Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Teaching, Research, and Service in a Professional Development School

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Teaching, Research, and Service in a Professional Development School

Article excerpt

Mr. Clarke, a professor of education who has moved virtually all his work into the schools, finds a vibrancy to his day that is lacking at the university.

Squinting through frost stars on the windshield, I head north toward Essex High School. It is 6:30 a.m., still dark, and I am following the first rule: "Be there." The penetrating cold causes the steering wheel to squeak in my hands. I drive faster than is prudent, for I am familiar with the road and eager to arrive before 1,500 high-schoolers and my own university students fill every available space in the school parking lot. I easily beat the school buses to the river road, get snarled briefly in a traffic jam at the school entrance, and pull triumphantly into a space in the student parking area. I join teachers, university interns, and high school students - all of us scurrying toward the warmly lit doors of the flat brick building.

Teaching: Making a Difference

7:30 a.m. First task - making sure the undergraduates, now in their second day of ED 209 at Essex, are in happy pursuit of fruitful work with teachers and students.

I pass the Social Studies Department, noticing that one undergraduate and one graduate-level intern are deep in conversation with an American studies teacher, prepping for the day's class. Good. They're happy. In the "Brain Cell," a tutoring room set up by the school and the university to support students at risk, undergraduates are milling around in an uneasy pack, uncertain of whether to stay or to venture into the crowded hallway.

"How'd it go on Tuesday?" I ask the nearest undergrad.

"Great!" he responds. "I worked with Karen Hudson in her vocational class; the students were making speeches." He is waiting for me to give him directions. I just slap him on the back, and he is off toward the Vocational Center again. Others notice his departure and start picking up their packs, moving toward the door.

"How'd it go?" I ask another undergrad.

"I've got three kids in a reading group down in the Resource Room."

"Wow," I say. "Anybody reading?"

"They're starting to read." She smiles and disappears into the whirling mayhem of the hallway.

"Where're you off to?" I ask another.

"Can I go back to Mr. Goodrich's class?" she pleads. I chuckle. Less than 12 months ago, Mr. Goodrich was a university intern at Essex High School. Six months before that, he was a tutor in the "Brain Cell," just as she is now.

"Sounds great," I say. She's off.

An older student waits for the others to go their separate ways. He's a game warden with the Fish and Wildlife Service, preparing for retirement by earning a license to teach. "I've got a chance to work with Mark Paul in the life science class," he reports cheerfully.

"Boom!" I exclaim. "You're in."

"But he wants me to work the whole block, periods 3 and 4. That means I would miss the ED 209 seminar every other week." (Last year, largely because of findings from interns' research, Essex converted to a block schedule - a move that created havoc for the university partners but that greatly improved learning time for Essex students.)

"Just talk it over with your seminar instructor, so he knows what's happening," I advise.

"And somebody asked me to teach life science in the afternoon," he adds.

"Boom!" I exclaim again. "If you can work with whomever-it-is in life science and also with Mark's regular biology class, you'll be very close to earning an internship for next semester. But remember to hook up with your tutees." He's gone.

The Brain Cell is empty, except for a postbaccalaureate student setting up tutorials in the back room and a cluster of high school honor society students awaiting the arrival of their first-period tutees. I chat with one of them. It is now 7:45 a.m. School has begun, and I have held my first class.

The college juniors enrolled in ED 209 are my students, but I won't have them in class until next year, when they will take my course at the high school on the teaching of reading. …

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