there was a good flow of pedagogical, content, student exercise and activity information, and materials among the Fellows themselves.
As indicated in Table 1, seven Fellows are currently teaching full time in Los Angeles or Orange County public schools. Two Fellows are teaching part-time in LAUSD adult schools, the clientele of which are predominately young adults who previously dropped out of high school. Two of the Fellows who are not currently teaching have expressed a desire to re-enter the teaching profession when personal situations allow them to do so. The loss of three Fellows during the CSULB credential program is not unexpected nor unusual. In any classroom situation, there will be those who will not complete for a variety of reasons. When comparing the attrition rate of the remaining 12 Fellows who actually entered teaching, the rate is lower than that reported in national studies.15 The external evaluator attributes these results to several parts of the program (Appendix D):
Early classroom observation
Two year follow up
Active participation by the DRI Program Office
The accomplishments that the Fellows are experiencing is worth noting. Both the external evaluator and the DRI staff report that administration and teachers at the schools where the Fellows are teaching speak well of their teaching skills, content knowledge, and leadership capabilities. According to the external evaluator, the Fellows have gained seniority and are exerting more influence within their departments. One is developing his schools’s first honor’s science course. Two Fellows are chairing school-wide committees.
An Assistant Principal at Bell High School in South Central Los Angeles recently said, “We were so honored and pleased to have been one of the DRI training sites, because this is one of the few programs that have addressed the needs of urban schools. We immediately hired DRI Fellow Mr. E. G. when he completed his credential, and we have not regretted it. He is one of our top mathematics teachers. I wish we could have worked with another cohort of DRI Fellows.”
THE CSULB CREDENTIAL PROGRAM
On July 10, 1995, 15 Fellows began the program at CSULB. The course of study was planned through the formation of a Campus Advisory Group made up of faculty from the Mathematics Department, including mathematics educators, the Science Education Department, and the School of Education. According to Dr. William Ritz, director of the program at CSULB, this marks the first time these faculty members have taken the opportunity to meet together and plan a coordinated program. The Campus Advisory Group continued to meet throughout the year to design and implement coursework specifically for the DRI Fellows. Although the curriculum contained all of the elements of the traditional credential program at CSULB, the courses were divided into modules so that the Fellows could spend more time at the school sites than is usually possible in traditional credential
programs. Throughout the program, from the first week in the summer introductory course through student teaching, the Fellows spent a minimum of two full days in the schools. Some coursework was provided that satisfied the Cross-cultural, Language and Academic Development (CLAD) credential.
The Fellows were placed in cooperating schools within the first week of the program. A flow chart of their in-school responsibilities is shown in Figure 1. They began by observing teachers of mathematics and science at the middle school and high school levels. It was mandatory that they visit at least one middle school and one high school during the course of the introductory summer class. The classroom observations were directed in that there were particular assignments to be completed at the school sites that corresponded to the CSULB coursework.
“I expected the school to be depressing, with unruly, unmotivated kids,” said DRI Fellow K.H.K., who spent his first day at Berendo Middle School near downtown Los Angeles. “The school is like an oasis in the middle of some of the worst Los Angeles gang territory. It is obvious that discipline is stressed and the kids regard the school as a safe haven, where they can engage in the fun of learning. I loved every minute of it – the kids and the teachers were great!”
The next stage of their fieldwork in schools included working with individual students and small groups of students so that they could begin to understand how students learn. Under the supervision of a Cooperating Teacher, Fellows were given assignments for interviewing students on specific topics, tutoring individual students, and observing and facilitating groups of students. These experiences were then reported on and discussed during university class time.
A third stage was cooperative teaching with an experienced teacher. In an effort to make a smooth transition from the observation phase to eventual student teaching, Fellows were paired with one or two Cooperating Teachers at one of the school sites. The concept of cooperative teaching was that the Cooperating Teacher and the DRI Fellow would work together on certain lessons so that the Fellow could gain confidence in lesson preparation, delivery, and assessment. The Fellow and the Cooperating Teacher were encouraged to jointly prepare lesson plans, team teach, and develop strategies where one could support the presentation of a lesson by the other through leading discussions, answering questions, or setting up demonstrations. Since this was a unique concept, Cooperating Teachers were asked to be innovative in conducting this part of the program. Participation by the Fellow in classroom management, such as seating and roll taking, was also encouraged. A workshop for the potential Cooperating Teachers was held in order to inform them of the intent of this phase of the program – innovative in that it is less structured than most student teaching experiences and allows for a gradual introduction to conducting a lesson. At the workshop, CSULB faculty explained their expectations for cooperative teaching and the group played out several scenarios. These scenarios were intended to dramatize potential problems or favorable outcomes that might occur during cooperative teaching.
Finally, the Fellows completed traditional student teaching, during which they took complete responsibility for three class periods every day for a period of two months while being supervised by an experienced classroom teacher. The time-period of student teaching was somewhat shorter than normal because of the cooperative teaching experience undertaken by the Fellows.