Clinical experience is critical to the success of teacher candidates. It allows them to receive real classroom experience while they foster relationships with students and build their own instructional skills.
But, even with the skills they learn leading up to the clinical experience, teacher candidates can’t just enter the field and be expected to succeed. There’s a whole host of skills that cannot be taught in a college classroom or via a textbook. And, teacher candidates—just like classroom teachers themselves—need ongoing coaching and feedback to continuously improve their practice.
This article originally appeared on KUNC.org and is reprinted with permission.
At East Elementary school in Littleton, a group of fifth graders is seated in a semi-circle around student teacher Stephanie Shufelt for their morning meeting.
“Yesterday we talked about resiliency. Can someone remind me of what that actually meant?” she asks.
“To keep trying,” 10-year-old Brisaida Velasco replies.
“To keep trying, right,” Shufelt says. “When tough times hit, you’re able to bounce back.”
Four days a week, time is set aside for teachers to focus on social-emotional learning and teaching students self-regulation skills. At this meeting, Shufelt discusses strategies that can help them be resilient.
The University of Northern Colorado (UNC) is hosting its National Field Experience Conference April 3 – 5, 2022. The purpose of the conference is to share information, practices, policies, and research pertaining to teacher candidates’ experiences in school settings. Presentations will address the preparation, supervision, and evaluation of teacher candidates for their knowledge, skills, and dispositions. Logistics and management of these placements will also be addressed.
Proposals are being accepted through January 1.
The National Center for Clinical Practice in Educator Preparation (NCCPEP) is a new, cutting-edge organization aimed at supporting clinical practice in educator preparation. NCCPEP was born out of AACTE’s Clinical Practice Commission. After the publication of A Pivot Toward Clinical Practice, Its Lexicon, and the Renewal of Educator Preparation, Commission members saw the need for an association that supports educator preparation programs as they strive to put clinical practice at the center of teacher education.
Addressing the needs of new teachers affected by the twin crises.
Over the past year, COVID-19 created an uncertain landscape that deeply impacted our nation’s educational systems. Compounding the effects of the pandemic, another crisis emerged—racial injustice. These twin crises together have generated new obstacles and exacerbated those that have long been a concern of the educator community. As we reopen schools and return to in-class instruction, teachers face unprecedented challenges toward “getting back to normal,” including safety concerns, the need to address learning loss, and the social and emotional well-being of their students—a daunting undertaking for even the most experienced teacher.
I recently had an incredible learning opportunity to be a part of the AACTE Simulations for Secondary Science Teachers conference. The goal for the convening was to introduce participants to the simulation design process and to support them to create a secondary science simulation scenario in smaller teams. Large group zoom meetings with almost 55 participants provided a valuable opportunity to listen, ask questions, and reflect on matters that concern science teacher preparation. The convening provided just the right amount of stimulation and sense of community that probably many of us were missing due to the recent pandemic. Until now, I saw myself as a user—employing simulations to help my teacher candidates understand and practice core teaching practices. However, being a part of the scenario development team afforded an insider or “behind the scenes’ perspective.” I was able to understand the complexities, affordance, and constraints of the simulation designing process.
Video is a powerful tool—for teacher candidates and teacher educators alike—to engage in reflective practice and accelerate professional growth. And I can say this from personal experience as it has helped me grow as an educator.
As a proponent of video, I believed this innovative professional learning approach would be an asset to the undergraduate elementary teacher preparation program at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Our preparation program is organized around a decolonizing framework that recognizes that schools are designed for acculturation and colonization. And, as such, we prepare teachers who simultaneously teach in—and resist—that context (Trinder, 2021).
As my colleagues and I were talking about bringing video coaching to our program, questions were raised about how to make sure that we do not lose the context-driven aspects of our program that are attended to as our faculty come to know the children, schools, and communities in which our students learn to teach. Questions often associated with any new technology implementation were also brought up: How hard is this going to be to implement? How am I going to use it? Is it going to take too much time?
How can we train teachers to elicit student thinking in ways that position students as sense-makers without being able to place them directly in the field?
The newest episode of Mursion’s Education Roundtable Series will dive into Oakland University’s account of how its math and social studies training program is implementing mixed reality simulations to replace and/or augment field experiences during the global coronavirus pandemic.
On June 8, Sue Wiley will be joined by Dawn Woods, Linda Doornbos, and Cynthia Carver from Oakland University in Rochester, MI. to present their findings. During the Roundtable, the team will discuss emerging themes from their research, such as how simulations supported the development of justice-oriented high-leverage practices within their teacher education program.
The Education Roundtable: The Argument for Mixed Reality Simulations in Teacher Preparation, will include a live simulation demo, as well as a Q&A session where attendees can ask questions about their findings as well as funding, vouchers, and more.
Register now for this free Roundtable.
Teacher candidates benefit from exposure to a range of diverse clinical experiences. Often, the clinical placements teacher candidates experience during their preparation program are limited and do not encompass the variety of settings they will encounter during their careers. While simulations are not a substitute for in-person clinical practice, well-crafted simulations can:
- expose teacher candidates to student populations that are more diverse in terms of learning needs and socio-cultural experiences than they may encounter in their clinical placement
- allow candidates to practice pedagogical approaches that they do not have the opportunity to employ in their clinical placements and to receive immediate feedback on their professional practice
- offer the opportunity to teach courses and/or categories of content beyond the scope of their clinical placements
AACTE has extended the deadline for interested participants to apply to attend the Simulations for Secondary Science Teacher Conference. The extended deadline is May 5, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. EST.
In partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF), AACTE will convene the Simulations for Secondary Science Teachers Conference, June 8-10, 2021, to address the critical need for well-qualified science educators who can teach effectively in a variety of face-to-face and virtual school settings and meet the needs of diverse learners. AACTE received funding from the NSF Discovery Research PreK-12 grant to virtually convene members and strategic partners to advance the use of simulation in science education teacher preparation.
The purpose of this conference is to convene experts across the country to
- identify significant gaps in the clinical preparation of science educators;
- ideate on virtual environments that help address those gaps; and
- develop scenarios through design thinking for EPPs to implement within their programs.
AACTE is excited to announce the call for applications for the Conference to Design Simulations that Enhance the Clinical Preparation of Secondary Science Teachers. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Discovery Research PreK-12 convening grant, the purpose of this conference is to convene experts across the country to (1) identify significant gaps in the clinical preparation of science educators (2) ideate on virtual environments that help address those gaps, and (3) develop scenarios through design thinking for EPPs to implement within their programs.
The conference attendees will be comprised of current high school science teachers, current science teacher candidates, experts in science education, experts in the use of simulation in educator preparation, experts in culturally responsive teaching practices in the sciences, experts in the Next Generation Science Standards, simulation specialists and representatives from partner organizations. Participants must commit to attending three days of the virtual conference (June 8, 9, and 10) along with three monthly (July, August and September) virtual meetings following the conference.
Photo by Allison Shelley for EDUimages
AACTE members have been working to strengthen clinical practice for years, with examples from all across the country—many highlighted in EdPrepMatters each month—of how partnerships between universities and P-12 districts can build great foundations for those aspiring to enter teaching. A dilemma exists for many programs, though, when they increase clinical practice requirements: Candidates—particularly those from under-represented backgrounds—can face financial barriers if clinical placements don’t offer funding to help them fully engage their learning. As Prepared To Teach shared last month through the release of a survey on teacher candidates’ financial burdens, many individuals must either work excessive hours outside of their placements and coursework, or they resort to taking out huge burdens of debt. 
With over five years of work with universities, districts, and schools across the country, Prepared To Teach has developed a framework for thinking about how the field might make strong teacher preparation more affordable. Our “3 Rs” of Sustainably Funded Teacher Preparation—Reduction, Reallocation, and (Re)Investment—can help local partnerships bring high quality preparation programs within reach for more aspiring teachers.
It is clear that the pandemic had a profound impact on teacher education, and clinical practice in particular. The closing of virtually all K-12 schools in the spring of 2020 cascaded back to teacher education, greatly reducing (and certainly altering) the clinical practice experiences of student teachers. This continued into the 2020-21 school year as schools in many communities remained closed for in-person instruction.
To examine how the COVID-19 crisis affected the teacher preparation pipeline in the state of Washington, we surveyed 29 state-accredited educator preparation programs (EPPs) from April to June 2020. The findings showed that more than 80% of responding EPPs waived or reduced the length of time required for student teaching in their undergraduate programs, graduate programs, or both. These reductions raise concerns about the preparation of recent cohorts of teacher candidates to join the teaching workforce.
In October 2019, Frostburg State University (FSU) was awarded a five-year, $4.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for the Maryland Accelerates: Teacher-Leader Residency for Inclusive Excellence program. This new program addresses Absolute Priority and Competitive Preference Priority I under the Department’s Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) Program. By leveraging partnerships in high-need and rural schools, this innovative teacher-leader residency program will help realize State priorities in preparing and retaining highly effective teachers in the critical shortage areas of science, mathematics, computer science, English, and elementary education.
Modeled after the recommendations of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (also known colloquially as the Kirwan Commission), the program includes a full-year practicum, mentorship, extensive classroom observation, and research opportunities with an emphasis on culturally-responsive pedagogy, mathematical problem-solving, and computational thinking followed by an extended induction program. Graduates of the program receive a Master of Arts in Teaching degree and are mentored and supported through their early years of teaching to develop competency-based practices to move them towards achieving National Board Certification.
The newest installment of the AACTE and Mursion Education Roundtable series features high school students using virtual reality (VR) to demonstrate their curriculum-building skills for a chance to earn a scholarship. The roundtable discussion, Innovative Training for Everyday Heroes: University of Wyoming on the use of Virtual Practice for the next Generation of Educators, will take place on April 13 at 1:00 p.m. ET.
Sue Wiley, business development director for education at Mursion, will host Lindsay Freeman and Colby Gull from the University of Wyoming to discuss the WYTeach Contest. During the session, the group will discuss this innovative project and how the team is using Mursion VR Simulations to recreate the classroom environment and replicate a real-world teaching experience.