Creating New Avenues for Career and Technical Education Teacher Development

By Szuminski, Kathleen A. | Techniques, May 2002 | Go to article overview

Creating New Avenues for Career and Technical Education Teacher Development


Szuminski, Kathleen A., Techniques


"It was exciting when I first thought about a different avenue ... To prepare to teach an entire class all at the same time for different learners is very different than teaching one or two adults on the shop floor ... It's rewarding to see students succeed ... It's a whole new perspective ... but I'm learning."

The excitement, the challenges and the rewards of being a career and technical education (CTE) teacher are represented in these comments of Dave Denzel, second-year plastics injection program instructor.

Many high schools and career and technical education centers are facing their own challenges of improving student achievement, teaching content that is integrated with academics, meeting both industry and articulation standards, and working with a growing population of diverse learners--all with a teaching force that, increasingly, has not had the opportunity and benefit of traditional, formal teacher education.

Can the traditional boundaries of the university and school districts collapse, enabling collaboration to more readily meet the developmental needs of the growing number of new teachers entering the profession through alternative routes? At St. Clair County Technical Education Center (TEC) in Michigan, we are attempting to answer that question with a new model. We began the 2000-01 school year with 16 novice teachers--13 first-year and three second-year. This new teaching staff was the result of two primary factors. First, a district early-buyout incentive encouraged many teachers to retire, and, second, the operation of charter public school academies has been implemented in our center. Although our job postings searched for licensed teachers, filling our vacancies with traditionally and formally trained teachers who possessed a bachelor's degree and a vocational teaching certificate was highly unlikely given the current shortage in CTE teachers and the declining enrollment in university-based CTE programs.

St. Clair TEC has created a model for on-site teacher development to prepare and retain exemplary career and technical education teachers. The term teacher development is used to denote a broadened definition for activities encompassing traditional teacher education generally offered only at the university, teacher induction and relevant professional development into one cohesive set of activities. This model was designed to meet the needs of the new teachers who came directly from industry positions as teachers. Over the past two years, teacher development activities have been designed and implemented both internally and externally to improve classroom teaching and learning for students. Underlying principles that guided this model include:

* meshing teacher education, induction and professional development to create ongoing and meaningful teacher development activities for all teachers;

* creating job-embedded teacher development activities to avoid adding to the already overwhelming days of novice teachers; and

* committing both time and money to ongoing teacher development activities.

Core Characteristics

Two core characteristics are crucial to this pilot model--partnerships and ongoing support--with partnerships as its true core. The first partnership is academy boards that are comprised of local business leaders and TEC staff to flame valuable educational experiences for students and to modify the governance structure of traditional boards of education. These boards work collaboratively to provide direction to industry-based curriculum and to place TEC students into local businesses for job shadowing, paid summer internships and, often, long-term employment. Teachers and students directly benefit from this partnership, as do the business partners/board members.

With more teachers entering our building directly from industry, the need was created for our second partnership. Our school-university partnership involves a truly collaborative effort with Ferris State University (FSU) that allows us to bridge the gap between traditional teacher education preparation and daily, on-the-job educational experiences of TEC teachers. …

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