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Article

Sylvia Chong and Saravanan Gopinathan

Establishing and maintaining teacher quality in Singapore is a process-oriented strategy that requires good policies at the macro level and effective processes at the implementation level. High teacher quality requires rigorous entry requirements, effective evidence-based preparation, and continuous professional development and support at the school level for teacher professionalism. Further adequate compensation and incentives to upskill or reskill are essential. These policies and practices are especially important in this era of challenging pedagogic reform, evolving views of learning and new roles for teachers as learning designers. Teacher policies and practices contribute to the high standing of teachers in Singapore and the consistent high performance of Singapore students in international assessments.

Article

Etta Hollins, Jamine Pozú-Franco, and Liliana Muñoz-Guevara

The central purpose for teaching is advancing the quality of life on planet earth through the organized transmission of intergenerational collective and cumulative knowledge combined with further developing the academic and intellectual capacity of the present generation for building upon and extending existing knowledge, as well as developing new knowledge. Teaching supports the development of the whole person academically, intellectually, physically, psychologically, and socially. This includes developing the ability to take care of one’s self and to support the needs of family and community. Competence for classroom teaching requires consistently demonstrating adequate subject matter knowledge, professional knowledge, and knowledge of learners for facilitating the growth and development of learners from diverse cultural and experiential backgrounds, and learners with special needs. Knowledge of learners includes familiarity with the home and community cultures, the resources available in the local community, prior knowledge from within and outside school, the research and theory about child and adolescent growth and development, and the aspirations and challenges embraced by both students and their communities. Teacher preparation programs purposefully designed to support transforming urban schools and communities contextualize professional knowledge and practice for teaching students from cultural and ethnic groups that have been traditionally underserved, isolated, oppressed, who live in poverty or urban areas, or who have experienced cultural and linguistic imperialism. Purposeful teacher preparation provides candidates with a well-designed, interrelated, and developmentally sequenced progression of professional knowledge and learning experiences that foster the development of deep knowledge for learner growth and development. Examples of purposefully designed teacher preparation programs ensure that candidates have deep knowledge of their personal cultural heritage and language. In the teacher preparation program, candidates learn to make connections between the school curriculum and the cultural traditions, values, practices, and ancestral knowledge from their personal cultural heritage. Candidates learn to apply their understanding of these connections in developing pedagogy and learning experiences for students with whom they share a personal cultural heritage and ancestral knowledge. Through this process candidates learn principles of teaching practice that can be transferred to teaching students with a different cultural heritage and ancestral knowledge. Learning to apply specific principles of practice across cultural groups is developed through shared experiences with peers in the teacher preparation program from different cultural groups and through engaging in guided teaching experiences with students from different cultural groups. Important goals embedded within this approach to teacher training are preserving and restoring the cultural heritage of students and improving the quality of life in the local community and the nation.

Article

The global move toward advanced strategic, constructivist, and sociocultural orientations to student teacher learning is reflected in the stated vision, mission, and curricula of local teacher education contexts worldwide. Six major themes in teacher education programs worldwide are integral to this vision: the establishment of school–community–university partnerships; bringing more of school practice focused on pupil learning into the preparation of future teachers; a shift from a focus on teaching and curriculum to a focus on learning and learners; the inclusion of activities that promote reflective practice and the development of the teacher-as-researcher; the design of academic and school spaces for fostering teacher learning that attends to social justice and inclusion; and the preparation of teacher educators and the provision of mentoring frameworks to support student teacher learning. Among the challenges shared across contexts is the need to strengthen partnerships in education, structure stable mentoring frameworks, adopt a more focused approach to student teacher placement, and better articulate expectations for student teaching. Notwithstanding these challenges, promising directions include the establishment of more meaningful links between universities, schools, and communities; developing programs that deal with authentic teacher preparation through injury- and-research-informed clinical practice, and providing mentoring models that involve different community stakeholders.

Article

Lawrence J. Maheady and Angela L. Patti

Teacher preparation programs are undergoing a shift from knowledge-based to practice-based, meaning the emphasis is on what teacher candidates can do, rather than what they know. In light of this movement, high leverage practices (HLPs)—a set of core practices that educational experts agree all teachers should be able to do upon entering the teaching field—have been developed in several different educational areas (e.g., general education and special education). As experts develop sets of HLPs, they identify practices that (a) are researched based, (b) are often used by teachers during the school day, (c) can be applied across grade levels and subject areas, (d) are fundamental to student learning, and (e) can be taught, practiced, and developed to some degree of fluency by teachers entering the profession. The idea is that these practices can be used as a core curriculum for teacher preparation programs. While initial work with HLPs is promising, additional questions must be answered before moving forward. Institutions of higher education that choose to use HLPs to frame their teacher preparation programs need to determine (a) which HLPs to use, (b) how to integrate HLPs into the program, (c) how to assess teacher candidate fluency with HLPs, and (d) how to evaluate the effects of HLPs on P–12 students. As these questions are answered, further light can be shed on what truly makes a practice worthy of the designation “high leverage.”

Article

In light of the need to prepare reflective and effective teachers who can differentiate their instruction to support the learning of all students in inclusive classrooms, this article describes the collaborative process faculty have used to incorporate universal design for learning (UDL) and evidence-based practice (EBP) into an inclusive teacher education program’s curriculum and practicum experiences. Initially, faculty mapped the curriculum by agreeing upon a common definition of UDL and EBP, reviewing the research to create EBP documentation charts, which were used to constructing self-assessment tools known as innovation configurations (IC). Faculty used the IC to identify and address the strengths and gaps within the program’s courses and clinical experiences and align courses with online interactive instructional resources related to UDL and EBP. To bridge the gap between research and practice and guide educators in making evidence-informed decisions, faculty developed a 10-step practice-based evidence assessment and instructional model to collect and analyze classroom-based data about the efficacy, acceptability, and fidelity of one’s instructional practices and use of UDL and EBP. Faculty revised and field-tested a lesson plan template that prompted educators to personalize their instruction and make it more explicit by addressing such factors as student diversity and collaboration, and employing UDL, EBP, instructional and assistive technology and formative and summative assessment. Faculty also redesigned the program’s lesson observation form used to better evaluate preservice teachers working in inclusive classrooms and provide them with feedback related to their effective use of EBP, UDL, instructional and assistive technology, and assessment and classroom management strategies. The lesson observation form also was revised to make it more reflective of the program’s curriculum reform efforts related to the use of UDL and EBP, and to align it with the national teacher education accreditation standards, national and statewide teacher evaluation, curriculum and teacher education certification standards.

Article

Linda Blanton and Marleen Pugach

Dual certification refers to a teaching license both for general primary and/or secondary education and special needs education simultaneously. This term is unique to the United States, where licensure policy has traditionally offered options for teacher candidates to earn an initial stand-alone license in either general or special needs education, and contrasts with initial teacher education policy patterns outside the United States, where teachers are not typically permitted to earn an initial license for special needs education alone. Various forms of dual certification have existed in the United States for many decades, but until recently they were not the norm. Contemporary teacher educators and policymakers in the United States have adopted and encouraged dual certification as a way of supporting the preparation of teachers for effective inclusive teaching. As a result, dual certification is viewed as a means of restructuring and expanding the entirety of the preservice, initial teacher education curriculum to become highly responsive both to the increasing diversity of students and to the wider range and more complex needs of students who struggle in school, among them students with special needs. Because dual certification addresses the vital question of how best to prepare initial teachers for inclusive teaching, its fundamental, underlying concerns transcend specific national structural or policy issues regarding licensure. Instead, dual certification reflects a focus on the content of initial teacher preparation writ large regarding what kinds of redesigned, reconceptualized clinical, course, and curricular experiences might be most effective in preparing teachers for high-quality inclusive teaching practice. Dual certification calls into question the nature of teacher expertise, challenging basic beliefs about where the responsibility of general education teachers ends and where that of special needs education teachers begins. In this way, dual certification can be viewed as a specific national policy vehicle that addresses common international concerns for developing appropriate preservice curricula that are responsive to the demands of inclusive educational practice. Implementing dual certification is not without its challenges, however, as reflected in some of the early and ongoing attempts at implementation. Therefore, it is critical both to anticipate potential pitfalls as well as to identify potential solutions that are appropriate to the fundamental purposes of preparing teachers for inclusive practice.