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Tep Vol 26-N3

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Teacher Education and Practice, a peer-refereed journal, is dedicated to the encouragement and the dissemination of research and scholarship related to professional education. The journal is concerned, in the broadest sense, with teacher preparation, practice and policy issues related to the teaching profession, as well as being concerned with learning in the school setting. The journal also serves as a forum for the exchange of diverse ideas and points of view within these purposes. As a forum, the journal offers a public space in which to critically examine current discourse and practice as well as engage in generative dialogue. Alternative forms of inquiry and representation are invited, and authors from a variety of backgrounds and diverse perspectives are encouraged to contribute. Teacher Education & Practice is published by Rowman & Littlefield.

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16 Articles

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Editorial: Preservice Teacher Preparation—A Search for Who We Are as Teacher

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PATRICK M. JENLINK

We resolved to look inside ourselves, to retrace as many of the important twists and turns of the evolution of our species as we were able. We made a compact with each other not to turn back, no matter where the search might lead. . . . There was a chance that one or both of us might have to give up some of those beliefs we considered self-defining.

—Sagan and Druyan (1992, p. xiv)

“Who we are as teacher?” is a both a philosophical and a practical question, a question situated in the midst of complex societal issues and political, cultural contexts defining the larger geography of education. Philip W. Jackson, in The Practice of Teaching (1986), argued the point that “despite the ubiquity of teaching as an activity, there is no uniformity of opinion about it” (pp. 2–3). Upon first entering the classroom, the preservice teacher is all too often confronted by cultural patterns of the school, imprinted with dominate ideologies, unbalanced by the asymmetrical nature of power and knowledge, and challenged by the issues of difference, equity, and social justice. Very early in the preservice teacher’s experiences, he or she recognizes just how “unforgivingly complex” (Cochran-Smith, 2003, p. 4) teaching is. And early on, the preservice teacher recognizes that simple “isomorphic equations between teaching quality and test scores and between student learning and test scores” (p. 5) are prevalent and antithetical to how teaching had been envisioned early in the preparation program experience.

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Mentoring “Pre” Preservice Teachers in Third Spaces

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LISA SCHERFF, NANCY ROBB SINGER, AND ALAN BROWN

ABSTRACT: In this article, we explore findings from a semester-long online mentoring project between graduate students enrolled in a doctoral program and university students observing in local high schools early in their teacher education program. The project’s goals were to provide supervised mentoring experiences for doctoral students to better prepare them to mentor future preservice teachers and to provide teacher education students with support during their first school observations. We compare several groups’ online discourse strategies and levels of social presence to show how the discourse positively or negatively affected communication between the two groups of students.

Mar 8, 2009 8:15 pm

re: School Observations

Sam, Since you remember being in a class like this, what did you notice as a student teacher that you never noticed as a student? Do you think the teacher has given up on this student because they are labeled as “failures” from the start? What do you think about this? How would you approach these students who just don’t “do” school?—Jill

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Must We Take Student Teaching for Better or Worse? What Student Teachers Learn From Their Internships in Urban Schools

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PESHE C. KURILOFF

ABSTRACT: This article uses the blog entries of student teachers to examine what they learn during their internships. Data reveal how novice teachers, for better or worse, are socialized to conform to the status quo, thereby calling the current model for student teaching into question. The article argues that a better model for student teaching would include stronger, more mutually beneficial relationships between schools and universities and strategic use of the infrastructure surrounding student teaching to support school change. Instead of learning to maintain the status quo, student teachers could work with their cooperating teachers and supervisors to support collaborative efforts to improve school practice, which could have a positive impact on urban schools and teacher preparation programs. While the article focuses on practice in urban schools, the data support conclusions about the role of student teaching in effective teacher preparation in any environment.

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A Four-Tier Differentiation Model: Engage All Students in the Learning Process

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JANET M. HERRELKO

ABSTRACT: This study details the creation of a four-tiered format designed to help preservice teachers write differentiated lesson plans. A short history of lesson plan differentiation models is described and how the four-tier approach was developed through collaboration with classroom teachers and university faculty. The unifying element for the format came from response to intervention. In-service teachers experimented with the format and identified missing elements. Extensive data were gathered when the method was pilot-tested by a preservice teacher. Further data collections were made when graduate preservice teachers used the four-tier method. This collaborative process helped create a four-tiered format for lesson differentiation designed to help preservice teachers create lesson plans to engage all students in the learning process.

Teacher education systems strive to graduate preservice teachers with the skills to create lesson plans that can teach diverse populations. It is the responsibility of each classroom teacher to create learning opportunities for all students. The National Research Council (in Everybody Counts, 1989) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (in its 2000 call for “algebra for all”; Chioke, 2000) put forth the challenge for every teacher to be able to successfully create learning opportunities for all students. These articles were part of the drive to differentiate lesson plans to help all students learn.

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Course Structure Matters in Initial Teacher Education: Student Teachers’ Perceptions of Impacts on Their Learning

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LINDA HOGG AND ANNE YATES

ABSTRACT: This formative evaluation within a graduate initial teacher education program sought to identify student teachers’ perceptions of lecturer practice and its influence on their developing practice. Data collected from course and teaching evaluations and focus group interviews suggested that microstructural course elements—lectures, tutorials, and studio time—mitigated positive aspects of lecturer practice. Therefore, further data collection drew on course documents and video recordings of lectures to examine more closely the nature of course elements and their impact. Findings suggest that student teachers in a graduate program have a unique combination of prior knowledge and professional training needs. Therefore, appropriate course structures are needed that provide strong faculty support and are congruent with pedagogical theory.

We teach a compulsory course with a focus on general pedagogical knowledge in a graduate-level initial teacher education (ITE) program. In consideration of our roles as course designers, lecturers, and tutors, we conducted this evaluation to identify factors that student teachers perceived as influencing the quality of their learning experience, to further improve delivery for future cohorts. The research questions were as follows: What were student teachers’ perceptions regarding how the course lecturers “walked the talk”? and How did this affect their development?

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Investigating the Latent Structure of the Teacher Efficacy Scale

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AMY WAGLER AND RON WAGLER

ABSTRACT: This article reevaluates the latent structure of the Teacher Efficacy Scale using confirmatory factor analyses (CFAs) on a sample of preservice teachers from a public university in the U.S. Southwest. The fit of a proposed two-factor CFA model with an error correlation structure consistent with internal/external locus of control is compared to the historical CFA model. A majority of the historical problems with items not properly loading and/or with items cross-loading are avoided in the proposed model. Moreover, it exhibits superior fit and is more consistent with the theoretical foundations of the Teacher Efficacy Scale than past CFA models. Additionally, the effect of the internal/external locus-of-control dimension of the scale is confounded with the methodological effect of positive and negative wording. Future remedies for these confounding effects are discussed.

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Selected Canadian Preservice Teachers: An Analysis of Values

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THOMAS G. RYAN AND STEPHANIE ROBINSON

ABSTRACT: Value orientations of university students enrolled in an Ontario pre-service training program (education) were examined via gender and qualification program (division). The Rokeach Value Survey was administered to more than 100 university students in Ontario, Canada. Results indicated that there were differences in the value orientations of each gender and within some divisions. The examination of terminal and instrumental values revealed a number of convergences within divisions and within gender, which has been noted herein.

Our motivation and aim in this study was linked to a need to explore human values. We believed that the need to address human values is obvious, if we agree that “having a clear sense of what one values or counts as important, and living a life in accord with these values is something worth pursuing” (Katz, 2003, p. 11). To see the value in a study of values illuminates something about the authors and perhaps even the reader of such a study. To be aware of your own values is to be aware of your own “standards” of overt and covert behavior. The day-to-day practice of living a good life may require a person to follow these inner standards (values) to be content. Indeed, a “person’s choice of values and standards must be authentic; they must be true to who the person is as a person” (p. 11). Hence, to clarify and articulate values through research such as this can help educators, in this case, illuminate what matters to them while learning about who they are in contrast to others, as well as institutions and organizations that may list values to make public what they value and work to emulate (Katz, 2008).

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Preparing Candidates to Work With Diverse Learners: Experiences and Outcomes in a Graduate Literacy Program

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SALIKA A. LAWRENCE, GERALDINE MONGILLO, AND CARRIE EUNYOUNG HONG

ABSTRACT: We used qualitative methods to explore how a graduate literacy program prepares in-service teacher education candidates to support the literacy development of diverse learners in the United States. Using data from program evaluations collected in 2009 and 2010, coursework, rubrics, candidates’ work samples, and surveys from 24 respondents (a 34% response rate), we examined the program experiences where candidates work with diverse learners and whether the program prepared today’s teachers to meet the needs of diverse learners. Findings show that (1) interactions with diverse learners occurred as a scaffolding process as candidates progressed through the program, (2) candidates were provided with a range of authentic assignments to work with diverse learners, and (3) candidates had multiple opportunities to engage in authentic learning opportunities where they can hone their knowledge and skills for working with diverse learners. The experiences in this program led candidates to advocate for diverse students and their families by disseminating information and resources in their individual schools. Teacher education programs should provide integrated, ongoing learning opportunities for candidates to increase their understanding of diverse learners and their interaction with students from diverse backgrounds.

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Integrating Graduate Coursework to Prepare Alternatively Certified Teachers

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AMY J. HEINEKE AND DEBORAH PREACH

ABSTRACT: In this article, we describe our innovative work as teacher educators to integrate coursework for alternatively certified teachers. Rather than maintain boundaries among individual courses for new elementary teachers, explicit connections support first-year teachers’ professional learning and aid in the immediate application to classroom practice. Course integration included backward planning with shared goals, the combination of key topics and content, and the incorporation of common assignments and related classroom tasks. The innovation reflects the function of collaboration in higher education, where teacher educators work together to improve the professional learning and performance of classroom teachers.

Aspiring teachers have two general paths to join the profession and enter the classroom. Traditional paths of teacher preparation take place at the university and require an individual to be enrolled for 2 to 4 years in an undergraduate or graduate degree program. Alternative paths to teacher certification occur in various contexts (e.g., online, universities) typically after an individual has completed a non-education-related bachelor’s degree. Juxtaposed with the traditional path and the prototypical undergraduate teacher candidate, alternative certification programs aim to attract individuals from various ages, careers, and areas of expertise. In the United States, alternative certification programs developed to address teacher shortages in urban areas (Wilson, Floden, & Ferrini-Mundy, 2001) but have expanded to create a large pipeline of teachers in regions across the nation. Whereas only 6,000 alternatively certified (AC) teachers were employed in U.S. classrooms in 1998, 60,000 were employed in 2005, increasing at a rate of 20% each year (Feistritzer, 2007). The debate on the best approach to teacher preparation is currently on center stage in educational policy.

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Evolution of Observation: Implementing Programmatic Change

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DELANE A. BENDER-SLACK AND TERESA YOUNG

ABSTRACT: In the study reported, we examine the evolution of preservice teacher observation, focusing on the essential nature of observation to preservice teachers’ learning about teaching while in the field. The study was 3 years long, and it involved 79 preservice teachers during semester-long language arts methods courses in early childhood and middle childhood. A theory-to-practice tool was originated and used to assist preservice teachers. Data collected were analyzed with a content analysis technique. We contend that it is not enough to be placed in a classroom to passively observe teachers and students. Preservice teachers must engage in the act of observation and reflect on the importance of those observations in learning about teaching.

Field experience is an important component in teacher preparation programs. Preservice teachers are placed in contemporary classrooms in the hope of learning about teaching. While learning content, they observe cooperating teachers modeling pedagogy. According to Moore (2003), field experiences hold great potential for providing preservice teachers the opportunity to practice instructional decision making and reflective practice. In fact, a review of the development of teacher education programs emphasizes the importance of field experiences (McIntyre, 2009). “The internship, much like the apprenticeships of the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries, were developed with the philosophy of providing teacher education candidates the opportunities to test the educational theory learned at the university with practice in the classroom” (p. 10). What preservice teachers observe while in the field is essential to their learning about teaching.

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Assessment-Ready Preservice Teachers

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LYNN KELTING-GIBSON, KIMBERLY KARSTED, AND ANGELA HEWITT WEIKERT

ABSTRACT: As teacher educators search for ways to prepare future educators for the challenges of assessment implementation, we suggest that authentic practice by preservice teachers in an informal learning environment promotes assessment implementation. The analysis of 28 volunteer assessment students’ reflections revealed that practicing assessment strategies helped them understand the importance of guiding students through the learning process, using observation as a formative assessment tool, asking questions to determine if students understood the content, and connecting the informal learning environment to the formal.

It is the responsibility of educators to accurately determine their students’ knowledge gained throughout instruction in an ongoing capacity. Assessing students’ knowledge before, during, and after a unit allows the teacher to fully understand the strengths and weaknesses of his or her students and to make changes in instruction to meet the students’ needs through extra support. Teacher education programs are challenged with the task of teaching preservice teachers how to use assessments appropriately, what types of assessments are appropriate for a given situation, and how to interpret the assessment data (Graham, 2005; Stiggins, 1999). More often than not, assessment instruction is less application and more direct instruction in teacher education programs. Preservice teachers go out into the K–12 field lacking confidence and feeling ill-prepared to implement assessment strategies to inform instruction (DeLuca & Klinger, 2010).

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Cooperating Teachers’ Evaluation of Accredited Teacher Education Programs

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FRANK B. MURRAY

ABSTRACT: Cooperating teachers (n = 684) from 40 accredited programs rated the adequacy of their student teachers’ competence and some features of the institution’s student-teaching program. Their ratings were at the high end of a 5-point scale (4.0+) and showed that the teachers said that both their students and the program were more than adequate and often close to excellent with regard to the student teachers’ knowledge and skill. The teachers’ ratings of their own understanding of the program, the training they received, and their relationship with the program faculty were significantly lower but still in the adequate range of the inadequate-to-excellent scale. Those who reported that they were better trained and had a better understanding of the program were the most satisfied with the program students’ knowledge and skill and their preparation for successful teaching.

Student teaching has been a central feature of teacher preparation programs for most of the 20th century (Guyton & McIntyre, 1990), and many teachers credit it as the most influential component of their teacher education program (American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, 1990; Zimpher & Sherill, 1996). Most studies of student teaching have attempted to uncover the reasons for the candidates’ positive views of their experience by examining the beneficial effects that supervising teachers seem to have on their student teachers (Ariav et al., 1997; Borko & Mayfield, 1995; Bowers, 1994; Glickman & Bey, 1990; Gonzalez & Carter, 1996). Despite decades of such research, however, the National Research Council (2010), among others, has concluded that “reviews of previous research have failed to reveal any distinct relationships between the way field experiences are structured and implemented and teacher effectiveness” (p. 180)—the very purpose of the teacher education program. That the research on the effects of cooperating teachers remains inconclusive on any specific aspects of the experience that promote more effective teaching led the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (2010) to issue a “blue ribbon panel” report calling for a national redesign of teacher education programs, in which student teaching and other clinical experiences would be central and have the effect of “turning the programs upside down” (p. 2).

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Students With Disabilities in General Education Classrooms: Implications for Teacher Preparation Programs

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PEGGY GOLDSTEIN, BEVERLY WARDE, AND CARLA RODY

ABSTRACT: Given federal mandates, public school districts have adopted inclusive practices with the expectation that general education teachers can accommodate students with disabilities. For teacher preparation programs to prepare future teachers for this reality, it is important to understand the composition of a “typical” general education classroom. This study examined the distribution of students with disabilities and types of disabilities in 370 general education elementary classrooms used for student-teaching placements and the relationship between types of disabilities reported and the socioeconomic status of the schools. Results revealed a greater number and wider variety of students with disabilities in general education classrooms than previously reported. The proportion of general education classrooms in schools of high socioeconomic status reporting two categories of disability (speech/language disorders and autism) was significantly higher than in schools of low socioeconomic status. Results are discussed in regard to their implications for teacher preparation programs of study.

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Identifying What In-Service Teachers Want in Professional Development Experiences

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SHIRLEY MATTESON, LINDA REICHWEIN ZIENTEK, AND SERKAN ÖZEL

ABSTRACT: To be most effective, teacher professional development needs to be designed and based on teachers’ needs. This study provides information on topics that 53 middle- and secondary-level mathematics teachers believed would be beneficial in future training programs. The teachers had participated in a 2-year Teacher Quality Grant focused on content knowledge and teaching with technology. Professional development themes were identified from interviews conducted with 14 participants. Data were triangulated by incorporating their suggestions into a survey administered to all participants. These themes are discussed in regard to improving the professional development training of mathematics teachers.

Professional development (PD) has become an important factor in the continuing growth and success of beginning and in-service teachers. Effective teaching strategies, technological innovations, new curriculum resources, and the latest research on student learning have all been identified as topics for continuing PD for in-service teachers. Additionally, researchers have concentrated on how PD initiatives are implemented, evaluated, and modified (Darling-Hammond & McLaughlin, 1995; Guskey, 2003) and how effective PD programs are supported and sustained (Guskey, 2002). Educational researchers have focused on understanding what makes PD effective, but one aspect that appears underinvestigated is follow-up activities to already enacted PD sessions. This is the focus of the present study. To provide insights as to the next steps for PD, the in-service educators participating in a Teacher Quality Grant (TQG) were asked, “If you could improve one thing about the TQG training, what would it be and why?”

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Preparing Teacher Leaders in a Job-Embedded Graduate Program: Changes Within and Beyond the Classroom Walls

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ALYSON ADAMS, DORENE ROSS, COLLEEN SWAIN, NANCY DANA, WALTER LEITE, AND ROBERT SANDBACH

ABSTRACT: This article presents findings from a study about the perceived impact of a job-embedded graduate program designed to prepare teacher leaders within the context of university–district–school partnerships. Study participants completed a 30-item survey about impact of the program on instructional practices, collaboration with peers, participation in teacher research, and acceptance of leadership roles. Survey results indicate that graduates perceived changes in their abilities and actions related to teacher research, instructional practices and curricular design, and teacher leadership as a result of participation in this graduate program. Results also indicated that graduates perceived that their actions as leaders have an impact beyond their individual classrooms and the children whom they teach. The study has implications for the development of graduate programs to prepare high-quality teacher leaders who lead within and beyond classroom walls.

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Book Review

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(Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2012), 110 pp., $21.95 (paperback), ISBN: 978-1-61048-661-3

NOLA SCHMIDT

Do educators teach to the test? Is the design of our current educational system in the United States due for an overhaul? Are students prepared for life after public schooling? Are there alternatives? In his book Time for Action: Stop Teaching to the Test and Start Teaching Skills, Scott D. Wurdinger offers a compelling examination of U.S. public schools. The basic premise of the book is that students are not adequately equipped for success in life after high school, whether that life is a career or college. Wurdinger examines the focus on annual yearly progress for schools, noting that one of its indicators is student scores on standardized tests. Learning life skills such as creativity, problem solving, collaboration, and self-directed learning, Wurdinger asserts, cannot occur in a classroom where teachers are directed to teach to the multiple-choice, right-or-wrong test, which leaves students ill-prepared for a career or college. Wurdinger has therefore narrowed his emphasis in this book to one area of education: altering teaching practices and, by doing so, changing how student achievement is assessed.

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