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Given the growing demands and intricacies of today's schools, teacher preparation programs must foster meaningful learning experiences conducive to meeting those complex conditions. Since teachers do not face compliant social conditions within schools, they must have optimal learning opportunities during preservice education. Teacher professional development must undertake the task of preparing them for democratic classrooms. This paper describes such philosophy as related to Fort Hays State University's TEAM 2000 program in one Kansas elementary school. Team 2000 offers early experiential training that gives preservice teachers first-hand experience in the dynamics of the classroom and teaches the demands of democratic teaching and learning. This paper highlights the benefits of early field experience programs as revealed by participants in the teacher education program. Students completed a survey after their first-year field experience. Their responses illustrated the many benefits to participating in the field experience program and described how the program helped shape their positive attitudes and guide their motivation. Keys to successful field experiences included enhanced communication, concrete experiences, triangulated assessment, positive environments, flexible placement, and solid partnerships among institutions. An appendix presents the field/seminar experience survey that students completed after their first-year field experience. (Contains 12 references.) (Author/SM)

Descriptors: College School Cooperation, Democratic Values, Diversity (Student), Elementary Education, Field Experience Programs, Higher Education, Partnerships in Education, Preservice Teacher Education, Student Teacher Attitudes, Teaching Experience

Autor: Suleiman, Mahmoud F.


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