Research-Based Field Program for Teacher Preparation
At St. Edward’s University, we are uncovering more about what it takes to prepare and retain highly qualified teachers for the 21st century. The research literature (Darling-Hammond, 2006; Feiman-Nemser, 2001) indicates that the most successful programs focus on three critical areas. These three elements include: a) strong conceptual coherence at the programmatic level, b) the integration of theory and practice using a clinical supervision model and, c) foundational partnerships between university and schools that anchor developing teachers in diverse urban settings. Over the last six years, our work in the secondary teacher preparation program has centered on developing a clinical field-based model (Holmes group, 1990; Goodlad, 1993; NCATE, 2001) that centers on research-based strategies for teacher preparation. In the paragraphs below, we will provide a description of how the three themes listed above have served as beacons for our program.
In order to build continuity and coherence for our secondary program, we have created a sequence of semester-long blocked field-based classes that prepare our students to examine and practice contemporary ways of teaching and learning. The first block in the sequence is held at the middle school level and includes eight hours a week of coursework in literacy assessment and classroom teaching methods. At the site, university instructors blend university lectures and discussions with internships in actual classrooms. Success in Block One leads to Block Two. This takes place at a local underserved high school and includes eight hours at the field site and four hours at the university campus per week. The format is similar to Block One, with a blend of university instruction and internship in the content area. Pre-service teachers at this level are expected to design, enact and analyze instruction related to current content in the classroom. The final block (Student teaching) is designed as a capstone to the earlier field experiences. It includes a schedule of gradual responsibility for teaching multiple classes of students each day and lasts for 13 weeks in the field. Students are responsible for preparing lesson plans weekly and are observed by university faculty multiple times. The blocked courses are co-designed by Education Faculty with secondary teaching experience and include a shared focus on how contemporary theories about teaching and learning mesh with the rough and tumble practice of teaching in a diverse setting.