The Future of Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Identifying Excellence: A New Model for the Teacher Education Practicum

Amy Burns, University of calgary (Canada)


The paper proposed here will examine the efforts of one Canadian school district to redesign the current model used by schools and universities in placing pre-service teachers into practicum learning contexts.  Historically, pre-service teachers from teacher education faculties in Canada have been placed with cooperating teachers through a partnership between teachers and principals and the university faculty.  University faculty have requested the assistance of potential cooperating teachers and those that are interested in hosting a university student then respond to this request.  While efficient and often beneficial to all parties, there is little attention given to the readiness of the practicing teacher, outside of recommendations around years of practice, to guide a pre-service teacher.

This research will examine the on-going development of a new model for cooperating teacher identification and selection.  Through a working group established in one Canadian school board, a protocol was developed for examining the readiness and passion of practicing teachers expressing interest in hosting pre-service practicum teachers.  This protocol focuses on various areas of teacher readiness including knowledge of curriculum, diversity of pedagogical techniques, attention to differentiated instruction and diversity of assessment practices.  Notably, however, is the added ability of this protocol to highlight areas of passion for the practicing teacher, allowing university personnel to match pre-service teachers and practicing teachers on areas other than teaching specialization.  Finally, this protocol involved school-based leadership in the identification process, allowing the practicum to become a meaningful part of the professional development of all involved.

While the existing literature base on pre-service teacher education practicum placements is broad, there is little that questions the process by which that placement is made originally.  This research will examine the theoretical assumptions around teacher readiness and present a new model for pre-service teacher education practicums that addresses the role of the school in identifying excellence.

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