Back to the Future of Teacher Education

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This past February, I contemplated the future of pre-service teacher education based on a conversation I engaged in at PETE&C - facilitated by Dr. James Bolton and Mr. Jarrin Sperry. 

"Because of the ever changing fields of technology and the learning sciences, pre-service teachers must be trained to be adaptive experts... Adaptive experts 'are much more likely to evolve their core competencies and continually expand the breadth and depth of their expertise as the need arises or as their interests demand.' (Rook, 2011)"

Just last week (June 28), Dr. Bolton and Mr. Sperry facilitated a panel and follow-up discussion at the 2011 ISTE Conference in Philly titled "Preparing Teachers for the Digital Age." In addition to Dr. Bolton and Mr. Sperry, the panel included the following teachers and/or teacher educators: Dr. Luis Almeida, Dr. Orrin Murray, and Ms. Rosemary Parmigiani. This post provides a synthesis of the discussion based on the backchannel feed and draws on thoughts from my past blog post to rethink the future of teacher education.

What must we avoid in the future of teacher education?
  • "it's not always about the equipment... more about the philosophy of tech integration" ~R. Morse
  • "my teachers struggle not only with the philosophy but how to use them as a part of a classroom routine" ~D. High
The consensus is that pre-service teachers do not have appropriate knowledge of the philosophies behind using technology in a specific lesson. Moreover, consistently using technology based on sound learning theory in a classroom routine presents challenges for pre-service teachers. Rather than separating technology, pedagogy, and content in TPCK models of teacher education, we must present technology in line with appropriate learning theories in specific content lessons, not on its own in an educational technology course. 

How do we present technology in line with appropriate learning theories in specific content lessons?
  • the profs must model for the pre-service teachers to break the cycle" ~V. Glatzer
  • "we can't model based on assumptions that the district will block something... instead model best practice so that they (pre-service teachers) can be a proponent for what should not be blocked" ~V. Glatzer
Teacher educators must lead by example. If there is any hope of having pre-service teachers come away from their teacher ed. programs with the knowledge and skill to use technology to support their teaching and learning processes, the teacher educators must demonstrate how this works. We cannot expect educational technologists who have little to no experience teaching in the K-12 classroom to guide our future teachers in applying appropriate learning theories to practice in technology integration. Instead, we must require teacher educators to be in the K-12 classroom themselves - constantly observing best practices so they are not left behind and teaching old paradigms to a group of pre-service teachers that will be expected to teach using a new paradigm.

What is the takeaway? What should the future of teacher education look like?
  • "we need teachers that can adapt to whatever they have available" ~J. Sperry
Regardless of whether students are asked to BYOT (bring your own technology) or use their mobile devices, we must have an expectation that teachers will adapt to new systems and not fold under the pressure of using new technology. After all, isn't lifelong learning a requirement of the teaching profession? We MUST be willing to fail and go back to the drawing board, learning from our communities of practice: local teachers, students, and learning communities on the Internet. That goes for all in the profession: pre-service teachers, in-service teachers, and most importantly, teacher educators. 

References
Rook, M. M. (2011, February 23). The future of pre-service teacher education [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.personal.psu.edu/sum16/blogs/innovation_studio/2011/02/the-future-of-pre-service-teacher-education.html

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