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             A Belief Statement on University Pre-Service Teacher Education

                                     Josh DeSantis

                           Indiana University of Pennsylvania

                                 September 28th, 2011

 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

 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
      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).

          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

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).

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.


Center for Teaching Quality. (2010). Preparing to lead an effective classroom: The role of

       teacher training and professional development programs. Ipswich, MA: Berry, B.,

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Church, K. L. (2010). A course exploration: Guiding instruction to prepare students as change

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He, Y., & Levin, B. B. (2008). Match or mismatch? How congruent are the beliefs of teacher

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Hodge, A. (2010). Pre-service teachers' changing visions of themselves as reform-oriented

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Hong, J. Y. (2010). Pre-service and beginning teachers’ professional identity and its relation to

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Hughes, J. A. (2006). Bridging the theory-practice divide: A creative approach to effective

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Lambert, J., & Gong, Y. (2010). 21st Century paradigms for pre-service teacher technology

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McKenzie, R. G. (2009). A national survey of pre-service preparation for collaboration. Teacher

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Tait, M. (2008). Resilience as a contributor to novice teacher success, commitment, and

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Wei, R., Andree, A., & Darling-Hammond, L. (2009). How nations invest in teachers.

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