Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

A University-Community Partnership in Teacher Education from the Perspectives of Community-Based Teacher Educators

Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

A University-Community Partnership in Teacher Education from the Perspectives of Community-Based Teacher Educators

Article excerpt

Abstract

This article examines the experiences of a group of nine community-based mentors of teacher candidates who partnered for several years through a local, community-based organization with the graduate elementary and secondary teacher education programs at a research university in the Pacific Northwest. Following a brief discussion of the history of partnerships between teacher education programs and local communities, we report the findings of a study of the perspectives of these community mentors on their work with teacher candidates and university teacher educators.

Keywords community teacher educators, multicultural teacher education, preservice teacher education, social justice

Teacher Education and Communities

Schools cannot teach children well if teachers lack an understanding of their students' cultures and lives, and if they lack meaningful relationships with their families. (Warren, 2005, p. 134)

For nearly 70 years, recommendations about good practice in teacher education have included the preparation of teachers to work with students' families and to learn about their communities, and to structure teacher education programs in ways to enable teacher candidates to access the expertise within families and communities. For example, the influential 1948 "Flowers Report," sponsored by the American Association of Teachers Colleges, argued that clinical experiences in teacher education should include experiences for teacher candidates in both K-12 schools and in the broader communities served by these schools (Flowers, Patterson, Stratemeyer, & Lindsey, 1948). This report gave much attention to various kinds of community experiences for prospective teachers to enable them to better utilize community agencies and resources in the school program, to help them leam about their students and their families, to foster a greater sense of community service among both teachers and students, and generally to help break down the barriers between schools and communities by creating more community responsive schools.

Similarly, the Association for Student Teaching's (1) publication, "The Student Teacher's Experiences in the Community" (Blair & Erickson, 1964), outlined a rationale for expanding clinical experiences beyond schools into local communities as well as a set of suggested activities for doing so. This report asserted the importance of teachers knowing and using the community and its resources designing the school curriculum and planning learning activities, and it argued that the student teaching experience needs to be used, in part, to help teachers leam how to do these things.

Other influential reports such as AACTE's Institute for the Advanced Study of Disadvantaged youth, "Teachers for the Real World" (Smith, 1969), addressed another dimension of community engagement in teacher education and advocated for the inclusion of local communities in teacher education programs on an ongoing basis where community members share responsibility for organizing and operating the programs in a school-, university-, and community-owned structure called the training complex. The complexity of engaging the community as a partner in college and university teacher education is highlighted in this report.

Though it is important that the community play a responsible part in planning and conducting the training complex, this is often more easily said than done. Even a university that is most sympathetic with the needs of the community, and is eager to get the help of the population might find it difficult to actually work together with members of the community ... Faculty people have to learn, therefore, how to involve community members early in the planning stage rather than later, and how to demonstrate their own sincerity rather than merely talk about it. (Smith, 1969, p. 97)

Finally, in 1969, educational historian Larry Cuban published an important paper "Teacher and Community" (Cuban, 1969) in which he articulated the values and commitments about the connections between teacher preparation and local communities that undergirded the Cardozo Project in Urban Education in Washington, D. …

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