Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Adapting Teacher Preparation Courses to Support High School Reform

Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Adapting Teacher Preparation Courses to Support High School Reform

Article excerpt

Moving teacher preparation programs into professional development schools has begun to change teacher education in the United States (Goodlad, 1993; Winitski, Stoddard, & O'Keefe, 1992). Conventional teacher preparation programs introduce prospective teachers to current theory and practice in a series of campus-based courses, followed by an intensive experience in practice teaching. In contrast, teacher preparation courses in a professional development school WDS) offer new and veteran teachers opportunities to test theoretical constructs from preparatory classes against the daily press of work with students (Stallings, 1991). Moving a teacher preparation program from a university campus to public schools should infuse the schools with a steady flow of new ideas, challenging both inservice and preservice teachers to adapt their practice to improve student learning.

Whether teacher education programs follow the precepts of the Holmes Group (1991), Glickman, Hayes, and Hensley (1992), or Goodlad (1993), the purpose of collaboration in a professional development school is to improve practice among both new and seasoned teachers, lending force and coherence to local school improvement plans and creating a center for the development of knowledge for the teaching profession.

In a Vermont professional development school, teacher candidates must learn to adapt theoretically promising techniques to always complex and often deeply entrenched local conditions. Sponsoring teachers must learn to integrate techniques brought to their classrooms by novices who understand only partially how their classrooms work. A professional development school creates in which universities and schools share in the preparation new teachers and where mutual renewal is a shared goal (Godlad, 1993). Simply transplanting university courses to the schools does little to improve practice in either setting. To support reform, teacher education faculty must redesign their courses to support ongoing experimentation in a setting that becomes inherently unstable as change takes hold. In this article, we describe the evolution of teacher preparation courses in six secondary schools in Vermont that are integrating teacher preparation programs with their school development plans.

The Evolution of Vermont's Professional Development Schools

Professional development schools in Vermont have evolved gradually from a commitment shared by schools and the university to support the growth of the teaching profession. Over 10 years of PDS development at the secondary level, schools and the university have agreed on a collaborative approach to change that places high value on improved teaching but allows each school set its own agenda. Local conditions vary, but the central principle remains the same: If teachers are consistently supported over time in a way that will allow them to develop and grow as they teach, they will gradually professionalize themselves (Leo-Nyquist, 1990, p. 1). Three recent adaptations of the preexisting campus-based program have allowed teacher preparation courses conducted in professional development schools to support school and professional renewal simultaneously:

* Integrated Practica: Each secondary education course includes a practicum in which interns test educational theory in practice and in which continuous testing forces personal theories to evolve.

* Results Orientation: Each course requires students to make something happen in the life of the school, to use what they are learning to make a difference among students and teachers.

* Professional Portfolios: Each course requires students to assemble evidence that they can contribute to student learning and school change (Dollase, 1996). Teaching interns must demonstrate mastery of learning from the teacher preparation curriculum in a school with its own unique character and evolving sense of purpose.

While school-based interns are completing their first teaching licensure requirements, teams of professional teachers in a PDS are involved in a school development course, conducting research over a full school year in support of school improvement (Clarke et al. …

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