Education schools determine whether teachers walk into their classrooms prepared or are likely to drop out from the profession in the first few years because they feel overwhelmed. Here are some steps education deans and faculty can take to ensure a high-quality teacher preparation program:
Put teacher candidates in classrooms
Make sure teacher candidates get plenty of opportunities to observe, tutor, and teach in real K-12 classrooms. One way to provide hands-on experience is to establish professional development schools in partnership with local school districts. Teacher candidates learn and practice-teach at the classroom site, receiving instruction and feedback both from classroom teachers and university instructors.
Send education professors out to the K-12 schools
Their presence enables them to provide better feedback to teacher candidates at their universities and to make sure theory and content taught at the school of education relate to what is happening in real classrooms. They also have an opportunity to work with veteran classroom teachers in determining school of education curriculum and the most effective teacher education programs.
Prepare future educators for the challenge of teaching diverse populations. Schools of education located in areas without diverse populations, such as the one at the University of Northern Iowa, offer teacher candidates the opportunity to student-teach in cities in other states. But video case studies like CaseNEX can prepare students for teaching in large cities and areas with heterogeneous populations without physically going there.
Establish professional development schools
Develop extended, graduate-level teacher preparation programs that provide a yearlong internship in a professional development school. The book, Studies of Excellence in Teacher Education: Preparation at the Graduate Level, edited by Stanford Professor Linda Darling-Hammond, profiles exemplary graduate education programs.
Consider dual-degree programs
As a way to ensure that teachers have both subject matter knowledge and teaching strategy know-how, a number of education schools have adopted five-year programs in which a bachelor's degree in an academic discipline is earned in the senior year and a bachelor's degree in education is earned the following year. The "Teacher Preparation: A Sampler" includes examples of such programs.
Recruit potential teachers from diverse backgrounds
"Promising Practices," a 1998 U.S. Department of Education report on teacher quality, showcases some teacher education programs that have been successful in recruiting minority students.
Train future teachers in technology
In the report, "Log On or Lose Out: Technology in 21st Century Teacher Education," the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education calls on education schools to invest in technology resources and collect data to show the value of the investment, and to monitor the effect of technology integration on student learning. The report also calls for collaboration between local schools and teacher training.
Keep tabs on the federal "Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to Use Technology" grants
Congress approved grants starting in 1999 that allocate $75 million for schools of education to integrate technology instruction into their curricula. The grants, known as PT3, have helped schools of education train teachers to put the latest technology to best use in the classroom.
Educational Resources Information Center Clearinghouse on Teaching and Teacher Education. The center offers an extensive Web library of information about teacher preparation and the status of the teaching profession.
International Society for Technology in Education. ISTE has written technology standards for teachers that fall into three categories: basic computer/technology operations and concepts; personal and professional use of technology; and application of technology in instruction.
National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Besides being the major accrediting board for schools of education, NCATE offers articles on its Web site on teacher quality and other issues of interest to teacher-educators.
Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to Use Technology. Congress approved grants starting in 1999 that allocate $75 million for schools of education to integrate technology instruction into their curricula. The grants, known as PT3 grants, have helped schools of education train teachers to put the latest technology to best use in the classroom.