This week I have been reflecting on my experiences at the Albuquerque summer conference. I felt my interactions with conference participants were productive and inspiring! Our conversations about our teacher educator practices within the clinical aspects of our roles were very meaningful for me as I observed validation of the important roles we assume in developing teachers. I came away from the conference motivated and energized to do more in my role to connect with the school-based teacher educators who host our teacher candidates in their classrooms. The keynotes were the catalyst for affirmations about the important work ATE is engaged in with regard to our identity as teacher educators and the standards we have set in our discipline of teacher education for high quality clinical preparation of teachers.
How can I capture the essence of what transpired for me in this conference?
Too often I have come back from a conference and failed to savor and capture what I call the “gems” of my experience. I take this opportunity in this Blog to reflect on the keynotes to crystallize those “little gems” that were meaningful to my practices. The keynotes, in particular, were pivotal for me in framing the next generation of our work together in educator development. The summer conference provided four great general keynote sessions:
John McIntyre (Emeritus Professor Southern Illinois University Carbondale): Saturday Opening General Session Keynote Title: The Evolution of Clinical Practice in Teacher Education
John revealed his own professional development journey and the key mentors along the way that solidified his identity as a teacher educator. Each of us should engage in reflecting on our development and identity as a teacher educator. John had the good fortune during his Master’s degree experience to be mentored by Jim Collins the “father” of Teacher Education Centers, which are now what we call Professional Development Schools. In this context, John learned clinical supervision practices and later during his doctoral studies was assigned to work in a Teacher Education Center at Southern Illinois University under the leadership of our own icon - Billy Dixon. John’s scholarship since then has been renown in student teaching and field experiences. He has co-authored many book chapters and co-edited many versions of the Handbook on Teacher Education which represent a longstanding legacy of teacher education research since the first edition (see reference - Guyton & McIntyre, 1990).
I did not know many of the historical points that John shared about the history of what was labeled back then as “teacher training”. The first school devoted to “training” teachers was started in 1823 by Sam Hall in Concord Vermont. Since then we have seen the gradual evolution toward what we now term “teacher preparation” which encompasses more than just “training” someone to copy a specific protocol. John shared many “gems” from key reports that were the precursor to the standards we embrace today such as the publication titled: School and Community Laboratory Experiences in Teacher Education (aka) the Flowers Report (1948) that presented a research-based set of standards for teacher education programs (i.e. to learn more about the history of ATE Standards for Teacher Educators and the seminal “Flowers Report see ATE publication: A Brief History of Standards in Teacher Education).
Examples of the principles the Flowers report recommended were that:
- field experiences needed to integrated with coursework;
- candidates should be supervised through a 5th/induction year;
- supervisor assignments should be practical given time required to adequately supervise an intern and limited to coverage of no more than 18 interns;
- student teacher’s progress should be assessed on a continuous basis;
- cooperating teachers should be prepared with skills needed to mentor a developing teacher;
- universities and schools should be working collaboratively in delivery of the program; and
- clinical work should be recognized and included in faculty load.
How about that for what was considered standards for clinical practices in 1948 – 70 years ago! The historical background that Dr. McIntyre shared reminded me of ATE’s initiatives in development of standards for teacher educators and field experiences. He noted how today the ATE standards have undergone revisions but also confirmed they have “stood the test of time”. Our ATE standards present to members a robust set of research-based practices that set the bar for exemplary clinical practice. A key “gem” for me was John’s charge to us to be models in our supervision and mentoring practices in actualizing our standards (see Teacher Educator Standards and Field Experience Standards)
And to bring us into the present Dr. McIntyre highlighted the following key areas of emphasis that are emerging from new reform reports and research about quality clinical preparation for teacher candidates:
1. Emphasis on providing the best school environments for placements of our students. John noted that we cannot place students anywhere. Teacher candidates must be in schools that are welcoming and reach out to developing teachers.
2. Emphasis on the student teaching triad to be working together to address P-12 learning. This is the area where John noted that the triad needs to be working together to focus on providing opportunities for teacher candidates to engage with their supervisors and mentors in addressing learning needs of the pupils.
3. Emphasis on providing the resources needed to administer the clinical portions of a teacher preparation program (i.e. teacher educator development in mentoring and supervision practices and provision of the needed staffing; and integrated curriculum in tandem with the clinical experiences delivered at the school sites).
John reminded us of the scholarship we have engaged in over the years with regard to clinical practice. And we must acknowledge that ATE recently published empirical research as a result of the ATE Commission on Clinically Based Teacher Preparation [i.e. see The Power of Clinical Preparation in Teacher Education -2018). And of note was our coalition partner – AACTE’s 2017 Commission report – A Pivot toward Clinical Practice that lays out a set of proclamations that frame clinical practice as the center of teacher preparation program design. Both publications integrate clinical practice in educator development as the essential element for preparation program design and implementation.
In sum, John helped us understand the evolution of ATE scholarship and the complementary work with AACTE as efforts to articulate the next generation reforms espoused by the Blue Ribbon Panel (2010). John was able to crystalize the following key recommendations of this seminal report that set the bar for high quality teacher preparation:
a) teacher candidate learning needs to take place in professional learning communities; b) clinical experiences designed for teacher candidates should be focused on pupil learning; c) clinical faculty should be rigorously selected and prepared. This process should be the norm for both school and university based teacher educators; d) teacher candidates should be prepared to teacher diverse students in culturally relevant ways; and e) teacher preparation should be delivered through strong partnerships with schools that include opportunities to engage in research and inquiry.
Dr. McIntyre’s charge to us was to go back to our campuses and reflect on our clinical practice program designs to measure them against ATE Standards for Teacher Educators and Standards for Field Experiences. I am reminded there is much in our past that we need to take into account in quality program practices and designs.
Muffet Trout: Sunday General Session Keynote Title: Bridging Boundaries Through Care and Reflective Practice
Dr. Trout has engaged in self-study research using Nel Nodding’s ethical care theory as the framework for studying her own practices as a teacher educator. The dimensions she explored with us in her keynote were part of her study of enactments of culturally relevant pedagogy with her students. Muffet prodded us to consider our responsibility as teacher educators to study our own practices. Thus, she advocated that we do more with regard to self-study as a “systematic approach to understanding our practices as teacher educators” (i.e. citing Todd Dinkelman’s (2003) definition).
Muffet’s presentation gave me new insights into my own supervisory practices that carried through Dr. McIntyre’s charge to be good models through enacting “care” practices in supporting the development of the novice teacher. I connect these ideas to Sharon Feiman-Nemser’s work that claims “how teachers learn, shapes what they learn.” (Feiman-Nemser, 2011). Muffet further instilled the notion that by preparing our novice teachers through a framework of care they in turn will enact these same practices in the relationships they build with their students. I would add to this that the way teacher candidates are mentored and supervised will also influence how they engage and interact with future colleagues and developing teachers.
Dr. Trout’s message to us was that the clinical practice work we engage in is all about building relationships through caring. She explained that, “Caring is part of what Aristotle termed phronesis – acting for goodness by moving attention away from ourselves to focus on the needs of the other”. However, she made a distinction that caring is not just about “being nice”; care pedagogy requires that we be honest and hold to high expectations for the progress of our students. And she taught us new dimensions of caring that are deeper attributes of this construct such as: caring habits – help us when caring is hard – addressing issues from a stance of what we know to be best for the individual’s growth and progress; caring knowledge – that which is held in the body yet visible to others in our interactions (i.e. anger, love, sadness, joy); and caring imagination that which allows us to overcome through our actions and words(i.e. Martin Luther King – I have dream speech; Maya Angelou – And Still I Rise). These are my own connections to her talk.
Thus, Dr. Trout emphasized that to build trusting relationships requires ways to understand the other and for the teacher educator the key practice is “Talk less; Listen More”. Through real-life examples from her own experiences in teaching teacher candidates, Muffet provided concrete examples of ethical care practices that changed the dynamic of the relationships with her students to one of trust and acceptance. For example, she changed her syllabus to better meet the needs of her students and gave them the opportunity to shape the curriculum and how they learned it; she acknowledged her own lack of understanding about the lives of her students and invited them tell their story and how they were interpreting their world. Thus, Muffet showed how she analyzed her key practices from a variety of data sets – from interviews with her students, reflective journal notes, artifacts from her course design and lessons. Her analysis helped her to identify a set of relational pedagogies that are examples of enacting culturally relevant teaching through caring practices. This is clearly a new dimension of clinical practice that I want to explore and learn more about. I will be following her scholarship to learn and improve my work.
Trenia Walker, Cheryl Torrez, Majori Krebs, and Rebecca Sanchez – University of New Mexico and Cecilia Hernandez and Blanca Aroja – New Mexico State University:
Monday Luncheon Panel Title: Clinical Practice – Preparing the New Teacher for Today’s Classroom
The luncheon panel gave me insights regarding how in the midst of intense state regulation and alternative pathways to teaching credentials provided in New Mexico, two institutions are holding fast to designs that provide quality teacher preparation. Representatives from the University of New Mexico (UNM) and New Mexico State University (NMSU) shared exemplary models of clinical preparation program designs. We learned about the graduate teacher preparation residency program in place at UNM: a partnership between UNM, New Mexico Public Schools and Albuquerque Teachers Federation. This program is supported by a grant from the National Center for Teacher Residencies (NCTR) as part of its U.S. Department of Education Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) federal grant. Within this model is an intensive mentoring program that selects high quality master teachers who are paired with a resident. NMSU integrates Bilingual education and endorsement in TESOL as part of their 24 credit licensure program in which all students complete a language acquisition course and have clinical experience in reservation schools.
What a wonderful thread began to be drawn across the examples of clinical designs from each institution that were shared:
- Both institutions are intentional in focusing clinical experiences for teacher candidates in high needs' schools. Both institutions shared examples of how their teacher candidates are being prepared in the diverse communities in which we need exemplary teachers.
- Both institutions are engaged in nurturing close community-school partnerships.
- Both institutions have been active in securing state and federal funding to provide resources to support the more intensive mentoring and clinical designs. The types of clinical designs that were shared included: providing intensive mentoring of teacher candidates through careful matching and selection of master teachers and co-teaching models; using grant funds to support embedded faculty assigned to teach, mentor, and supervise candidates in the schools; offering introduction to education courses with field experiences in educational settings to open access for all students to learn about the field of education; and providing equity in supervision and mentoring supports for alternative route candidates even though the program does not require it.
These are but a few examples of the ways in which our teacher educators are maintaining high standards for their practices regardless of regulatory constraints and pathways to teacher licensure. They provided examples of how they enact what they know are best for preparation of our future teachers. And they showed us how, through their program designs that they know what it takes to prepare a teacher for a long-term career and commitment to the teaching profession! YES – we can do it!
Rebecca Burns – University of South Florida: Tuesday Closing Brunch Title: Beyond Superficiality: Fundamental Changes for Actualizing Clinically Based Educator Preparation
Becci’s keynote gave us the WOW and Punch that threaded together the keynote sessions into a holistic understanding of the reality that teacher educators need to embrace in today’s school contexts – that University and School-Based Teacher Educators need to be “together” in the addressing the learning needs of pupils.
Dr. Burns built on the previous keynote sessions calling on us to embrace modeling and enacting a pedagogy of care with our mentor teachers and school leaders. She cited research by Gimbert and Nolan (2003) that outline pedagogical routines and practices supervisors can do to invite the school-based mentor into a partnership. Dr. Burns built on the theme of care pedagogy proposing that we apply this same framework in our work with school-based mentor teachers – talk less; listen more to engage them as colleagues. We need to be, in her view, focused on developing the next generation of teacher educators.
Dr. Burn’s scholarship embraces her work as a professional development school coordinator and supervisor of teacher candidates within a PDS. She shared some of her experience as the facilitator and supervisor in a low-performing professional development school that was in danger of a corporate takeover. Her story proved to be an exemplar of developing the type of trusting relationships needed to transform a low-performing school into a well-performing school. Becci’s story provided an example of a clinical setting that was more than what she called the “handshake” model of school-university partnerships, but rather an example of a partnership framed by “We are in this together model.” We learned about clinical practice in a context of a low-performing school in which teacher candidates engaged in problem-solving alongside their mentor teachers to address the learning needs of their pupils. Becci’s call was for us to work on changes in “mindset” for rethinking our clinical models and roles in teacher preparation. Dr. Burns gave us a reality check in noting that the current trends are indicating that university-based teacher preparation programs are in danger of becoming extinct. There are signs of distress on the system and a sense of disengagement by teacher education faculty as universities provide less funding and resources to maintain the robust clinical models that are part of clinically-rich preparation programs. WOW! A wake up call here!
As a professional development school university-based teacher educator, Dr. Burns called for a shift in mindset. She explained that change in mindset represents a fundamental shift from working in schools or just placing students in schools to actually working with schools that need the most resources and supports to address mutual needs and problems. To begin the transformation, Dr. Burns called for us to begin to enact a “pedagogy of care” with our schools and mentor teachers to align our preparation program with their curriculum and with their pupil’s learning needs.
Her challenge to us was to rethink our roles and to be involved and willing to be in schools as teachers, mentors, and supervisors who are seen as colleagues providing additional resources to a school. I was greatly inspired by her message to us to engage in a “pedagogy of care” with our schools and to advocate for what we know is good clinical preparation. We may not be able to move big mountains, but we can, within our contexts, do smaller acts of care that may prove to be part of a larger transformation for us as teacher educators.
There is so much more that I intend to unpack from my conference experience which I will continue to reflect on and share in the Blogs to come. If I could sum up the general feeling that emerged for me from this conference experience it would be “satisfaction and gratitude”. Satisfaction in the meaningful discourse we engaged in together; gratitude for the participants who contributed their time and expertise to make it all happen. In particular, gratitude to my two conference Co-Chairs – Linda Austin and Cecilia Hernandez! I hope for those who were able to experience the summer conference that it was an opportunity to validate what you do and confirm the powerful impact you have on developing teachers. Many new ideas were generated about the new dimensions emerging in our clinical practices. So my new resolutions are to:
- Model ATE standards in what I do;
- Talk less and listen more to my teacher candidates and mentor teachers;
- Champion collaborative program designs that provide robust clinical experiences
- Adopt a pedagogy of care for my teacher interns, supervisors, mentor teachers and schools.
There is much work ahead for teacher educators in advocating for what “WE” know is exemplary teacher preparation. We must hold fast to this territory of practitioner knowledge and research. I look forward to what unfolds regarding this theme in the annual conference in Atlanta in February!
References of Interest to Share:
Dinkelman, T. (2003). Self-study in teacher education: A means and ends tool for promoting reflective teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 54(6), 6-18.
Feiman-Nemser, S. (2011). Teachers as learners. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
Guyton, E. & McIntyre, D.J. (1990). Student teaching and school experiences. In W.R. Houston (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Teacher Education, (pp.514-534). New York: Macmillan.
National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. (2010, November). Transforming teacher education through clinical practice: A national strategy to prepare effective teachers. Washington, DC: Blue Ribbon Panel on Clinical Preparation and Partnerships for Improved Student Learning.
Gimbert, B., & Nolan, J.F. (2003). The influence of the professional development school context on supervisory practice: A university supervisor’s and intern’s perspectives. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 18(4), 353-379.