Integrating Technology with Practice: A Technology-enhanced,
Field-based Teacher Preparation Program
State Initiative Centers for Professional Development and Technology
This report describes the development and structure of the Texas Education Collaborative (TEC), which was established at Texas A&M University as a means of restructuring the teacher preparation program and improving public education. The TEC was funded as part of a statewide initiative calling for a series of centers to foster collaboration between K-12 and higher education institutions and the incorporation of technology into the educational process.
Texas has recognized a need, as have most states, for the systematic restructuring of its educational system to meet the needs of a changing society and world community. As part of its response to this need, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) funded a program to develop such centers throughout the state. The program for these centers was established by the Texas State Legislature in 1991, enabling the State Board of Education (SBOE) and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to establish competitive procedures for one or more institutions of higher education to establish a center. The initial allocation for the centers was $10.2 million. To qualify, centers needed to include a university with an approved teacher education program, members from public schools, regional Education Service centers, and other entities or businesses. Eight centers were approved by the SBOE in 1992, six in 1993, and three in 1994. Currently, this collaborative effort includes 31 institutions of higher education, 7 junior colleges, 15 regional service centers, and 193 campus sites.
Focus of the State Initiative
The state of Texas, like most states, is currently undertaking a general review of teacher preparation and certification processes. Texas is a culturally diverse state, with the school population spread out over a wide and diverse geographical area. For example, El Paso is closer to Los Angeles, California, than it is to Beaumont, Texas, and closer to two other state capitals (Phoenix and Sante Fe) than it is to the Texas capital, Austin; and Amarillo is closer to four other state capitals (Sante Fe, Oklahoma City, Topeka, and Denver) than it is to Austin. Texas is divided into 254 counties with 1,063 school districts and 6,322 public schools (972 high schools, 955 junior high, intermediate, or middle schools, 3,618 elementary schools, 743 elementary and secondary schools, and 34 schools in correctional institutions). As a means of aiding these districts, the state is divided into 20 geographical regions, each with an Education Service Center (ESC) that has support staff, services, and training for all of the school districts located within its boundaries.
Consideration, partly related to this diversity, is being given to processes and certification requirements, which may vary from one region to another according to the needs of the particular geographical areas, a
consideration that has potential for a variety of outcomes. Other factors influencing the acceptance of multiple certification requirements are related to philosophical, political, and financial concerns.
The centers were established to take a leading role in the revision of the certification process. They are intended to improve teacher preparation through the integration of technology and the development of innovative teaching practices and staff development programs throughout the state's colleges of education. This initiative was based on the premise that the success of schools and students is directly linked to the success of the state's teacher preparation programs. All centers are to focus on five components: collaboration, restructuring educator preparation, staff development, technology, and addressing the needs of a multicultural student population.
Collaboration between the institutions of higher education and K-12 institutions is to be a major component of the centers' activities. Classroom teachers are to serve as mentors and role models for their interns; teachers, principals, and ESC personnel may help develop courses, teach, or co-teach university courses at their home base or at the university. University professors are to be in the schools as resources and consultants, and to learn from the mentor teachers. The governance structure must reflect the cultural diversity of the state, and no category of representation may be larger than the K-12 teacher representation.
The intended restructuring of educator preparation programs, in conjunction with the collaboration emphasis, is focused primarily on establishing programs and instruction that are field based. New programs are also to include regular collaborative decision making by all partners; an emphasis on teachers as lifelong learners; routine use of technologies (multimedia, computer based, long-distance telecommunications technologies); research and development of new technology-based instructional techniques; and innovative teaching practices in multicultural classrooms. These developments are intended to influence several major components in the structure of teacher preparation programs, including the composition, location, and structure of methods courses, the constitution of the teacher preparation faculty, the role of technology, and the cultural diversity represented.
The following presents a comparison of traditional preparation approaches to program components found in the various centers.
To help ensure complete success in restructuring education, these centers are also to include major staff development components that will provide in-service training to practicing teachers. A major emphasis of this staff development effort is on helping teachers to become lifelong learners. Thus, by keeping current throughout their teaching careers, these teachers will be able to teach their students the skills that they will need to be successful in the twenty-first century. In this way, student achievement will be linked to teacher performance, and both will be enhanced through campus improvement plans.
Another major initiative is the incorporation of technology into the centers to expand the delivery of instruction in the K-12 classroom and in teacher preparation classes. Coupled with field-based instruction, this endeavor will help to prepare students majoring in education to teach in the classrooms of tomorrow. The centers are also to provide for the development of new technology-based instructional techniques and innovative teaching practices. Through direct contact with these activities, in-service and pre-service teachers will learn the appropriate skills and will be encouraged to integrate technology into their teaching practices.
Multicultural education provides information about various groups as well as the skills needed to work with them. To provide cultural diversity and adequately prepare in-service and pre-service teachers, the centers are required to implement public school programs and services that reflect diverse cultural, socioeconomic, and grade-level environments. The inclusion of minority teacher candidates in the centers' recruiting and training efforts will also be a high priority, particularly in subject areas where teacher demand exceeds supply.
Systemic Development and Evaluation
Each center is implemented and evaluated in an ongoing developmental program involving K-12, higher education, and state constituents. This collaboration reflects the program's commitment to systemic change and recognizes that all shareholders must be involved if adequate systemic change is to occur. To provide programs and services throughout the state and prepare teachers to meet the full range of learner diversity and needs, the State Board of Education funding requirements for the centers indicate that funding may be made to centers by geographical areas. This is particularly important in a state as culturally and geographically diverse as Texas.
These centers have also been identified as one of the critical communities to be involved in a program of professional development grants under the Texas Statewide Systemic Initiative. The centers will thus provide a structure for subsequent, related initiatives and help ensure that the needs of education will be met throughout the state.
Each center is required to develop an extensive ongoing evaluation design composed of both internal and external evaluations. Progress reports to the Texas Education Agency are required from each center quarterly as well as annually. Visits by statewide evaluators are conducted to review the progress of the centers regarding the five main componentscollaboration, restructuring educator preparation, staff development, technology, and multicultural education. Both qualitative and quantitative data are to be considered in the statewide evaluation of the centers' activities and progress.
The Texas Education Collaborative
The Texas Education Collaborative (TEC) was established in 1992 as one of the eight original centers funded by TEA. There are currently 17 Centers for Professional Development and Technology throughout the state. In the first year, the TEC partners included two universities with approved teacher education programs, Texas A&M University and Prairie View A&M University, in collaboration with eight schools representing five independent school districts; two state Regional Education Service centers; a community college; and parent and business representatives. The five independent school districts were Bryan I.S.D., College Station I.S.D., Conroe I.S.D., Somerville I.S.D., and Waller I.S.D. Original business partners included Apple Computer, GTE, IBM, 3M, and Digital Equipment Corporation. The goals and activities of the collaborative were established in conjunction with the TEA guidelines and included the following components.
Teacher Education Programs and Environments for Teaching and Learning
State-of-the-art Teaching Practices, Curriculum, and InstructionalKnowledge
Governance Structure of the TEC
The governance structure will include teachers, administrators, education service center staff, and university faculty and administrators. This structure is to reflect the cultural diversity of the state. The coordinating council is composed according to TEA requirements, including the provision that no one group be larger than the K-12 teacher group.
The initial funding allocation was for 1 year, with subsequent funding potential for 4 additional years. The first 2 years of the TEC were funded at $2 million; $1.5 million of this was slated for equipment and the remainder for personnel and operating expenses.
The equipment expenditures represent the need to equip faculty and classrooms with computer and related technologies to foster important, needed changes in teaching and operating activities. A number of compressed video sites for two-way video teleconferencing and instruction were established and utilized for instruction.
Summary of TEC Activities
During the 1992–93 year, the TEC activities focused primarily on the acquisition and setup of technology hardware and software at university and school sites, training in the use of the technology, and development of collaborative structures among school and university faculty. Activities included technology staff development at school and university sites, technology conferences for school and university faculty, frequent sharing meetings, collaboration within and among schools, team-building activities, a retreat for school and university faculty to develop a shared vision for restructuring teacher preparation, and development of proposals for five programs related to various aspects of restructuring.
Technology Hardware and Software Acquisitions
The bulk of the first year's acquisitions were computers, productivity software, network hardware, and support multimedia presentation resources. These resources were considered necessary to prepare teachers and university faculty in the use of technologies in order to begin the process of changing teaching activities in classrooms at both levels. If student teachers are eventually to use such technologies in their classroom activities as teachers, they will need to experience such benefits as learners. All teacher preparation university faculty received computers for their offices to encourage the transformation of their daily activities. In addition, fully
equipped laboratories, networks, and multimedia workstations were established for faculty and student use. Classroom presentation stations were also provided to ensure infusion of these technologies into the actual teaching process. Computer teaching laboratories were updated for undergraduate and graduate educational technology classes. Consequently, student teachers would ultimately learn about the use of technology, learn from technology based materials, and learn with technology through their own developmental projects. A similar model was maintained for teachers and students in the schools.
Table 1 gives a breakdown of the number of computers acquired during this period.
The second year's equipment purchases, using the remainder of the initial $1.5 million equipment budget, included more computers for faculty, teachers, and classrooms. Additional faculty became involved in the TEC activities and were equipped with the necessary hardware and software. The multimedia workstation labs were enhanced with more and more powerful computers and support hardware. Additional software was provided for the development of presentation and instructional materials. Multimedia presentation stations were acquired for classrooms in the various curriculum units to support the use of technologies in methods classes and additional portable presentation units were provided for instructional use throughout the college. E-mail systems were established and incorporated into a major part of the communication process. Again, parallel resources were acquired for the classrooms in the participating schools and were used in a wide variety of activities by teachers and students. Several local computer networks were established in the schools to support instructional and management functions. Software consisted primarily of productivity packages (word processing, spreadsheet, database), presentation packages, hypertext development programs, and graphics production packages.
A major component for the delivery of instruction and faculty training was the acquisition and establishment of a compressed video teleconference network linking schools in the participating districts with the university and one another. At least one school in each of the participating districts was supplied with a complete teleconferencing station and the necessary support components. These sites were established in association with the Trans-Texas Teleconferencing Network (TTVN), which is centered at Texas A&M and has sites located throughout the state. This association greatly enhanced the ability to quickly create a functional network and provided an extensive network for instruction and conferencing for meetings and supervision of students in the field. This provided additional opportunities for collaboration between university faculty and teachers and students in the schools. Each teleconference site provides two-way video and audio communication with the addition of interactive video and computer-based materials that can be viewed and accessed at any of the participating sites in a session. Table 2 presents the timetable for the establishment and initial use of these teleconferencing sites.
Year Three (First Quarter)
As the TEC began its third year, the focus was shifting from technology and skill acquisition to the development of applications and programs. The majority of the equipment was purchased in the first 2 years of
the program. Recent acquisitions were directed at improvement of existingfacilities through software purchasesand upgrades, memory upgrades, video boards, and so on. Two extensive networkfacilities and file serverswereacquired and are currently being established as a resource forcommunications and resource delivery. Thefocus in technology resources is now on keeping up with new advances inhardware and software and on meetingmaintenance concerns such as monthly charges for telecommunications and videoteleconference activities. Fiveschools were added during the past year as evolving TEC sites and willcontinue their involvement, and six moreschools were added as evolving TEC sites this quarter. These eleven schoolsreceived $13,000 each in start-upfunds for equipment and staff development. Table 3 gives a breakdown of theresources in the current TECinventory.
Staff Development: Teachers, Administration, and University Faculty
Each TEC school site council held at least four meetings during 1992–93. Each council included at least site coordinators, two teachers, a principal, and business, parent, and ESC representatives as voting members. Ex officio members are university liaisons and other university and school district representatives. Main topics of discussion during these meetings were the definition of roles, technology (acquisition of hardware and software, networking, access, demonstration), staff development, budget expenditures, and field experiences for teaching candidates. Discussions at TEC staff meetings focused on issues of alternative, authentic, and integrated assessment as well as implications of such assessment techniques on classroom context and curricular reform.
Several individual faculty and administrators from TEC schools and universities attended seminars and courses on professional development schools to increase their understanding of school-university collaboration. Furthermore, the TEC sponsored several events to foster school-university collaboration and to empower teachers as full participants in restructuring teacher preparation programs.
The TEC facilitated collaboration among school and university faculty and administrators through TEC staff meetings, challenge events, a planning retreat, school site council meetings, and curriculum planning groups at schools and universities. Collaborative meetings and events included the following:
Discussion included arrangements for compressed video setups at school sites, a technology sharing time for site coordinators, the need for site coordinators to visit other school sites, expectations for pre-service teachers in the TEC, development of a TEC newsletter, and the development of multimedia interdisciplinary units.
Several projects were funded with TEC funds to address the various goals in the state initiative. One project, the Alternative School Leadership Program, was designed to prepare leaders for the different leadership roles required in an emerging full-service professional development school. Project TIME was designed to prepare teachers who would serve as instructional leaders within their schools. It was also designed to assist colleagues in general education, and teachers who can collaborate with community leaders and health and human service agency personnel. A critical element of this program was early identification of at-risk and special needs students, which would result in referral to appropriate support services in the community.
Both the university faculty and the classroom teachers were provided a series of workshops on the operation of the new equipment, the use of the various software packages, and the application of the software to daily maintenance and instructional materials development. These workshops were conducted in both the university and school labs. Educational technology faculty and a technical staff of graduate students were made
available as needed to assist faculty with questions and problems as they developed to ensure smooth integration of these resources into their teaching.
During the second year, the TEC was expanded to include faculty from 12 schools, and plans were made to expand to 18 schools. Training workshops continued to be offered in the schools by both university and school personnel. Workshops and help sessions for university faculty were continued. Many training sessions were offered over the videoconferencing networks to help provide training without interfering with the teachers' daily routines. A number of formal workshops were offered at the university for teachers from participating schools and focused on applying software to their areas of teaching. Some teachers took existing university technology classes that were appropriate to their needs. The TEC sponsored attendance at a number of national technology and educational research conferences for teachers and university faculty.
Year Three (First Quarter)
There are two general changes regarding staff development activities. First, expertise and support have evolved at some of the sites to the extent that recently trained site specialists can now deliver staff development support. Second, there has been a move from general orientation and basic skills training to more advanced training and individualized instruction in specific topics and locations. However, there are several new evolving sites with faculty in need of general orientation. A staff of technologists has been available for trouble-shooting problems and training individuals who have questions or problems. During this quarter, there were 201 participants in group training sessions and 46 people scheduled in individual sessions. More individuals were introduced to video teleconferencing operation and capabilities by participating in sessions and through special training materials that were developed. These activities involved both university faculty and teachers. Also, topics were no longer focused only on the hardware and software needs of the participants. For example, a series of workshops initiated in the fall of 1994 covered the following topics:
There were several ancillary activities this quarter that highlighted the collaborative component of the TEC through functions extending its resources and influence to other groups and that brought benefits from these groups for TEC participants. A conference on education, inclusion, and diversity was conducted by the College of Education at Prairie View A&M with partial support from the TEC. Between 300 and 350 educators participated in activities related to cultural diversity in education. Another program was cosponsored by the TEC site school system and a city government to highlight the accomplishments of the schools with support from GTE and the TEC. Approximately 400 citizens and educators attended this activity.
A 2-day educational technology conference, cosponsored by the TAMU Educational Technology program, the TEC, and the Region VI Educational Service Center, was attended by more than 400 teachers, administrators, university faculty, and students. Some participating sites used TEC funds to send teachers as part of their staff development efforts. This conference provided an arena for presentation of projects and activities and an opportunity for teachers and university faculty from all curriculum areas to interact on topics relating to instructional technology.
Development of Teacher Preparation/Pre-service Courses
It is intended that all students involved in the TEC will be "prepared" for using technology in their student teaching experience. Since teachers tend to teach as they were taught, one of the first initiatives here was, as described above, aimed at changing the instructional processes and techniques used in methods classes to model the use of technologies. Faculty training and resource acquisition was a necessary prerequisite for this to happen. In addition, courses in educational technology for pre-service teachers were maintained and closely allied to the equipment and applications needs of the field-based activities. Thus, all of the various activities of the TEC are interlinked and dependent on one another. Regarding the actual restructuring of teacher education, program efforts during the first year were focused on establishing technological and social systems infrastructures for the TEC partner schools to facilitate restructuring of teacher education programs in a collaborative manner. Examples of these activities include the following:
A college-wide review team identified three program orientations that span the range of professional training for pre-service teachers: Young Learners, Middle School, and Secondary School. Because of the number of pre-service teachers (approximately 1,400) being served by current programs, a gradual transition was planned for the implementation of these programs.
These programs will provide distinct phases for the pre-service preparation of students. The first phase is entitled Children, Families, and Communities for the Young Learners and Middle School programs and Self-Directed Experiences for the Secondary School program. This phase occurs before actual admission to teacher education and includes experiences where potential candidates learn about children, communities, and families and explore education as a profession. This phase involves field work in the community. Future teachers must demonstrate that they can communicate with children and families who speak a language other than English and they must develop a portfolio that includes meaningful interactions and involvement with a child or children from backgrounds different from their own.
The second phase also occurs before admission to teacher education and is entitled Children, Schools, and Society for the Young Learners and Middle School programs and Teaching and Schools in Modern Society for the Secondary program. Prospective students study the impact of schooling on society and consider what it means to educate children for their roles in democracy. Both phases require potential teacher candidates to collect evidence of experiences that illustrate their awareness of linguistic, socioeconomic, and cultural diversity.
Students in the Secondary program also complete a third phase, Developing Skills to Meet the Needs of Society and Students, before they apply for admission.
Candidates in the Secondary program proceed to two semesters of practicums after being admitted to teacher education, while candidates in the Young Learners and Middle School programs are assigned to cohorts that are guided by teams consisting of a university faculty member, a school-based clinical faculty member, and a doctoral student specializing in teacher education. Candidates in the Young Learners and Middle School programs then proceed through the professional development phase, entitled Children, Teachers, and Classrooms.
A number of trial and experimental programs have been conducted at various TEC sites. Twelve university faculty and 24 school based-faculty have designed, implemented, and taught university courses to 65 future middle school teachers on one campus. A pilot program, called Writing Buddies, was implemented at a middle school site. Pre-service teachers who enrolled in an undergraduate reading methods course participated in this field experience, which provided a tutorial program for students. The program was supervised by practicing professional teachers. A university professor conducted the lecture on campus while selected teachers conducted seminars ''on site" with students enrolled in the course. A similar program was conducted in an elementary school in which undergraduates are paired with elementary students to work on writing skills. The future teachers meet with their "writing buddies" at least once a week. Another elementary school served as a site for bilingual programs in the district. Additional goals include the establishment of a block of field-based methods courses taught there. The first block of courses was offered during the spring semester, 1994, and taught on site by a team of university professors. A high school program involved approximately 80 students in the pilot of an interdisciplinary program where the traditional freshman English and U.S. history courses were integrated. Teachers and student teachers participating in 90-minute instructional blocks used instructional strategies on central themes that integrated topics across the traditional subject areas. Through these activities, pre-service students not only gain classroom experience but are also involved with the conceptualization and planning of the activities.
Year Three (First Quarter)
During the fall of 1994, 100 pre-service teachers registered for an undergraduate course that required them to spend 2 hours a week in lecture at the university for instruction in language arts methods. The students were assigned to 1-hour labs on an elementary school campus. Nine teachers served as lab instructors supporting this methods course. Twenty students were selected from the 100 participants in the reading methods course and Writing Buddies program to continue for two more semesters. This is one example of putting the goals of collaboration and field-based instruction into action and will serve as a model for other courses.
A Collaborative Model for Teacher Preparation
The "need" for establishing centers for professional development and technology was determined by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Once established, members of the collaborative focused on the educational goals of the state by specifically addressing educational concerns of the individual site members. It was agreed that they would address these concerns together, working on solutions that would benefit site needs and teacher preparation programs. They did this through a series of meetings that included the following:
Public school problems addressed by the collaborative included the following:
Teacher training program problems addressed by the collaborative included the following:
The following are examples of collaborative efforts:
Restructuring Teacher Preparation
The mission of the TEC is to develop and implement restructured teacher preparation programs that are technology enhanced and field based. The TEC is actively engaging faculty from schools, universities, and ESCs to work together as agents of change in creating new approaches for preparing teachers and administrators for all levels of public education. Restructuring was defined by Goodlad in 1990 as reexamining the purposes of education, and reworking the structures and practices of schools and university preparation programs in order to improve teaching and learning. As defined by TEA,
Teacher preparation programs must be developed which integrate field experiences in school and community human service. These programs should include advice and counsel from parents, care providers and governmental agencies. Teachers completing these programs shall be lifelong learners who continue to seek new levels of understanding content, pedagogy and culture.
Three New Teacher Preparation Programs
In addition to elementary and secondary teacher preparation programs, a third program has been added for specific training in middle school methodology. This was a result of efforts to restructure teacher training programs that followed the 1987 Texas standards for teacher training programs. These programs are currently considered pilots for those to be adopted in the fall of 1995. Final approval of the restructured programs will come about in April 1995 when the TEC conducts its program presentation to the Texas Commission on Standards for the Teaching Profession. The newly restructured programs are described as follows.
Young Learners Program. This program is designed for candidates in Texas A&M's teacher training program who seek certification in grades K through 4. The Young Learners Program has methods and field experiences designed to address the needs of educating the young child. There is a preprofessional sequence of course work that teacher training candidates must complete before being admitted to the professional sequence, which is designed to cover three semesters of professional development course work, including field experiences that give progressive teaching responsibility to the pre-service teacher.
Preprofessional Sequence of Courses IChildren, Families, and Communities. Methods courses focus on language and literacy, educational psychology, and human development. One course serves as a place holder with a field experience requirement. Students are required to work with families, agencies, and services in their field experience.
Preprofessional Sequence of Courses IIChildren, Schools, and Society. The second suggested sequence of courses before admission to teacher education focuses on the foundations of education in a multicultural society and understanding special populations.
Professional Semester IAdmission to Teacher Education: Focus on Young Learners, Teachers, and Schools. Upon admission to teacher education, pre-service teachers sign up for a 12-hour block of courses with a field experience requirement. Different TEC sites offer different beginning field experiences, but all require students to interact with children in a tutorial arrangement. These tutorial mentoring experiences have a variety of titles and themes. All reflect the needs of the individual campuses. Writing Buddies, Reading Buddies, Aggie Friends, Math Magicians, and HOST Volunteers are some of the programs that serve as vehicles for more than 125 pre-service teachers at a time on each campus. It is a win-win situation for the schools and for the teacher training program. Pre-service teachers are strongly encouraged to take a university course in microcomputer awareness during this semester.
Professional Semesters II and IIIFocus on Young Learners, Teachers, and Schools. Pre-service teachers enroll in a 12-hour block that includes a practicum experience focusing on working with and teaching small groups of children. Students are given increased experience in instruction that prepares them for the student teaching experience in the third semester.
Middle School Program. This program is designed for candidates in Texas A&M's teacher training program who seek certification in grades 4 through 8. The Middle School Program has methods and field experiences designed to address the needs of educating the young adolescent. There is a preprofessional sequence of course work that teacher training candidates must complete before being admitted to the professional sequence. The professional sequence is designed to cover three semesters of professional development course work that includes field experiences at the middle school, junior high, and high school levels. Teaching responsibilities are progressive and offer a variety of settings.
Preprofessional Sequence of Courses IChildren, Families, and Communities. The 6 hours of suggested courses focus on language and literacy, and adolescent development. One of the two courses serves as a place holder with a field experience requirement. Students are required to work with families, agencies, and services in a middle school setting. They become part of a School Families program, shadowing various school personnel during the semester. This could be working with the school nurse, secretary, counselor, truancy officer, principal, or special education teacher.
Preprofessional Sequence of Courses IIChildren, Schools, and Society. The second suggested sequence of courses before admission to teacher education focuses on the foundations of education in a multicultural society and understanding special populations. A course in microcomputer awareness is a requirement.
Professional Semester IAdmission to Teacher Education: Focus on Middle School Students, Teachers, and Schools. Upon admission to teacher education, pre-service teachers enroll in a block of course work that includes a field experience requiring assignments that integrate the curriculum. These courses are taught at a school site.
Professional Semesters II and IIIFocus on Middle School Students, Teachers, and Schools. Blocked courses are similar to the Young Learners program except that specific methods courses are designed to address the needs of the middle school student.
Secondary Program. This program is designed for candidates in Texas A&M's teacher training program who seek certification in grades 9 through 12. It consists of four phases and two practicums (the practicums occur in Phase IV of the program). The use of technology is stressed in Phases II through IV. In Phase II the pre-service teacher learns about technology and how to use it. In Phase III, pre-service teachers study how students can learn from technology, and in Phase IV of the training program, pre-service teachers study how their students can learn with technology as an integral part of their instruction.
Phase ISelf-Directed Experiences with Children. Students document their experiences in a variety of settings before admission to the teacher education program in Phase III.
Phase IIUnderstanding Teaching and Schools in Modern Society. The goal is for pre-service teachers to develop an understanding of responsibilities of the teaching profession. Pre-service teachers shadow professional teachers working with students in the middle school, junior high, and high school settings.
Phase IIIDeveloping Skills to Meet the Needs of Society and Students, Admission into Teacher Education. The goal is to develop teaching skills responsive to the cultural styles, values, and identity of children and adults from all racial, ethnic, linguistic, class, and religious backgrounds regardless of learning and/or behavioral characteristics.
Phase IVDeveloping and Demonstrating Skills to Organize Content and Technology for Use in Classrooms. The goal in the first practicum experience of Phase IV is for pre-service teachers to develop skills in organizing content and technology for use in classrooms. The goal of the second practicum experience is to demonstrate skills of organizing content and technology. Pre-service teachers demonstrate proficiency in instructional skill during this practicum (similar to the traditional student teaching experience).
Additional Staff and Role Changes
As stated above in the description of collaborative activities, current pilot teacher training programs are addressing Texas Education Agency's expectations in restructuring teacher education. The need for coordination
of collaborative efforts between TEC sites and university teacher training programs has required the addition of personnel to ensure progress toward meeting the goals of the TEC as well as the different expectations of cooperating teachers, university supervisors, and student teachers:
Following are examples of the number of pre-service teachers affected by new field-based programs at TEC sites:
Other TEC sites are participating in the collaborative in different ways. They either have student teachers and are actively involved in redesigning student teaching experiences, or they participate in compressed video lectures by doing projects with classes at different sites in the collaborative. The last 3 years have brought about many significant changes in the way we teach at the university and in the way students are taught in the schools.
Activities have included in-service training for university faculty, teachers, student teachers, and undergraduates in the use of Macintosh computers, and computer software such as HyperStudio, ClarisWorks, Inspiration, and FileMaker Pro. Staff development is also offered in e-mail, Internet, Telnet, compressed video, development of interdisciplinary instruction, understanding diverse cultures, and mentoring pre-service teachers. At one site, 5th-, 6th-, and 7th-grade students are trained to be a part of the school's "Tech Team." They help teachers and students with technology in their classrooms. They also learn how to use Telnet and how to access information via the Internet.
Compressed video units located at five TEC sites are currently used for instruction and conferences between Texas A&M University and the sites. They are also used for student projects collaboratively planned between classrooms at different sites.
Some examples of ongoing and future projects include the following:
Several Turkish schools will have connections to the Internet in early March with students in Texas. They will become "keypals."
Multimedia Projects for the Classroom
Undergraduates enrolled in a technology course on the Texas A&M campus meet via compressed video with practicing teachers at a TEC site to develop instructional materials that support interdisciplinary themes. Materials have been created to support such themes as "Africa" and "Westward Expansion."