red Supported Site University of Arizona: Early Teaching Experience

Successes

  • Students in our program are involved in classroom experiences from the very first course in the program, resulting in some 130 hours of experiences prior to student teaching. As a result, our student teachers claimed, and their mentors agree, that they are well prepared for student teaching.
  • Involving secondary teachers in developing curricula for the field experiences has resulted in a rich set of classroom tasks that enhance the field experiences.
  • Students are assigned to both middle and high school classrooms in the first two courses in the program, which allows them to make an informed decision about the grade level they prefer to teach.

Challenges

  • Coordinating this large number of field experiences each semester is a continuing challenge, as is recruiting sufficient numbers of mentor teachers to host our students.
  • Supervising large numbers of student teachers in a given semester is a challenge, given limited resources for adjunct instructors.

Sustainability/Institutional Buy-In

  • We are absolutely committed to continuing this level of field experiences. Each semester, we recruit several more mentor teachers, primarily by word of mouth, to maintain the appropriate number of potential classrooms.
  • We are continually experimenting with the format of the various field experiences to maximize their effectiveness.

Lessons Learned

  • A surprising number of our students entered the program planning to teach high school, but changed their mind after a field experience in a middle school.
  • It is critical to continually look ahead to future semesters to project the numbers of students, especially student teachers, so as to adequately prepare for program growth.

Activity Summary

  • Of the five science pedagogy courses taken by students in the CoS TPP prior to student teaching, three of the courses include a field experience in local middle and high school science classrooms, while one includes an on-campus teaching experience. This provides some 120 hours of classroom experience prior to student teaching.
  • In the first program course, Teaching Science, students spend 16-20 hours in classrooms, completing targeted observations. The observation tasks for this field were written by the teacher partners during summer workshops, and were reviewed and revised in March 2007.
  • In the second program course, Adolescent Learning in Science and Mathematics, students complete 16-20 hours in local classrooms, completing small research projects related to the course content. Projects include gathering evidence of transfer and application of learning, examining student motivation, and conducting classroom inquiry investigations.
  • In one of the advanced program courses, Managing Science Instruction in Diverse Classrooms, students complete an eight-week internship. In the first week of the internship, students observe how science teachers establish a productive learning environment. Later in the semester, students work for seven weeks with one of the mentor teacher’s classes, co-teaching and co-planning, and teaching the class for two weeks.
  • In the other advanced program course, Planning and Implementing Science Curriculum, students in the class colloborate with the course instructor to teach a general-education science class at UAz. This model allows all of the preservice teachers to focus on teaching the same topics, which provides opportunities for rich discussions and evaluations of each other’s work.
  • The student teaching experience in the CoS TPP encompasses an entire secondary school semester. Student teachers teach a minimum of four classes for four weeks; most student teachers in the program teach more than this minimum. During this time, student teachers also attend faculty meetings and parent conferences, and observe other teachers’ classrooms, including special education classes.