Unit Partnership Plan 2012
The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University Education Department Unit Partnership Plan 2012
Goals, Objectives, and Rationale
Prepared by Jeanne Cofell
"[Collaboration] represents primarily a means by which interested parties can better serve the needs of educating our youth." (S. Trubowitz & P. Longo, 1997)
I. Introduction and Rationale
The College of St. Benedict (CSB) and St. John's University (SJU) have a coordinate mission dedicated to a liberal arts education that "fosters integrated learning, exceptional leadership for change and wisdom for a lifetime" (CSB/SJU, 2011, "Mission," para. 2). As Benedictine institutions, our colleges strive to prepare students for life-long ethical leadership and service and, as such, are connected to off-campus communities and programs that work to promote peace, justice, and the common good. Developing and maintaining vital partnerships with learning-focused organizations, especially schools, is an essential facet of our connection to a larger educational community.
It is an important aspect of our institutional mission that these colleges are involved in partnerships that endeavor to support K-12, pre-college education. Clearly, colleges are indebted to elementary and secondary schools for the quality of the prior education of their matriculating students. As our schools and our world face increasingly complex challenges and declining resources, it is imperative that institutions of higher education intentionally collaborate with community schools to prepare students for advanced academic work. Furthermore, collaboration among schools and colleges promotes the values of ethical and wise leadership, service, and education that work together to improve our lives and our world.
Education Department Mission
The Education Department's conceptual model describes "a vision of human educational decision-making based on appropriate professional knowledge, grounded in Benedictine values, and focused on the essential goals of meeting the needs and enhancing the lives of all students." We believe that as teacher educators we are fundamentally committed to all students. The partnership description and plan that follows is an attempt to clarify and aim the mission of this philosophy and to realize it through the guidance of our students and through collaborative efforts with our K-12 school partners. In fact, we deem it essential that exceptional teacher education programs must function in relationship with the real world of the classroom/school. To do otherwise would be to deprive prospective teachers of essential experiential grounding at the heart of effective teacher preparation.
Furthermore, because teacher education programs are a vital first stepping stone in the teachers' lifelong professional development, partnerships with schools provide the necessary opportunities for "ongoing efforts of both college faculty and public school staff to provide nurturance, knowledge, and security to ensure continued professional growth" (S. Trubowitz & P. Longo, 1997, p.34). Continued teacher support through various efforts within partnerships is another way of honoring our commitment to the development of all students.
Clinical practice in the real world of classrooms ought to be at the center of teacher preparation for a number of reasons, not the least of which is helping close the "achievement gap." There is a troubling disparity in student achievement in Minnesota. Although a national problem, the gap in Minnesota appears to be widening (Committee on the Achievement Gap, 2010). Schools, districts, community agencies and teacher education programs, together with our state and national government, share responsibility to deeply engage research and practices that can reduce if not eliminate the disparities to help all students flourish. A critical aspect for teacher education programs preparing teachers to effectively advance students' learning in all communities, is to "place practice at the center of teaching" (NCATE, 2010, p.2). Classroom-based experience embeds content with pedagogical learning in the reality and possibility of real world schools.
It is the aim of the Education Department to work with partner schools having a shared vision of quality education for all students so as to develop mutually beneficial programs in which the enterprise of each institution is "informed by the needs and practices of the other" (Levin, 1997, p. 64). We work to build meaningful partnerships that will ensure that our candidates have exposure to diverse student populations and the valuable opportunities that quality field experience programs can provide. Teacher candidates must immediately and effectively prepare to provide meaningful student learning that successfully closes the achievement gap. Teacher candidates must participate in meaningful roles in school settings if they are to respond to the demands that rapid change in our world places on curricular design, pedagogical practices, assessment strategies, and flourishing classroom communities.
The National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) advances ten design principles for clinical-based preparation (2010). These include, but are not limited to, focusing on student learning, integrating clinical preparation throughout all facets of teacher preparation, providing teacher candidates with opportunities to practice and be critiqued in an interactive professional community, identifying effective and skilled practitioners to serve as novice teachers' mentors, and sustaining mutually beneficial school, community and college partnerships that prioritize and advance P-12 student learning. We have used variations on these general principles over the past 12 years as the foundation for forming and sustaining our varied K-12 partnerships. Guided by our mission and learning from our experiences, our partnership development continues to evolve in ways that reflect our unique opportunities as liberal arts colleges that prepare teachers who can respond to the complex reality of schools serving their communities and world.
Fundamental to the goal of serving the needs of all students is effective decision-making on the part of those who guide and work with students. It is imperative that "teachers should actively participate in the decision-making process" (Education Department Conceptual Model). Effective teaching happens in the reality of relationships with real students, where instructors' decisions affect individual lives. Providing meaningful, active participation for teacher-candidates demands structured opportunities for those candidates to practice the process of decision making and to experience the results of their decisions in the "real world" of the classroom. To meet this demand requires collaborative efforts of the Education Department working together with academic departments that help us prepare our candidates for licensure and the mentor teachers, school administrators, P-12 students, and community agencies who share that task with us.
Field and Clinical Experience
We believe that by developing intentional, purposeful partnership programs we address the many criteria defining high quality field experience programs. For example, McIntyre, Byrd, & Foxx (1996) note that candidates' "familiarity with the context masks their potential vision of alternative" (p. 173), and that student teachers must participate with the many communities that exist within a school if they are to develop into reflective practitioners. Thus for candidates to overcome the limitations of their own familiarity with the schooling they experienced as students requires providing them with divergent experiences that stimulate reflection and change. It is our intent to examine these and other considerations in order to fully integrate best practice into the field experience programs.
The Education Department recognizes that building and maintaining partnerships is a continual process that demands cooperation, commitment, time, resources and assessment. Building and maintaining viable partnerships in our region is tempered by two important considerations. First, our colleges are located in a rural area which is home to a predominately Caucasian population, albeit one in which the largest city is becoming more diverse, we must continually and creatively search out meaningful multicultural opportunities for our candidates. Second, the presence of other teacher education programs places significant demands on the same community schools for field experience opportunities. We must simultaneously deal with both of these considerations to focus our programs on issues of diversity. To do so we regularly and programmatically seek the input of our partner and cooperating schools, responding to their unique knowledge of the constantly changing world of the elementary, middle, and secondary classroom.
As the Education Department moves forward with partnership development, we recognize our responsibility to strive for excellence in regard to planning for collaborative ventures. Over ten years ago Boyce Williams (1997) wrote about proactive foundational framework considerations. Undergirding the proactive stance advocated by Williams are the beliefs that:
- Collaboration must be planned.
- Collaborative activities must have a shared vision.
- Collaborative activities must have a shared language.
- Collaboration is built on trust and understanding (P.91).
We also recognize that a proactive stance must consider that "reciprocity is key and it must be addressed early and reviewed regularly" (Trubowitz & Longo, 1997, p. 45). Further, collaborative ventures must mutually hold P-12 student learning as the focal point of partnership design (NCATE, 2010). Collaboration at its best can support various avenues of leadership that embrace responsibility for student learning, teachers, principals, professors and the leaders in training (Miller, Devin & Shoop, 2007). These principles are our guide to ensure success in initiating and sustaining meaningful collaboration that will help prepare students for academic success, wise decision making, leadership and service in a complex and ever-changing world.
College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University (CSB/SJU). Academic catalog: 2011-2012. http://www.csbsju.edu/Academics/Academic-Catalogs/2011-2012-Catalog/Mission.htm
Committee on the Achievement Gap. (2010). Achievement gap trends in Minnesota and Minneapolis public schools. http://www.dfleducationfoundation.org/achievementgap/2010/05/achievement-gap-trends-in-minnesota-and-minneapolis-public-schools.html
Levine, M. (1997, Summer). "Can Professional Development Schools help us achieve what matters most?" Action in Teacher Education, 63-73.
McIntyre, D.J., Byrd, D. M., & Foxx, S.M. (1996). "Field and laboratory experiences." In J. Sikula, T.J. Buttery, & E. Guyton (Eds.), Handbook of research on teacher education (2nd ed.), pp. 171-193. New York: Macmillan.
Miller, T. N., Dvein, M., & Shoop, R. J. (2007). Closing the leadership gap: How district and university partnerships shape effective school leaders. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press.
National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. (2010). Transforming teacher education through clinical practice: A national strategy to prepare effective teachers.: Report of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Clinical Preparation and Partnerships for Improved Student Learning. http://ncate.org
Trubowitz, S. & Longo, P. (1997). How it works: Inside a school-college collaboration. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Williams, B. (1997, Summer). "Challenges and opportunities for collaboration in teacher education programs." Action in Teacher Education, 89-96.
A mutually beneficial partnership provides a meaningful field experience enabling teacher candidates to observe the work of teachers, to lay the foundation for their own professional practice by making decisions in the classroom, and to reflect on the effects of their decisions on the learning and behavior of their students. At the same time viable partnerships must simultaneously serve a purposeful need in the host school. Achieving these two outcomes requires examination and consideration of several factors that shape the design and success of collaborations that draw schools, candidates, and colleges into partnerships.
Trubowitz & Long (1997) outline several key indicators that they believe are crucial for success in school-college collaboration. Partnerships might best operate, for example, "on the basis of enlightened self-interest" (p. 6) and thus need to be grounded in a shared vision that each partner flexibly pursues. Working from shared values that facilitate learning for our teacher candidates and schools' students is an essential first step. Furthermore, neither college nor school can unilaterally mandate the dimensions of their partnership. Rather, as partners, the college should recognize the demands placed on school principals and teachers as it contributes to helping meet the school's needs. In return, the school should encourage teachers to share their wisdom and expertise with the college to help guide the development of candidates' instructional programs. Both partners should share, as they are able, in the placement and formation of candidates as emerging practitioners in the school setting. Colleges should support the school as it accepts this role, for example, by focusing its resources on the professional development of school and college faculty.
Recalling the unique challenges of a rural location that supports a predominately white, middle class population in a region where access to schools is sought by other teacher preparation programs, the unit initiates and sustains partnerships that can ameliorate these challenges within the limits set by our shared resources. We realize that teacher candidates need to experience multiple opportunities to practice ethical decision-making in the real world classroom (Miller, Devin, & Shoop, 2007) and to learn to be attentively reflective in diverse setting with diverse student populations. Furthermore, training in multiculturalism needs to be connected to the real-life setting of the classroom, responding to ongoing demographic changes that reflect increasing classroom diversity (Lopez, 2006; Wallman, 2011).
Our experience confirms that "cooperating teachers greatly inform the student teaching context and also the behavior and beliefs of novice teachers" (McIntyre, Byrd, & Foxx, 1996, p. 173). If clinical practice is to be the centerpiece of teacher preparation (NCATE News, 2010), we must ensure that all participants in these collaborative efforts are willing and able to collaborate and to serve novice teachers as their mentors (Williams, 1997). Furthermore, given the changing demands of K-12 education and teacher preparation, we must continually examine candidates' field experiences to align them with our evolving course expectations, the needs of partner schools, the talents of practicing teachers and the performance of P-12 students.
Field experiences should provide a "laboratory" for teachers and candidates alike to discover, use, and refine a range of optimal teaching practices. As they evolve, partnerships must continue to draw guidance from our conceptual model and the expectations of state and national accreditors.
Reflecting our commitment to immerse teacher candidates in regular and meaningful field experiences, we must attend to the immediate need to provide over 830 field placements each year. With this complexity of considerations it is evident that comprehensive partnership efforts are ongoing and thus must be maintained with diligent effort informed by meaningful research, collegial collaboration, institutional support, and time.
The partnership description and plan that follows is an ongoing continuation of our initial plan implemented in 2000 and significantly revised in 2005. During the past 12 years, the CSB/SJU Education Department has invested significant time and resources to create licensure programs that place practice at the heart of teaching and which reflect evolving needs of candidates as they progress through our curricular "tiers" of clinical experience, from first year students exploring teaching as a possible career, through second year candidates moving forward on the path to licensure, to graduating fourth year student teachers called to serve as novices in their first positions. Ongoing dialogues and assessment from schools, faculty and students helps shape each partnership in unique ways to meet each partner's needs and expectations. As with any dynamic and responsive plan, some components of our partnership plan have been implemented, others are in process, some are new initiatives yet to be fully tested, and others have been set aside.
Goal 1: Establish Levels of College-School Partnerships (Implemented and Ongoing). The colleges' Education Department follows flexible guidelines for defining, developing and sustaining a range of school-college partnerships. Partnerships occur in each of our three curricular "tiers" or levels. Tier One includes educational "foundations" courses integrated with early and continuing field experiences shared by all prospective teachers prior to their acceptance by the unit as candidates in preparation for licensure. Tier Two is formed by pedagogy or "methods" courses with integrated clinical practica unique to each licensure program. Tier Candidates' preparation for licensure concludes with completion of Tier Three's "capstone" experiences in human relations and the semester-long student teaching experience (see Attachment A).
There are three areas of partnership: formal, cooperative, and networking. A school-college collaborative effort may change from one level to another in response to the respective institutions' needs. The formal partnership level describes intentional and mutually beneficial collaborative efforts designed to further the mission of participating institutions. The cooperative level describes more informal, less intensive relationships with schools that pursue early collaboration with the unit. The networking level establishes the unit's connections within our two colleges to capitalize on existing resources (Williams, 1997). We "network" with academic departments (i.e. English) or programs (Service Learning) to provide opportunities for our candidates.
Goal 2: Strengthen and build mutually beneficial relationships with schools that will ensure early, continuous, and increasingly complex and reflective school experiences by providing candidates with multiple opportunities to teach and observe young people in real world settings (Implemented and Ongoing). Such relationships will provide experiences ranging from observation of a teacher at work, serving as a classroom aide, tutoring a child, leading a small group discussion, co-teaching, to planning, teaching, assessing, and reflecting on lessons and units of instruction. Each such experience, suited to the needs and talents of prospective teachers, classroom teachers, and their students, encourages critical thinking and reflective decision-making.
We continue to build on already existing relationships as we develop new programs that will meet our candidates' immediate needs for field or clinical experiences while attending to long-term considerations for building and maintaining quality field experience programs. In the experience of Trubowitz and Longo (1997), partnership efforts that pursue "mutually beneficial self-interest form the most enduring basis for a collaborative venture." In this ongoing effort, the Education Department seeks feedback individually from partnership and cooperative schools to ensure that schools experience benefits of the college/school partnership.
Goal 3: Ensure field experience opportunities in classrooms with diverse populations (Implemented and Ongoing). Meaningful multicultural training for pre-teachers must be connected to the real world of teaching and learning in classroom settings and must encourage prospective teachers' focused, intentional reflection on what they have seen and done (Powell, Zehm, Garcia, 1996; Marx, 2006). During the past 11 years the Education Department focused on developing and implementing detailed Diversity Plans (2001, 2005, 2011) to systematically ensure that all candidates in all licensure programs work with diverse student populations and complete required tasks related to their work that provoke reflective analysis.
Goal 4: Develop a unified field experience program by examining the efficiency and effectiveness of the unit's approach to foundation course fieldwork, pedagogy course practica and student teaching clinical placements that better integrates selected courses with potential sites (Ongoing). While we acknowledge that meaningful experiences in field settings have the power to promote critical analysis and reflection on teaching practice (Howey, 1996), that experience must be coherently connected to relevant content and pedagogical knowledge taught in the college classroom. The Education Department has worked with formal school partners to integrate and connect courses to field sites in a more focused manner. The unit is examining new ways to improve efficiency of securing placements and the effectiveness their role in developing candidates' emerging practice in light of the costs to students, the risk of redundancy in placements, the structure of placements, the depth of skills and knowledge required, and the timing of clinical placements for student teaching.
Goal 5. Establish clearer links between pedagogy course practica, state and national standards and assessment strategies to support the Teacher Performance Assessment (Initiated and Ongoing). In the past two years the unit has integrated the Board of Teaching's required Stanford/Pearson Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA) for all candidates pursuing all licensures. Among the first group of Minnesota's 32 teacher-approved teacher preparation institutions to begin two years of pilot testing for this approach to assessing student teachers' self-reports of their performance, the unit's directors of elementary and secondary student teaching integrated TPA requirements with the unit's teacher work sample. During the 2012-2013 academic year further field testing will provide opportunities to forge a stronger coordination between preparatory experiences in pedagogy courses that can ease the completion of TPA during student teaching.
College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University Education Department. (2001) Accreditation 2001. http://www.csbsju.edu/Education/Accreditation/NCATE-2001.htm
College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University Education Department. (2005) Accreditation 2005. http://www.csbsju.edu/Education/Accreditation/NCATE-2005.htm
Howey, K. (1996). "Designing coherent and effective teacher education programs." In J. Sikula, T.J. Buttery, & E. Guyton (Eds.), Handbook of research on teacher education (2nd ed.), (pp. 143-170). New York: Macmillan.
Lopez, J. (2006). The impact of demographic changes on United States higher education 2000-2050. State Higher Education Executive Offices, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. PDF located at: http://www.google.com/search?q=The+impact+of+demographic+changes+on+United+States+higher+education+2000-2050.&sourceid=ie7&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-SearchBox&ie=&oe=
Marx, S. (2006) Revealing the invisible: Confronting passive racism in teacher education. New York, New York: Routledge.
McIntyre, D.J., Byrd, D. M., & Foxx, S.M. (1996). "Field and laboratory experiences." In J. Sikula, T.J. Buttery, & E. Guyton (Eds.), Handbook of research on teacher education (2nd ed.), (pp. 171-193. New York: Macmillan.
Miller, T. N., Dvein, M., & Shoop, R. J. (2007). Closing the leadership gap: How district and university partnerships shape effective school leaders. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press.
National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. (2010) Panel call for turning teacher education 'upside down,' centering curricula around classroom-ready training and increasing oversight and expectations. http://www.ncate.org/Public/Newsroom/NCATENewsPressReleases/tabid/669/EntryId/125/Panel-Calls-for-Turning-Teacher-Education-Upside-Down-Centering-Curricula-around-Classroom-Ready-Training-and-Increasing-Oversight-and-Expectations.aspx
Powell, R., Zehm, S., & Garcia, J. (1996). Field experience: Strategies for exploring diversity in schools. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.
Trubowitz, S. & Longo, P. (1997). How it works: Inside a school-college collaboration. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Katherine K. Wallman, K. K. (2011). America's children in brief: Key national indicators of well-being, 2011, demographic background. Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. http://www.childstats.gov/americaschildren/demo.asp
Williams, B. (1997, summer). "Challenges and opportunities for collaboration in teacher education programs." Action in Teacher Education, 89-96.
III. Goal Descriptions
Goal 1: Define and describe levels of partnership. To create a strategic plan for partnership development it is necessary to lay out a working definition of partnerships that describes the distinctions in existing and future relationships with outside institutions and departments. This work was begun in 2000 and updated in 2011 as follows.
Field experiences within the CSB/SJU education program are holistically designed and take place on one of three tiers of progression. Tier One experiences are offered through first level (IA), second level (IB), and third level (IC) foundations courses. Tier Two experiences support learning opportunities provided in pedagogy or "methods" courses, while Tier Three "capstone experiences" include candidates' clinical work done during the full-semester student teaching. The tier descriptions are used as a resource for faculty and school partners to enhance their understanding of their role in the overall experience of teacher candidates. (Please see Attachment A for the complete tier level description.)
In 2010-2011 academic year there were 1,280 field placements of CSB/SJU teacher candidates. This includes 206 prospective candidate field placements, 706 pedagogy course clinical placements, and 182 student teaching placements. In addition to these placements, the Service Learning Office assisted the Education Department with 186 field placements for service learning projects. We expect the number of field placements to remain fairly stable over the next five years. This large number of placements requires that we work with many schools to find appropriate field and clinical sites.
The Education Department worked successfully with several schools in the past, some more intensively than others. Schools have responded very positively to having our candidates involved in their schools, typically remarking that they are well-prepared and helpful to have in the classroom. Nonetheless, our goal is continuous improvement. One area of intended improvement is to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of practica and the placement structure with shared knowledge and intention of placement requests. Further, with a structure intentionally designed to create lab-like experiences could simultaneously deepen the quality of the placements. Additionally, as the Education Department works with many schools, we need to continually review the services we offer our partner K-12 schools to sustain our mutually beneficial model of partnership. Continuing changes in Minnesota's state licensure requirements also shape field experience requirements. The partnership levels described here are intended to address these limitations and problems.
Formal Partnership Level. The partnership plan specifies more formal intensive relationships with schools who agree to be our Formal Partnership Schools. These schools are chosen based on historical relationship, geographic location, and their interest in working with our program. Formal Partnership Schools are those with which we enter into formal agreements that describe 1) a mutually beneficial collaboration, 2) a school-college partnership committee which will define goals for the year, 3) an outlined assessment/reflection process for an end-of-year review of the partnership, and 4) a commitment to advise the Education Department on the design and effectiveness of their shared responsibility for the preparation of teacher candidates via a Partnership Advisory Council.
The Education Department discusses and plans development and implementation of projects and programs with schools with mutual "enlightened self interest" (Trubowitz & Longo, 1997). These may include mentoring and training of pre-teachers, staff development, collaborative practica development between pedagogy courses and student teaching, and tutoring programs, first developed with South Junior High School. It also may focus on student enrichment and embedded professional development - as is being considered with Kennedy Community School and Avon Elementary. (Please see Partnership Plan 2011-2012 for a more detailed description of current partnership events.)
An example of a Formal Partnership School as defined in this plan is the collaborative effort with Holdingford Elementary School. This science partnership was enthusiastically piloted in Fall 2002. Currently the program focuses on the elementary student, hands-on learning and reflective teaching, and content and pedagogical training for the science teacher. Every year all students in EDUC 334 Elementary Science Pedagogy observe and teach science in Holdingford classrooms. Each semester the college faculty, school teachers, and the principal meet on-site for program assessment, revision consideration, and next semester planning collaboration. Further, Holdingford teachers are invited to the annual Literacy Conference, Fine Arts Programming events, guided field trips to the CSB/SJU Arboretum and prairie restoration project, and may attend facilitated professional development in-services focused on STEM education with college/university faculty. In recent years, however, shifting student needs, new staff, and realignment of school resources have encouraged a lower level of partnership with Holdingford Elmentary.
Additionally we have several formal partnership schools for the Elementary Education Block Semester. During this education-intensive semester all students have immersion experiences in urban schools with highly diverse populations. Initially these schools included Risen Christ Elementary, EXPO Elementary, and San Miguel Middle school. Exemplifying the changing nature of education and partnership endeavors, this year San Miguel closed due to low enrollment. Consequently the Education Department will respond to this shift in our program with negotiations for new or enlarged partnerships with other urban schools.
As of May 2011, some formal partnership schools are Holdingford Elementary, South Junior High, St. Joseph Lab School, St. Boniface Elementary, and Kennedy Elementary. Additional schools that have communicated interest in partnership development with the Education Department are targeted for future development.
Cooperating Level. The partnership plan identifies Cooperating Schools as those that play an important role in the quality of our field experience program, but do so less extensively than our Formal Partnership schools. Cooperative schools host pre-teachers for field experiences, often participate in college/university sponsored opportunities, and have had a presence on our licensure program advisory councils. The Education Department intends to continue building relationships with Cooperative Schools by learning more about their programs, sharing knowledge, mission statements, diversity statistics and plans, consulting with school teachers and administrators, and developing cooperative projects as needs arise.
Categorization of a Cooperative School is not static and that school may move into Formal Partnership Status should it or the college develop new needs that could be addressed through partnership. For example, as the Education Department responds to San Miguel's closing, other schools that have worked with CSB/SJU may be ask to consider a more formal arrangement to support the diversity urban immersion experience for the Elementary Education Block.
Networking Level. The networking level describes the working relationships within the colleges. The Education Department recognizes the need to continue networking and building relationships with our peers in the institution to better support K-12 formal partnerships and cooperatives. Networking increases the resources available to build and support partnerships. The Education Department has intentionally networked with several departments within the institution including Service Learning, ESL, Events Office, Admissions, Fine Arts Programming and America Reads. Our networking with the Admission Office enables the unit to bring middle level students from inner city schools for a campus visit day where students participate in classes, tour the campus, enjoy recreational facilities like the "climbing wall," and have lunch. The unit's candidates host these middle level students so as to encourage them to begin thinking about attending a college.
Goal 2: Strengthen and build mutually beneficial relationships with schools that will ensure early, continuous, and increasingly complex and reflective school experiences by providing candidates with multiple opportunities to teach and observe young people in real world settings. Once admitted to the program, Elementary Education candidates have from nine to ten course-related clinical experiences, depending on their licensure. Secondary candidates have fewer clinical practica because they complete two pedagogy courses for the span of their licensure (5-12 span; middle level 5-8 and high school 9-12 methods). Some students elect to complete their college service learning requirement in a school setting. The additional capstone clinical experience is the full-semester supervised student teaching that occurs when all licensure course work is completed.
Area schools have regularly and very willingly worked with the Education Department with field placements, and we now have cohesive and ongoing relationships with several schools that work with our department in a particular content area, which enables deeper, more enduring and mutually beneficially relationships to develop between college/university and schools. Furthermore, formal partnerships help us align the needs of our candidates with those of schools as we work to intentionally connect the content of our course with the curriculum in K-12 classrooms where our candidates practice. Also, course-level partnering with K-12 schools fosters attentiveness to the needs of those schools. The partnering college faculty has an increased sensitivity to how their partner teachers and schools may or may not be experiencing a spirit of reciprocity. Reciprocity is the key to ensuing continued success of the teacher education program.
To maximize potential for wider reciprocity in our college and K-12 school collaborative efforts, it is necessary to tap the resources of our two colleges. The Education Department specifically, and the two colleges in general, have a longstanding presence in area schools and in their work with youth. For example, all students come into the education program through Education 111, Introduction to Teaching in a Diverse World, during which time they complete a 25-hour Service Learning project. Across all academic departments, CSB/SJU students have a strong presence in the larger community though their Service Learning projects in schools and community agencies. In the 2010-2011 academic year, college students from all majors completed a total of 18,382.4 hours of service. Our colleges' Fine Arts Programming brings concerts, plays, and visual arts shows and school staff development opportunities to the greater Central Minnesota area. The America Reads Program sponsors approximately 33 college students who tutored challenged readers in area schools in the 2010-2011 year. Our colleges host the summer Upward Bound program, a TRIO program funded by U.S. Department of Education, provides services to low-income potential first generation college students in Willmar, Foley, Apollo, and Tech High Schools who wish to pursue a post secondary education. The Internship Office also regularly places students in schools for a variety of opportunities. CSB/SJU welcomes all area schools to participate in tours of college and university resources and projects including the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library, the art galleries, Biology Department Greenhouse, Natural Science Museum, and the Prairie Restoration Project and Arboretum.
The Education Department has a long history of involvement in many area schools with the presence of teacher candidates in their classrooms, faculty consulting with curriculum development teams, and other professional development work with K-12 teachers. Because area schools work with pre-teachers in training programs from multiple institutions, it is particularly important to recall that schools could easily become overwhelmed with requests for mentoring and training. Our program must, therefore, be sensitive to the demands we place on teachers and ensure that they know we appreciate the vital work they do with candidates. Schools and their teachers must find value in their partnerships with our colleges and department.
Our work on this goal must continue to explore and expand ways in which our faculty and students serve our partner K-12 schools. The following objectives, if achieved through the development or related activities to be stipulated in the year ahead, may help us reach this goal.
Objective #1: Communication between institutions.
- Redefine one of the unit's administrative positions to include enhanced partnership responsibilities with enhanced financial compensation. (Met Fall 2011)
- Partnership Director and Directors of Elementary and Secondary Student Teaching, and methods faculty meet to envision collaborative practica activities and plan process for communication and collaboration with cooperating schools. (Begun Fall 2011 and continuing)
- Meet with principals or institutional directors and teachers to introduce staff, programs, and emerging concerns with securing field and clinical placements. (Met Spring 2012)
- Partnership director and college faculty work with K-12 school personnel to establish procedures for requesting field placements and identifying contact persons for partnership schools. (Begun Spring 2012 and continuing)
- Tour schools in order to gain a greater familiarity with each school
- Exchange mission statements, diversity plan, program information, etc. Establish vision for collaboration and address K-12 student-centered needs in schools that CSB/SJU may be able to contribute response.
- Visit with Department chairs in order to establish a clear sense of relationship, build trust and foster authentic communication.
Objective #2: Provide professional development opportunities for local schools.
Objective #3: Encourage and support the Minnesota Reading Corps.
Objective #4: Encourage and support Stem Program Development.
Objective #5: Establish South Junior High School practica focused on helping struggling readers.
Goal 3: Ensure Field Experience Opportunities in classrooms enrolling learners from diverse populations. A major focus of our investment in school partnerships since 2001, our pursuit of this goal has provided our candidates with opportunities to teach and learn from K-12 students from diverse races, ethnicities, cultures, family income, gender, behavioral or academic development. This goal is integrated with our Unit Diversity Plan. The 2012 Diversity Plan offers a detailed review of our efforts to date. The following information recalls portions of that planning document.
The Education Department's Unit Diversity Plan ensures that candidates have the exposure to diverse student populations during field experiences integrated with elementary (EDUC 212) and secondary (EDUC 213) Clinical Experience courses. All students enrolled in these two courses complete do field work in urban classrooms with diverse populations. The courses include a one-week urban immersion balanced with 30 hours of meaningful multicultural training in the real world setting of the classroom with the necessary intentional and focused reflections (Marx, 2006). All students also have a 30-hour service learning experience with high-risk students through the collaborative efforts of our institution in area schools, area youth organizations, and urban schools. Further, many practica and nearly all student teaching placements are in diverse schools.
We have set continuous improvement goals to ensure that students have opportunities to observe and practice teaching strategies that provide multiple perspectives and culturally relevant learning experiences in classrooms with diverse populations. Our primary goal is to provide and maintain clinical experiences in classrooms with diverse populations. Within this focus we have five primary objectives (See also 2011 Unit Diversity Plan).
Objective 1: Develop an Study Abroad- International Teaching Externship (ITE). Completed after a candidate has satisfied all student teaching requirements, the ITE sites now available include Germany and Belize. As a post-student teaching intercultural experience, ITE teachers work with international teaching professionals as volunteer teacher aides, teaching assistants, team-teachers, and/or research assistants in globally diverse K-12 classrooms. The four to six week externship begins soon after the successful completion of student teaching in early May or January. Since this is not a student teaching experience, externship students experience a more natural, relaxed educational environment while engaging in a new culture and educational system. (Please see Attachment D for the ITE proposal to the Curriculum Committee.)
Objective 2: Build on existing campus programs and sites through Service Learning and Alternative Break Programs. (Boys and Girls Clubs, Minnesota Reading Corps, Saturday Success School, LaCruz, Somali After School Tutoring (SASSO), Casa Guadalupe and College Bound)
Objective 3.1: Identify and inquire with additional urban schools with diverse population to expand the base of schools for the urban immersion in the EEBlock.
Objective 3.2: Increase the ratio of candidates in the local 30-hour experience in the more diverse schools.
Objective 4: Teacher candidates are aware of and practice using strategies that bring multiple perspectives to the discussion of subject matter, including attention to students' personal, family, and community experiences and cultural norms.
Objective 5: Candidates use knowledge of students' families, cultures, and communities as a basis for designing culturally relevant learning experiences and connecting instruction to students' experiences.
- Examine the changing diversity statistics for all partnership schools and determine diversity field experience opportunities and communicate interest in collaborative effort
- Exchange updated current diversity plans with partnership schools
- Investigate opportunities to establish and develop clinical opportunities in area ESL programs
- Continue ongoing collaboration with South Junior High clinical experience/volunteer tutoring program with students with diverse learning needs
- Investigate possibility of developing a clinical experience/volunteer tutoring program in additional partner schools to work with students with diverse learning needs
- With school partnership committees, identify resources for diversity education and experiences that might be shared to enhance teacher training and P-12 education
- Review the literature addressing field experiences and partnerships for diversity to ensure a clear understanding of the concept
- Responding to shared assessments of partnership design and practice, respond as appropriate meeting with teachers, principals, forming partnership committees, discussing reciprocal needs, sharing diversity plans, streamlining assessment process, and/or implementing changes in field experience program
- Continue to develop the plan for externship study abroad.
Goal 4: Develop a unified field experience program by examining the efficiency and effectiveness of the unit's approach to foundation course fieldwork, pedagogy course practica and student teaching clinical placements that better integrates selected courses with potential sites. Several of our area and an increasing number of urban schools in the Minneapolis and Saint Paul area have established and maintain a successful partnership with the unit. Clearly, school teachers and administrators share the college faculty's belief field experience requirements will serve K-12 learning and meet real needs in K-12 schools while simultaneously enabling candidates' development as novice educators prepared for their first teaching position. Pursuing the need for good communication and shared decision-making, college faculty members have consulted K-12 teachers and staff on choices and development of curriculum for field work. This communication has further supported college and school faculty in what they are teaching in the college and school classroom. Furthermore, it enabled the candidates to be better prepared for and move more easily into field experiences.
For example, the South Junior High School program partnership through the EDUC 358 Middle level literacy courses provide tutoring and literacy development while simultaneously meeting necessary literacy standards for candidates to apply knowledge and develop skills. This program, developed collaboratively with South Junior High School, ensures that students will be prepared for the experience and class and individual reflection on practice deepens learning to develop the professional and pedagogical skills and dispositions as outlined in standards.
College/university faculty and school teachers consult before and after field experiences in an effort to more effectively bring together course content, classroom practice, and field experiences. The St. Boniface Math partnership individuals, for example, communicate before all practicum work, and after clinical work faculty meet with teachers and administrators for an assessment meeting during which time strengths and weakness are reviewed, discussed and plan strategies for improvement. Next year planning involves all teachers, college/university faculty, and the principal.
During the Elementary Education Block, (EEBlock), candidates take only education courses and complete a significant field component. The EEBlock Urban Immersion and local partnerships allow candidates to be involved as part of an instructional team in school-based projects, work collaboratively, reflect individually and together, attend faculty meetings, occasionally meet with parents, and participate in the overall school program. In classrooms candidates have opportunity to observe, assist, do small and large group work, instruct, tutor, and other activities as the mentor teachers and college faculty deem appropriate. (Please see Attachment B for a sample reflection activity.)
Preparation for the field experience takes place in the A mod (each semester comprised of four mods, A-D) and the field work takes place in the B mod. During the following C and D mods, students have ongoing opportunity throughout the semester to reflect on and connect their field work to theory and course content. (Please see Attachment C, 2010-2011 Partnership Update, for a more comprehensive list and description of various partnership activities.)
Our continuous improvement objectives for Goal 4 are as follows:
Objective #1: Examine strategies for cost reductions and various concerns for candidates.
Objective #2: Address redundancy in placements/overlap between student teaching and practicum.
Objective #3: Consider lab-like structure rather than individual class placements.
Objective #4: Minimize the number but deepen the quality of placements.
Objective #5: Strategize moving student teaching placements earlier.
Goal 5. Establish clearer links between pedagogy course practica, state and national standards and assessment strategies to support the Teacher Performance Assessment. Minnesota's Board of Teaching has adopted the Stanford/Pearson Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA) as an indicator of program effectiveness. The unit participated in pilot and field testing over the past three years, integrating it with the unit's required teacher work sample. All student teachers complete the TPA, but the results will not be used for program review until the fall of 2014, at which time the Board anticipates that the many difficulties with the implementation of this candidate self-report indicator of teaching practice will have been resolved.
Faculty and administrative staff continue their investigation into the requirements and benefits of TPA. While there is still much to be learned about the administration and value of this assessment, an initial review suggests that it may be necessary to secure placements earlier to integrate TPA tasks with pedagogy practica prior to student teaching. Some benefits may result if teacher candidates complete practica and some TPA tasks in the same K-12 classrooms where they will later complete their student teaching and the remaining tasks. Candidates could strengthen relationships with cooperating teachers, students, and other school staff. Furthermore, a linked practicum-student teaching experience could provide stronger practicum experiences for candidates. Candidates could take part in more school events, such as parent-teacher conferences and school staff meetings, for an additional semester before beginning their student teaching.
Objective #1: Complete investigation of design, use, and scoring of TPA.
Objective #2: Determine how and where our licensure programs, courses, and field experiences support TPA tasks.
Objective #3: Identify effective and meaningful ways to prepare candidates to successfully complete the TPA.