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In-Service Training for Elementary School Teachers

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No matter what is done to improve the quality and the career education orientation of new entrants to the profession, educational reforms for a long time to come will depend upon refurbishing those already committed to educational careers. More has been accomplished and less has been written in the area of staff development than any other single educational dimension. Here, as in every trade or profession, internal efforts to upgrade the practitioner's skills receive little publicity and only faint praise from the paternal colleges of education... while a mystified public wonders what all those teachers could be doing during childless school days and long summers.

With the advent of career education, in-service summer work sessions are beginning to assume a corporate status equal to, if not surpassing the tri-annual pilgrimage to the nearest accrediting institution. Moreover, in a few progressive locations, the private citizen is not only becoming aware of what is going on, but is often involved in ways which influence the educational "establishment."

In-service has become career education's most articulate spokesman, from state education departments to individual school districts. The ambiguity once associated with the educator's periodic self-examination has been transformed into a purposeful investigation of an institutional and personal capacity for change. Much of the enthusiasm can be attributed to career education's high visibility, but even more credit must be given to a dynamic which permits the educator to save face by losing it. Through his embrace of new human expertise, he is able to maintain his orientation role while relinquishing his exclusive claim to educative superiority. Since there is no imposition of a "third party" edict, but rather a task that each has similarly defined as having to be done, the teacher and the community representative are eyeball to eyeball in a learning situation which places them both, with equal "handicaps," on the starting line.

Staff development procedures vary from state to state and from school to school, but common elements can be extracted from these approaches which have achieved effective implementation of career awareness programs in the elementary school. While some of these practices are and were attendant upon proposals submitted for funding (and thereby more subject to attrition), the majority of exemplary in-service models have been developmentally generated by state education departments and school districts which predicted career education's currency long before its arrival as a national priority. Another distinguishing feature of these more enduring models is the continuing support they receive from their state boards, and often their state governments. While this support is not always geared to the provision of unlimited funds, it is marked by the extremely good press associated with public commitments by individuals or institutions, which can either influence or establish long-range educational policy.

Career education in-service patterns can be said to fall into eight categories. A brief description of each might serve to illustrate certain options which have attained staff objectives for those who chose to implement them.

Each of the approaches and the specific elements described are realities in many states and local subdivisions. A combination of any or all of these in-service practices could become a continuing orchestration of staff development procedures for school systems implementing effective and enduring career education programs. While there has been no attempt to arrange the sample approaches in order of initiation-for many can and do occur simultaneously with good effect-the reality of human and material investment and maintenance demands attention to an orderly sequence of planning which continually rewards the practitioner in other than extrinsic ways. This encouragement is the good "press," both internal to the profession and external to the public, which serves to reinforce a growing cadre of career education experts while it ensures increasing excellence in programs for their children.

The Working Sabbatical Approach

A given school system elects to release x number of school personnel from all disciplines, kindergarten through twelfth grade (K-12), for y number of school terms. Financial outlay is required to re-staff vacancies, to maintain full pay for researching teachers, and to provide the minimum clerical and "materials" assistance needed. The charge: to survey both the literature on, and the live example of career education in practice-thus to create curricula linking each subject matter area to an operational definition of its application to a worker's life-style. The test: to concurrently select a pilot system, K-12, in which to test developed curriculum, and another, closely matched system which could serve as a control. The implementation: to move certain members of the researching team into the pilot setting to serve as resource to staff while training them in the use of the new materials and approaches.

The Planned Summer Work Experience Approach

A pilot school continuum, K-12, contracts with a number of local businesses representing nine broad career areas (environmental, agribusiness, health, real estate/banking/finance, personal services, public services, communications, manufacturing, construction, and transportation) to provide up to eight weeks of full-time employment for two teachers from each grade level (total, 26) during the summer months. Employers assign one worker to each teacher as an "advocate." The school district bears all costs in year 1 by extending ten-month salaries into a twelve-month category. The state education departments arrange with a local college or university to bear the cost of tuition "credit" for worker advocates, while working teachers pay the usual tuition fees to obtain graduate credit for their paid summer experience.

In each succeeding year, increasing numbers of teachers have this exposure with a proportionate increase in the employer's financial contribution (and a proportionate decrease in the school district's subsidy) issuing from the employer's perception of the program's value and the teachers' work performance. The college or university continues to award credit, or to provide "rain checks" for course work in guidance to those advocates assigned to teachers.

The Intensive Summer Workshop Approach

State education department personnel conduct consecutive workshops for teachers, counselors, administrators, content area supervisors, and directors of curriculum, guidance, and vocational education. These are held at local area colleges for graduate credit or at "neutral" sites for state education department professional credit. As part of the state's plan for orientation to and implementation of career education practices, K-adult, consultant and resource material costs are minimized by wide use of local citizenry from the "workshop" community.

Housing fees and graduate tuition are borne by state education department funds allocated for staff and program standards development (two categories combined) under the state's plan for career education. Workshop products are twofold: a cadre of professionals is trained to conduct in-service and beginning outlines of local curriculum guides with accompanying implementation time tables are constructed.

The Assured Released Time for Planning Approach

School systems initiate flexible scheduling; permitting two hours weekly in which school "teams" (department heads, counselors, administrators, etc.) can meet with rotating faculty groups. These sessions are used to plan for the most effective implementation of those curriculum activities generated through prior workshop experiences. Faculty not involved in particular planning sessions contribute to the regularity of this released time by taking part in those field trips, outdoor projects, or large assemblies which are components of the school's career awareness program. In addition, the administrative policy for substitutes is adjusted to recognize and use the experts in the community as spokesmen and demonstrators of a wide variety of careers during those times when planning sessions are taking place.
The Year-Long Industry-Visitation Approach

A state education department contracts with local colleges or universities to award credits on a graduating scale to teachers and counselors who attend some or all industry visitations scheduled monthly during the school year. These visits are arranged by large businesses, industries, or agencies in a centrally located metropolitan area in the state, at no cost to the participants except their own travel to that area. The investment made by industry is considered well spent when teachers and counselors return to their schools with new information and understanding about the continuing human needs required to maintain and improve products and services. Each visit is either concluded or introduced by a seminar in which participants have the opportunity to question the man on the line, as well as his personnel management representative.

The Addition of Resource Staff Approach

School districts which have allocated funds for staff increase consider the option of training and employing paraprofessionals to assist with the implementation of career education programs. Alternatively, they might elect to submit proposals to their state funding agencies for these personnel. In both cases, such assistance is directed toward a valid career education resource function in the school system. Some examples of these are:
  1. Additional pay for teachers with industrial experience who serve in pre-and post-school hour capacity as school-business community liaison; or salary for a retired member of the working community who holds a similar position during school hours.

  2. Employment of interested high school-aged youth as instructional aides, tutors, remedial specialists, and media specialists. These young people could be enrollees in a cooperative work experience program, unemployed school dropouts, or between decisions to seek further education, training, or work. As "living witnesses" to brief work or non-work experiences (in terms of their current perceptions of the basic skills they did or did not acquire during the elementary school years), they share with young students a glimpse of the future in store for them.

  3. Employment of instruction aides for teachers at each grade level. These individuals are drawn from the parent, retired, and unemployed communities around the school and are involved in the in-service and planning process with the teachers.
The Serial, or State Board to State Education Department to Regional Approach

For some states, the most effective approach has been for educators to secure the leadership of the governor-in appointing experts to conduct a one-day "lay" conference introducing the rationale and concept of career education to representatives of the business-labor-industry community. Immediately following this event, the state department of education conducts a professional conference for its line staff in all subdivisions. On this occasion, exemplary practices already in existence are displayed in one setting. This achieves recognition for the practitioners and prototype and consolidation for those at district level. Both of these activities are dependent upon the state board of education's support of career education as a statewide educational priority, and its commitment, often by resolution, to the implementation of that priority in its school systems.

After receiving evaluation and recommendation from both groups of participants, the state education department and its colleague state citizens advisory committee assist with the state's regional in-service meetings which follow. These serve to develop regional strength for future local leadership with in-service functions. Ultimately the local school, having been given the assurance of known educational policy and human (if not financial) support, is able to bring its own talents to bear on a customized school-wide plan which is also consonant with the goals of its own subdivision and its state plan for career education.

The Project or Interdisciplinary Approach

Subsequent to the investigation and groundwork by district level content area supervisors (in forms of curriculum outlines, position papers, etc.), local schools initiate an interdisciplinary team on their premises. Using the released time for planning they are assured, they commit themselves to the use of a "project," "interest," or "task" approach to curriculum design. The sequence of activities planned for each school year evolves from the team's considered assessment of the readiness and interest levels of their students and are designed to involve youngsters from all grade levels in varying and appropriate ways.

In each of these long-term ventures, the necessity of competency in each subject area would be emphasized as key to the successful completion of that work simulation activity. Some examples from actual practices are:
  1. Environmental "engineering" around the school

  2. Boutiques, garden-markets, four-season products|

  3. Bakery adjuncts to the school's cafeteria

  4. School "employment" service

  5. Public address system, film, slide, and video tape-recorder productions

  6. Peer tutoring and "brother/sister" counseling

  7. Newspapers, student-built illustrated story and textbooks for younger schoolmates

  8. Drama, dance, and music productions

  9. Human ecology: diet, hygiene, social studies, junior Olympics

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