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Recommendations for Teacher Training

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Develop a training sequence which recognizes a predetermined community characteristic (farming, resort area, heavy industry), a community resource (preponderance of "retired" workers), or a well-articulated community concern (unemployment, ecology, ethnic inequity). Relate acquisition of teaching methodology to curriculum reflecting any or all of these consumer realities.

Establish a continuing registration option for those students who plan for income-producing experiences which appear to conflict with initially expressed goals. Apply the dynamics of these experiences to the restructuring of the internship phase in such a way that alternate future school resource roles can be considered.

Accommodate faculty/student contracts for off-campus involvements which result directly or indirectly in school-community benefit. Assess increased or decreased willingness of student to eventually confront a classroom situation after a mutually established quota of peripheral experiences has been undertaken.

Develop a phase one exploratory experience which serves as reality-testing for men and women who declare elementary school teaching as majors. During the final semester of the freshman year, assign them to local agencies, hospitals, and private day care centers as volunteer aides for two afternoons a week. In the sophomore year, place students in schools, in school board offices, and in state education departments for a minimum of three 2-week internships.

Permit immediate access and apprenticeship to an experienced practitioner in either school/institution, or hospital to students declaring special education as their interest. Provide frequent opportunity for discussion with parents of exceptional children. Refrain from imposing disproportionate coursework and theory until the ambience of the specialization is demonstrably clear to the student.

Provide course options which can both prepare and expose students who wish to become school administrators through intensified undergraduate exposure to organizational psychology. Increasingly sophisticated skills could be acquired (or credited through past experience) through residency in industrial personnel departments, business and office firms, and summer camp or resort motel experiences.

Establish minimum requirements of community apprenticeship to the college or university town's local government. This could enable the future teacher to assess his tolerance of, and potential contribution to yet another establishment-based institution which is and will be directly related to his future teaching role.

A nationally eminent, state school officer has said that we "once looked to the colleges of education for leadership in innovation," adding that they are now "among the major obstacles to change." Though this may be an excessively harsh generalization, it is evident that the demands to which career education responds arise for government, employers, the community in general, and from public school educators, but rarely from the teacher training institutions. But the ultimate consumer of the product of teacher education is that broader community which can ultimately make its demands felt.

The Impact of Teacher Surplus

The cutback in elementary teacher preparation, responsive to declining overall demand after fifteen years of falling birth rates may suggest a diminution of input from new teachers and limitations to the reform of teaching practices through pre-service training. True in the aggregate, the situation is more promising in the specific.

There remain teacher shortages in certain geographic areas-inner cities and rural communities-and in certain fields-special education, bilingual education, industrial and home arts, and vocational education. Men are in high demand in the early as well as the intermediate elementary grades. Highly motivated and trained young people are being sought by communities of heavy minority populations. Women will find that school options are not limited to teaching and counseling alone; they include a range of careers, from the discretely trained paraprofessional to the resource specialist in career education who serves both school and community.

Less visible, but at the heart of this thesis, are the very real opportunities for elementary school teachers who come to the school experience equipped to plan as well as teach, to write curricula responsive to the world the child must enter, and to conduct or participate in staff development experiences which reflect their own first-hand knowledge of a variety of non-educational settings. Institutions preparing teachers can now choose from a number of viable alternatives which can reengage the interest and enthusiasm of their students while coming to terms with the not inconsistent "qualifiers" for federal largesse. With the knowledge that the U.S. Office of Education has a better-than-chance record for assessing and responding to public consensus, such institutions cannot afford to dismiss out of hand an opportunity to validate their existence. A slow-up in the persistent demand for new teachers should both allow and force teacher education institutions to reexamine their product and their practices. It is a buyer's market now, and the schools should refuse both to accept the ill-prepared and to "buy" from institutions not meeting the needs of the market. The following set of questions, which have been rephrased from the original, might be a useful assessment of the willingness of a college of education to meet those needs.

(1)    Does the teacher education program permit and produce dialogue with other disciplines and outside organizations?

(a)    Is there evidence of requests from these agencies to use materials, facilities, and academic talents of teaching personnel?

(b)    Is there evidence of planned teacher-educator exchange with inhabitants of other work settings which exceed traditional short-term consulting roles?

(c)    Is there evidence of cross-disciplinary unity in the establishment of institutional goals which respond to the consumer school systems' analysis of need and thereby to the reality of teacher placement?

(2)    Does the press describe the program as being useful to society in terms of its image to the taxpayer, to the legislator, and to the elected or appointed state board of education?

(a)    Is there evidence that the individual parent and businessman considers his investment in teacher education a sound one; e.g., the citizenry's reaction to bond issues, tuition increases, teacher unemployment, and conflicting public school-based issues?

(b)    Is there evidence of legislative involvement and support for programs requiring additional funds to prepare teachers in new ways; e.g., do memories of new obsolescent programs dilute enthusiasm?

(c)    Is there evidence of responsiveness between state boards and departments of education and the long-range plans of teacher training institutions?

(3)    Does the program use a maximum amount of human energy directed toward goal achievement and a minimum amount to maintenance functions and contesting behaviors?

(a)    Is there evidence of a wide use of community and industrial teaching and setting resource during the pre-service experience?

(b)    Is there evidence that the program equips teachers to accept and deal with differing cultures and values through direct contact with those espousing them?

(c)    Is there evidence that teacher training sequences study and employ the public school systems' in-service and staff development procedures as models for pre-service variation?

(4)    Does the program have the ability to attract and hold the loyalty of young and competent applicants?

(a)    Is there evidence of consistency between the presentation of a number of learning theories and the flexibility of faculty in accommodating differing learning styles and motivations of future teachers?

(b)    Is there evidence of accommodation of varying goals, declared uncertainties, mistrials, and radical theory in the exploratory stage engaged by all students?

(c)    Is there evidence of curricular reflection of faculty growth and faculty commitment to the social/educational milieu reported by his reality-oriented student?

And the final, more verifiable question: How many students who are declared qualified to teach actually enter and stay in the teaching profession? This and the preceding questions could serve as genesis for the positive confrontation between those who educate the school practitioner and the child and society they are expected to serve.
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