A Candidate’s Perspective on the Clinical Practice Summit
I was honored to attend AACTE’s Clinical Practice Summit earlier this month, where the common theme was creating a unified profession to improve teacher preparation programs. It was wonderful to see so many passionate educators working to make improvements for future educators like me.
During the summit, I was able to sit in on the conversations of various groups and heard about roadblocks facing education policy. One that was mentioned repeatedly is the fact that many policy makers have no experience in education to inform policies that are truly helpful. There is also a persistent disconnect between higher education institutions and PK-12 schools. One participant noted that many principals still do not know what edTPA is, for example, making it hard to implement. This is just one of the many examples that show the necessity of better communicating and operating as a unified profession.
Another roadblock pointed out was inconsistent funding; while grants may fund an institution’s efforts in clinical practice, as soon as the funding runs out, the program often shuts down. Summit participants said there needs to be an organization dedicated to clinical practice to keep programs in place for teacher candidates, just as Medicare provides federal funding to keep residencies in place for medical students.
The group also agreed on the necessity to agree on a common definition of what clinical practice even means. I appreciated the point that the only way for clinical practice to really work is by elevating awareness—by showing how significant it is and making sure there is an understanding that everyone along the pipeline is responsible for implementing and sustaining it.
I found the research presented by the design and implementation group to be particularly interesting from a teacher candidate’s perspective. One of the aspects of this group’s presentation was an interview study in which teacher candidates were interviewed toward the end of their program on mentoring, assessments, differentiation, and classroom management. The survey showed that 68% of teacher candidates mentioned not having enough practical experience. This is always the number-one complaint that I hear as well, so I am very appreciative of all the educators working on supporting clinical practice to improve teacher preparation programs in more institutions.
Abigail Mercadante is an intern with AACTE, serving as media relations coordinator this summer. She is a senior at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania working toward teaching certification in secondary education social studies.