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Clinical Partnership Mutually Benefits Teacher Candidates, Mentors, and PK-12 Students

A new set of brief videos in AACTE’s Research-to-Practice Spotlight Series focuses on operationalizing clinical practice through the award-winning partnerships of Ohio University’s Patton College of Education (see this article introducing the series, this overview of the first three videos, and this summary of the next four videos). Today’s article highlights messages from the next three segments, which feature faculty and administrators from the partner schools as well as Patton College students.

The Patton College of Education at Ohio University and its professional development school (PDS) partners have cultivated a clinical model of educator preparation that benefits not only teacher candidates but also PK-12 students and mentor teachers. While candidates build their own skills, they also contribute new techniques and energy to their host classrooms, reduce the student-to-teacher ratio, and bring much-needed diversity to the partner schools’ teaching staff.

Susan Shafer, a teacher liaison at Trimble Elementary School, has come to rely on these benefits. “What I like best is that it’s a yearlong partnership,” she said. “I know I will have a teacher candidate in my classroom all year. I can plan my day around things I can have them do. [They provide] extra resources in my classroom to do small-group work, coteaching, and collaboration.”

Mentor teachers also appreciate the opportunity to reflect on their own methodology. “As a veteran [mentor] teacher, having the young teacher candidates makes me reflect on my own practices,” said Heidi Mullins, a cooperating teacher at Morrison-Gordon Elementary School. “We are accountable for a lot of different things, and sometimes we forget what best practices for children are. [. . .] The teacher candidates keep us fresh and help us to reflect on our practices. It’s a fresh reminder to the mentors of why we went into the profession in the first place.”

The Patton College has also been working successfully to recruit and prepare a more diverse pool of teachers to better reflect student demographics. Even before graduation, minority candidates are improving the diversity of classroom leadership in their clinical preparation sites. In addition, the PDS settings connect teacher candidates with students from a variety of backgrounds, helping to build culturally responsive practice among all Patton College candidates.

“It’s great for students to see people from different areas, but on the other side it’s great that the teacher candidates get to experience children from different backgrounds as well,” said Heather Skinner, principal at The Plains Elementary School.

Hear from these educators and others in this series of videos in the Innovation Exchange: “Growing Together,” “Sharing Knowledge,” and “Preparing for the Future.”

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Melvin Bogard

Media Relations Coordinator Intern