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Improving Teacher Preparation and Credentialing Consistent with the National Science Education Standards: Report of a Symposium (1997)

Chapter: A Principal's Perspective on the K-12 School's Role in Preparing Teachers

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Suggested Citation:"A Principal's Perspective on the K-12 School's Role in Preparing Teachers." National Research Council. 1997. Improving Teacher Preparation and Credentialing Consistent with the National Science Education Standards: Report of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5592.
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teaching throughout their professional lives. In order for this to be accomplished, it is essential that bridges are built between the education faculty and the content faculty involved in teacher preparation. We tend to know our own area. Discipline specialists know developments in science, but may not know about current recommendations in science education.

The State of Minnesota Framework for Education of Teachers of Mathematics and Science was developed to communicate clearly common, statewide goals for the preparation of teachers in mathematics and science. The framework describes five areas important to teacher preparation programs that will transform teacher education: content, pedagogy, students, an environment for learning, and the process of professional development.

Within each of those five areas, the framework addresses four questions. First, "What are the knowledge and skills individuals need to acquire?" Second, "What are the experiences that these individuals need to have in order to acquire those knowledge and skills?" Third, "What are the roles and responsibilities of faculty throughout the university?'' And fourth, "What are the characteristics of a university that produce accomplished beginning teachers?"

Teachers are the key to effective reform in science and mathematics education. The education of mathematics and science teachers is the responsibility of an entire institution, and the successful transformation of science and mathematics education will require strong and sustained support from many individuals over time. For example, convincing the dean of a college of science and technology to buy into the necessary changes for educating teachers implies change within the entire college. The dean must understand that in the end, successful efforts to reform teacher preparation programs ultimately will enhance the education of every student who attends the university.

When working with stakeholders from different communities, we must remember that everyone is an expert in a different area and has ideas that need to be valued. One of the most important messages to take away from this conference is the need to establish communities of learners composed of all the individuals involved in teacher preparation. The first step in building this community of learners is to establish an environment of trust and respect within and between university colleges, departments, and the local K-12 teachers and administrators.

A Principal's Perspective on the K-12 School's Role in Preparing Teachers

Mary Ann Chung, Principal, Sunrise Valley Elementary, Fairfax County, Virginia

In the Fairfax County Public School system, each elementary school has lead teachers for science, social studies, and mathematics. Lead teachers attend in-depth programs and then are supposed to provide turn-around training in

Suggested Citation:"A Principal's Perspective on the K-12 School's Role in Preparing Teachers." National Research Council. 1997. Improving Teacher Preparation and Credentialing Consistent with the National Science Education Standards: Report of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5592.
×

their own schools. But at the school level, principals still need to provide that precious resource of time. Turn-around training is not effective when it is reduced to one after school in-service. Where do the teachers find the time to learn new teaching strategies, let alone the time to create visions? My vision was to meet the professional development needs of teachers in my building within the time constraints of the school day.

At Sunrise Valley Elementary, the staff had worked together for a long time. There was a climate for readiness—to think about how to reduce the pupil/teacher ratio and to provide opportunities for teachers to create visions and to grow as professionals. We developed strategies to create a ''community of learners" by way of a partnership with Marymount University, establishing a professional development academy at our school. Creating this academy—a community of learners—has resulted in some wonderful achievements. For example, there is one intern for every teacher in our building. That intern stays with the same teacher all year long, not just for six or twelve weeks, and has the opportunity to be totally immersed in the school environment.

The teaching staff wanted professional development, and the interns helped make it possible. Once the interns became accustomed to the students and the routines of the class and the content, they could supervise the classrooms, enabling teachers to have professional development activities right there at the school site during their regular contract hours.

The interns are also learning. They are learning from the sophisticated questions experienced teachers ask in their own staff development sessions and from the teachers as they apply their pedagogical content knowledge. The teachers have the opportunity to go back minute by minute, reflecting on their practice. They think about why they did something when they answer the intern who asks, "How did you ever make that child do whatever?" or "I have been working with Jimmy for two days, and he still has not learned fractions. How can I improve?" Both the intern and the teacher are constantly reflecting and learning.

Education professors are out in the school every day. They come to the school in the afternoon to teach their university courses. They send a coordinator or director of the elementary program out one day a week. We all meet together regularly, and the teachers and interns constantly assess the program and make changes.

One of the comments interns have about the experience is that while they were in the university setting, they would be asked to design lesson plans, but there was no audience, no way to test the plan, and no need to refine it. They were creating in a vacuum. Now they are in the school setting. When they design a lesson, the interns learn both to implement and assess the plan. They also can reflect on how well it works.

Suggested Citation:"A Principal's Perspective on the K-12 School's Role in Preparing Teachers." National Research Council. 1997. Improving Teacher Preparation and Credentialing Consistent with the National Science Education Standards: Report of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5592.
×
Page 15
Suggested Citation:"A Principal's Perspective on the K-12 School's Role in Preparing Teachers." National Research Council. 1997. Improving Teacher Preparation and Credentialing Consistent with the National Science Education Standards: Report of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5592.
×
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