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Radio Show Spotlights AACTE Clinical Practice Commission

Education Talk Radio host Larry Jacobs interviewed members of AACTE’s Clinical Practice Commission in a radio show December 19:

  • Rodrick Lucero, Vice President, AACTE
  • Audra Parker, Associate Professor, George Mason University
  • Kristien Zenkov, Professor, George Mason University

AACTE’s commission, which includes dozens of expert practitioners and researchers from a variety of PK-12 and university settings, will be releasing its findings at a national press briefing January 17 following 3 years of work. Lucero said their work stems from a need to reach a national consensus  about clinical preparation of educators in order to better define the practice and make it more accessible across the country. Zenkov said this work should help professionalize preparation and combat low-quality practices.

Jacobs asked how today’s clinical practice differs from the one-semester student teaching he completed years ago, which he described as having little engagement from the mentor teacher after the first few days of his placement.

Zenkov said that although practice varies from program to program, today’s expectations of clinical preparation are usually much different from what Jacobs experienced. “We work with the coteaching model,” he explained. “The mentor will stay in the room, will assist the new teacher, and will even be directed by the preservice teacher to assist.” Zenkov works with preservice secondary-level teachers at partner sites in Northern Virginia.

Parker, who teaches elementary-level candidates, said her students have two options for clinical placements, one lasting a semester and the other a full year – and both using coteaching.

Lucero explained that teacher candidates also are in the schools earlier in their program than in the past. “You’re not just in the schools for that last [semester],” he said. “If you’re going to be a teacher, you need to spend time in schools, not spend time in the university.”

Jacobs asked whether candidates are anxious about more rigorous clinical preparation given the high stakes for them to become licensed and find a job. Lucero said the extended time in school settings accommodates candidates’ development well and also gives them ample opportunity to determine whether the field is right for them. “We’ve got 2 years to either coach them to do well or to coach them out of the profession,” he said. Parker added that the internship period is treated as a progressive continuum without “scoring” evaluations until the end, and even then the marks are simply “satisfactory/not satisfactory” rather than letter grades to alleviate pressure on candidates.

It’s not only the candidates but also university faculty who are spending more time in schools than in the past. Zenkov said many university-based teacher educators now consider the schools their home.

The commission hopes to extend its work in several channels after the report is released, Lucero said. These ambitions include offering coaching team visits to districts, developing a national clinical practice center, internationalizing the work, focusing on the first 3 years of practice, and more.

You can listen to the full December show here, and learn more about Education Talk Radio at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/edutalk.

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