CLINICAL EXPERIENCES AND THE PREPARATION OF TEACHERS AND SCHOOL LEADERS: BRINGING TECHNOLOGY AND REFLECTION TO THE WORKPLACE
Professional skills required of teachers and school leaders are best developed through an integration of content and theoretical knowledge which are applied and situated in practice. This practice must be real and relevant and therefore best occurs in school embedded experiences. In a 2005 policy brief on the clinical preparation of educators, The American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education asserted that, “high-quality preparation programs are school embedded” (2010). Hammerness, et. al. (2005) reported that effective preparation should provide opportunities for developing educators to practice and reflect on their experience. This paper will explore two critical elements of 21st Century workplace training within schools: 1) reflective practice leading to professional competence, and 2) job embedded experiences with technology which prepare teachers and school administrators for 21st Century Schools.
Workplace Embedded Reflective Practice
Candidates in teacher preparation and educational leadership programs are often required to reflect on their school based experiences. Nevertheless they often fail to successfully recognize and analyze what actually happens. One effective way to teach reflection in observing educational activities is to use Edward DeBono’s Six Hat theory to categorize and separate the components of what is being observed. Separating the factual from the affective is a productive exercise. What actually happened and how one feels about it may be two significantly different things. Good teaching also involves the ability of teachers to break desired skills into logical parts (Silver, 2011). Systematic reflection allows educators to develop critical scaffolding that enables learners to progress from foundational material to more complex concepts.
Workplace Embedded Technology Experiences
The development of 21st pedagogical skills requires teachers and administrators to have access to appropriate technological tools and learning experiences. Saint Leo University’s Education program supports the development of these skills by 1) requiring students to use technology in their field experiences, and 2) providing technology equipment for education students to check out, if such equipment is not available in their workplaces. Students report that having easy access to technology in their field experiences has contributed to their development of pedagogically sound application of technology enhanced learning experiences.
- American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (2010) The Clinical Preparation of Teachers: A Policy Brief. Washington, DC.
- de Bono, Edward (1985). Six Thinking Hats: An Essential Approach to Business Management. Little, Brown, & Company.
- Hammerness, K., Darling-Hammond, L., Bransford, J., Berliner, D., Cochran-Smith, M., McDonald, M., & Zeichner, K. (2005). How teachers learn and develop. In L. Darling-Hammond & J. Bransford Eds.), Preparing teachers for a changing world: What teachers should learn and be able to do (pp. 358-389). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
- Silver, D. “Using the ‘Zone’ to Help Reach Every Learner” Kappa Delta Pi Record, Fall 2011, pages 28 – 31.
- Vygotsky, L.S. 1978 Mind in Society: The development of higher psychological processes, 14th ed., e. M.Cole. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press