especially in the areas of curriculum development, use of new instructional methods, and support for trying new technology in the classroom (Clark, 1990; Hamlin, 1997). Public school teachers linked with IHE partners often rejuvenate their own teaching and can consequently provide a creative impetus for other PS teachers to improve their own instruction (Murray & Stotko, 2004).

Similar benefits come to IHE faculty, who are given contemporary, realistic views of PS children's development, as well as insight into communities and families (Bondy & Ross, 1998). Although general collaborations between IHE and PS faculty to prepare preservice teachers is commonplace, collaborations among higher education faculty themselves are somewhat limited (George & Davis-Wiley, 2000). While IHE faculty who work with PS partnerships indicate great gains for their professional growth, a more common report is the lack of substantive return in terms of the reward system of the IHE (Leonard & Leonard, 2003; Teitel, 1994). For faculty, especially novice ones, the lack of rewards, particularly in the Retention, Tenure, and Promotion (RTP) process at the university, may be a confounding factor in establishing or participating in the PDS model (Gundry & LaMantia, 2001; Holmes Group, 1995; Imig & Switzer, 1996). …

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