Academic journal article High School Journal

Secondary Student Teaching and the Supervised Experience

Academic journal article High School Journal

Secondary Student Teaching and the Supervised Experience

Article excerpt

Kagan (1988) reports that the student teaching and intern experience is usually one to three semesters and includes work with a cooperating teacher and a university supervisor. Student teachers and interns nationally have similar experiences in that they routinely assume responsibility for teaching one or more classes of students, and they meet regularly with their university supervisors, most frequently after the supervisor has observed the student teacher's classroom performance. Based upon her earlier work with student teachers and field experiences, Kagan (1992) continues to examine teacher growth by drawing the analogy between the training of teachers and counselors. She discusses the training of teachers in terms of what Rogers (1957) calls the helping or therapeutic relationship. This relationship, of course, refers to the triad referred to above among the student teacher, the university supervisor, and the cooperating teacher. Although Kagan points out that the relevance of Roger's concept to the field of counseling is obvious, an understanding of this helping or therapeutic relationship to student teachers and interns is equally appropriate.

It is within this context of helping or therapeutic relationships that this study is framed. Bernard (1979) discusses three roles for the supervisor of counselors-in-training and Kagan (1992) draws a direct connection to these roles for supervisors of teachers-in-training, too. These roles -- teacher, counselor, and consultant -- are often referred to in the professional literature on supervision under different terms, but Bernard's discussion focuses on teaching as a way of instructing and shaping cognitive growth; counseling as a way to provide emotional support and to encourage personal insight; and consulting as a way to share professional perspectives.

There is no question that the importance of the student teaching triad -- the student teacher, supervisor, and cooperating teacher -- is widely accepted. The work environment and context are similar to the numerous triads in existence at any time (Guyton & McIntire, 1990). As Enz, Freeman and Wallin (1996) point out, however, research has failed to make clear the central roles and responsibilities of the university supervisor. However, it would appear that Kagan's (1992) determination of the three primary tasks of novice teachers serve as foci for supervisory practice. These three tasks are as follows: (1) acquisition of knowledge of pupils, which most novice teachers do not have; (2) use of that knowledge to modify and reconstruct their personal images of self as teacher since their image of self as teacher is poorly developed or developed not at all; and (3) development of standard procedural routines that integrate classroom management and instruction, a development which is essential to the novice's success in the classroom and school.

An examination of supervisory roles supports Kagan's assertion that supervisors help student teachers develop in each of these areas. For example, in a recent study, Enz and others (1996) determined that perceptions of the supervisor's basic roles and responsibilities did not differ among student teachers, cooperating teachers, and university supervisors who worked in elementary or secondary schools in the study. They identified three domains of university supervisor responsibility, which are very similar, if not identical, to Bernard's: mentor role, interpreter role (e.g., facilitate triad's feedback conferences), and professional resource role (e.g., confer with cooperating teacher about the student teacher's progress). All three groups identified the mentor role as the most important (e.g., observe student teacher's lesson and provide feedback, provide moral support and encouragement for student teachers).

The university supervisor nurtures and supports the student teacher, who is almost always working away from the university or college. When pre-service teachers are in university classrooms, which tend to be traditional, they work within well-established patterns of professor-student interaction. …

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