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Running head: EFFECTIVE INSTRUCTION AND SUPERVISION AT THE UNIVERSITY LEVEL A Belief Statement on University Pre-Service Teacher Education Josh DeSantis Indiana University of Pennsylvania September 28th, 2011 1 Instruction in teacher preparation programs should be authentic. If their program values constructivism, student engagement, collaboration, critical reasoning, social action, or technology enhanced instruction, then teacher educators should model these values or strategies during their own lessons. Teacher educators and teacher candidates frequently report having different values and beliefs regarding effective instruction and teacher roles in the classroom (He & Levin, 2008). Consistency between a teacher educator’s expressed values and instructional actions can help narrow this gap. Teacher educators should continually assess the efficacy of the theories and techniques they deliver to pre- service teachers by continuing to teach lessons or research practices in K-12 classrooms (Hughes, 2006). Teacher preparation should build resiliency and efficacy among future educators. A strong sense of efficacy can allow teachers to be proactive and manage the wide array of challenges and potential setbacks they will face in their work (Tchannan-Moran & Woolfolk Hoy, 2001). High levels of self-efficacy are not enough for novice teachers, who will inevitably encounter situations their experience and sense of self efficacy do not prepare them for. Pre-service teacher programs should prepare candidates for inevitable setbacks by identifying challenging scenarios in observations or visual media and identifying appropriate strategies for managing these situations (Tait, 2008). These strategies may include the construction of support networks, stress management strategies, and problem solving skills. Teacher educators should integrate instructional technology during class sessions and when planning assessed performances by teacher candidates. Instructional technology transcended its role as an optional support for teachers and is now an essential element of effective classroom instruction. Teacher-educators should account for this by placing technology at the center of their programs (Stobaugh & Tassel, 2011). Pre-service preparation should include instruction in specific instructional technologies and provide models and opportunities for pre service teachers to integrate instructional technologies into lessons (Lambert & Gong, 2010). Teacher candidates should be prepared to engage in collaborative work as part of a school community through modeled and scaffolded opportunities to work together during their pre- service program. Very few preparation programs require their students to take a course that teaches specific collaboration strategies. Many of the programs that do offer a collaboration course do not facilitate cross discipline cooperation (McKenzie, 2009). Schools from high achieving nations like Denmark, Finland, and Japan seek collaborative teacher participation at all levels of the education process including lesson planning, professional development, and curriculum writing (Wei & Darling-Hammond, 2009). Educational reform in the United States should value the collective voice of teachers and reinvigorate efforts to form collaborative partnerships among teachers in schools. Pre-service teacher training should include preparation for working with other teachers in cooperative environments. Teacher candidates should grapple with contemporary and historical problems related to education and should be prepared to participate in local, state, and national educational debates. The pre-service experience can influence teacher candidates and pre-dispose them to take reformist positions in debates surrounding education (Hodge, 2010). Pre-service teachers should be prepared for these debates by cultivating their own positions during their program. Teacher-educators can help candidates form their own teacher identities by assigning action-research, self-directed inquiry, or service learning projects. Teachers with a strong sense of their own identities are more likely to be active participants in broad educational debates (Church, 2010). 2 A Belief Statement on Effective Instruction and Supervision at the College Level My student teacher was having a tough week. She managed to catch criticism from a parent, attitude from a student, and a cold on Monday. Her eighth graders, stirred by an early flash of warm Spring air, dismantled two carefully crafted lesson plans on Tuesday and Wednesday. Her university mentor surprised her with a visit on Thursday, and arrived in time to see her coaxing a student off of his desk. By Friday, she was privately questioning her career choice. During our weekly reflection time I reminded her that all teachers have endured similar challenges and, though these trials may diminish in frequency over time, all teachers encounter them throughout their entire careers. I asked her if anything in her training had prepared her for these setbacks. Though she initially responded no, I continued to ask her questions about her experiences during her pre-service program. Slowly, she revealed aspects of the teacher identity she built during her training, including a strong belief that all students can learn and a faith in her own ability to find the means necessary to make help make that learning happen. Our conversation reminded me that all teachers are defined by the choices they make during challenging times. Unprepared teachers might emotionally divest themselves from their classrooms, lose interest in improving their instruction, or leave the profession all together. Well-prepared teachers learn from their setbacks, return to the foundational identity they built in their pre-service programs and use that foundation to plan new avenues to student learning (Hong, 2010). The difference between a well-prepared and an unprepared new teacher is often the training and guidance they received during the pre-service teaching programs. Well-prepared new teachers benefit from watching master-teachers employ effective instructional strategies during their undergraduate training. They also enjoy a high degree of self-efficacy and resiliency 3 that can get them through difficult times. They value educational technology and are prepared for meaningful collaboration with administrators, parents, and other teachers. My student- teacher got through her week, and went on to become a very successful educator, because she received thoughtful preparation and developed a strong teacher identity with the help of teacher educators during her pre-service experience. Teacher-educators can help new teachers build their identities by modeling effective instructional strategies and helping them to identify educational values that they find important. An important component of identity formation is the authenticity of the teacher-educator. New teachers are likely to identify dissonance between the values expressed by a professor and their actions (He & Levin, 2008). Teacher-educators can maintain their authenticity with new teachers, and improve the fidelity of their and their student’s values by continuing to teach and study K-12 students (Hughes, 2006) and using instructional strategies that are in line with the values they advocate for their students. Pre-service candidates should also be encouraged to develop a teacher identity through their participation in action-research, self-directed inquiry, or service learning projects (Church, 2010). Teacher-educators should encourage candidates to formulate an evidence-based opinion on contemporary debates in education. Realistic teacher-educators also recognize the limits of their abilities to prepare pre- service teachers for every scenario they are likely to encounter in the classroom. This reality makes it important for teacher educators to foster a sense of self-efficacy among new teachers (Tchannan-Moran & Woolfolk Hoy, 2001). Teacher educators can foster self-efficacy by designing frequent opportunities for their pre-service teachers to have mastery experiences during their training. It is also important for teacher-educators to prepare new teachers to respond to unplanned setbacks by helping new teachers to generate resiliency (Tait, 2008). 4 Teacher educators should frequently identify common classroom disappointments and challenges faced by many teachers and help new teachers to develop resiliency strategies to help them weather difficult times. Teacher-educators should ensure that pre-service teachers communicate effectively in a school environment. Proficiency with instructional technology is no longer an optional support for teachers and is now an essential element of effective school communication. Teacher- educators should account for this by placing technology at the heart their instruction (Stobaugh & Tassel, 2011). Teacher educators should use current educational technologies in their instruction and model how to integrate those strategies into lesson plans. Teacher-educators should also instruct pre-service candidates in methods of effective collaboration. Pre-service training can help new teachers communicate as members of teams by modeling effective collaboration techniques and providing frequent opportunities for candidates to cooperate. As guides to the teaching profession, we serve an essential function in the American education system. A growing body of evidence suggests that the quality of preparation pre- service teaching candidates receive correlates to their effectiveness as classroom teachers (Center for Teaching Quality, 2010). I believe that successful teacher preparation encourages teacher candidates to build a teacher identity, efficacy, and resiliency. We should model research- supported instructional strategies, education technologies, and collaboration techniques, then design opportunities for candidates to have mastery experiences while applying their new skills. My student teacher persevered through her difficult week by returning to the foundations she built with the guidance of great teacher-educators. The training she received during her pre- service experienced allowed her identity, confidence and, skill to shine through the fog of her first teaching challenge and propel her to her teaching career. 5 References Center for Teaching Quality. (2010). Preparing to lead an effective classroom: The role of teacher training and professional development programs. Ipswich, MA: Berry, B., Daughtrey, A., & Wieder, A. Church, K. L. (2010). A course exploration: Guiding instruction to prepare students as change agents in educational reform. InSight: A Journal of Scholarly Teaching, 515-26. He, Y., & Levin, B. B. (2008). Match or mismatch? How congruent are the beliefs of teacher candidates, cooperating teachers, and university-based teacher educators?. Teacher Education Quarterly, 35(4), 37-55. Hodge, A. (2010). Pre-service teachers' changing visions of themselves as reform-oriented teachers. Current Issues in Education, 13(4), 1-19. Hong, J. Y. (2010). Pre-service and beginning teachers’ professional identity and its relation to dropping out of the profession. Teaching & Teacher Education, 26(8), 1530-1543. Hughes, J. A. (2006). Bridging the theory-practice divide: A creative approach to effective teacher preparation. Journal of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 6(1), 110-117. Lambert, J., & Gong, Y. (2010). 21st Century paradigms for pre-service teacher technology preparation. Computers in the Schools, 27(1), 54-70. McKenzie, R. G. (2009). A national survey of pre-service preparation for collaboration. Teacher Education & Special Education, 32(4), 379-393. doi:10.1177/088840640 9346241 Stobaugh, R., & Tassell, J. (2011). Analyzing the degree of technology use occurring in pre- service teacher education. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, 23(2), 143-157. 6 Tait, M. (2008). Resilience as a contributor to novice teacher success, commitment, and retention. Teacher Education Quarterly, 35(4), 57-75. Tschannen-Moran, M., & Hoy, A. (2001). Teacher efficacy: Capturing an elusive construct. Teaching and Teacher Education, 17(7), 783-805. Wei, R., Andree, A., & Darling-Hammond, L. (2009). How nations invest in teachers. Educational Leadership, 66(5), 28-33.
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