As teacher preparation programs continue evolving to provide more purposeful learning opportunities for teacher candidates, collaboration amongst teacher educators plays a crucial role.
During the American Educational Research Association’s 2016 meeting, teacher educators from the University of Washington College of Education shared insights from their democratic process of planning a redesign of College’s secondary teacher education program.
As part of redesigning the program’s second quarter, UW teacher candidates engaged in a four-part learning cycle to build their skills engaging with students from diverse communities. Every candidate participated in a practicum with a common text, mentor teacher and group of students, providing a common space where they were able learn from one another.
Renee Shank, a doctoral student in multicultural education who was a member of the research team, said the democratic process of UW's teacher educators helped model and teach candidates how to build relationships with their students.
"It allowed us to be more cohesive as a program," Shank said. "Being with the same mentor teacher, our candidates were seeing the same practice enacted and could talk about that together. They could see how their peers where reacting to a certain behavioral situation and think "What would I have done differently? How would I approach this in my own classroom?"
Researcher Winston Benjamin, a doctoral student in multicultural education, said the program redesign highlighted the importance in both research and teacher preparation to provide space for everyone to share their voice and ideas.
"We have to work not in isolation," Benjamin said. "We have to work collaboratively with our teacher candidates, with our schools, and with our students."
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