Calls for improvement in teacher quality have led to reform initiatives in teacher education. A variety of reports and organizations have classified teaching standards identifying what teachers should know and be able to accomplish. In 1986, the Carnegie Task Force on Teaching as a Profession released its response to A Nation at Risk ( National Commission on Excellence in Education ), a report distributed to congress in 1983. Its response, compiled in A Nation Prepared: Teachers for the 21 st Century , identified teaching standards and has been instrumental in defining and initiating teacher education reform efforts. Another report released in 1986, Tomorrow’s Teachers ( Holmes Group, 1986 ) called for similar types of reform efforts. Two governing boards overseeing beginning and advanced teacher certification standards were established in 1987: (a) Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC) ( Council of Chief State School Officers, n.d. ) and (b) National Board for Professional Teaching Standards ( NBPTS, n.d. ). The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (P.L. 107-110) ( U.S. Department of Education [USDOE], 2004 ) signed into law by President Busch on January 8, 2002 also calls for strengthening of teaching standards and teacher quality.
Reform in teacher preparation is occurring nationally. In a statewide reform effort to improve teacher quality in Georgia, the State Department of Education, Board of Regents, and Professional Standards Commission have all adopted the Georgia Framework for Accomplished Teaching, a framework originally developed by the Georgia Systemic Teacher Education Program ( GSTEP, n.d. ). GSTEP was funded with a U.S. Department of Education grant and consisted of a consortium including The University of Georgia, Valdosta State University, Albany State University, six school districts within Georgia, and other partners throughout the state. GSTEP focused its research on four broad areas important to effective teaching: (a) curriculum, (b) induction, (c) early community and school-based experiences, and (d) program evaluation. The consortium developed a collection of guiding principles for effective teaching and a framework that includes a list of standards and indicators. "The GSTEP Framework for Accomplished Teaching is a replicable statewide induction tool that identifies the knowledge, skills, dispositions, understandings, and other attributes of accomplished teaching. It provides a structure through which novices and their mentors are able to assess and analyze teaching practice," (GSTEP). Consortium members used the framework differently tailoring its components to fit the needs of their preservice teachers and certification standards.
The Georgia Framework for Accomplished Teaching ( Georgia Department of Education [GADOE], 2003 ). provides a description of accomplished teaching standards using six broad categories of teaching skills and abilities: (a) curriculum and content, (b) knowledge of students and their learning, (c) learning environments, (d) assessment, (e) planning and instruction, and (f) professionalism. The Framework is provided in Table 1.Table 1
Georgia Framework of Accomplished Teaching
Content and Curriculum - Teachers demonstrate a strong knowledge of content area(s) appropriate for their certification levels.
- Demonstrate knowledge of content.
- Understand how to teach their subjects.
- Stay current in their subject areas.
- Select and use a wide variety of resources.
- Interpret and construct school curriculum reflecting standards.
Knowledge of Students and Their Learning - Teachers support the intellectual, social, physical, and personal development of all students.
- Believe that all children can learn at high levels and hold high expectations for all.
- Understand how learning occurs in general and in the content areas.
- Be sensitive, alert, and responsive to all aspects of a child‘s well-being.
- Understand how factors in environments may influence students‘ lives and learning.
- Be informed about and adapt their work based on students‘ diverse needs.
- Establish respectful, productive, and cooperative relationships with families.
Learning Environments - Teachers create learning environments that encourage positive social interaction, active engagement in learning, and self-motivation.
- Create a learning community for students.
- Organize, allocate, and manage time, space activities, technology and other resources.
- Understand and implement effective classroom management.
- Recognize the value of and use of knowledge about human motivation and behavior.
- Sustain a culturally responsive classroom.
- Access resources in order to foster students‘ learning and well-being.
- Use effective communication techniques to foster interaction in the classroom.
Assessment - Teachers understand and use a range of formal and informal assessment strategies to evaluate and ensure the continuous development of all learners.
- Understand measurement theory and types of assessment.
- Use preassessment data to select or design appropriate student learning goals.
- Choose, develop, and use classroom-based assessment methods.
- Involve learners in self-assessment.
- Develop and use valid, equitable grading procedures based on student learning.
- Use assessment data to communicate student progress.
- Keep accurate and up-to-date records of student work, behavior, and accomplishments.
- Use assessment to identify student strengths and needs and promote student growth.
Planning and Instruction - Teachers design and create instructional experiences based on their knowledge of content and curriculum, students, learning environments, and assessment.
- Articulate rationales for choices of curriculum and instructional strategies.
- Plan and carry out instruction.
- Understand and use a variety of instructional strategies.
- Monitor and adjust strategies in response to learner feedback.
- Vary their roles in the instructional process.
- Use appropriate resources, materials, and technology to enhance instruction.
- Value and engage in planning as a collegial activity.
Professionalism - Teachers recognize, participate in, and contribute to teaching as a profession.
- Continually examine and extend their knowledge.
- Implement laws related to rights and responsibilities of students, educators, and families.
- Follow established codes of professional conduct, including school district policies.
- Reflect on teaching and learning to improve their practice.
- Seek opportunities to learn based upon reflection, input from others, and career goals.
- Advocate for the diverse needs and high expectations of all students.
- Assume leadership and support roles as part of a school team.
One department specializing in career and technical education (CTE) was an active participant in the GSTEP consortium. There are numerous motives in today‘s society for continually developing and enhancing the skills and knowledge of CTE teachers. Some of the most relevant reasons include rapid changes in technology and the workplace, establishment of higher academic standards, and growing diversity of the student population. Preservice and inservice CTE teachers require varied and ongoing opportunities for professional growth.
The CTE department (with the guidance and assistance of an advisory council made up of practicing CTE teachers and administrators) reconceptualized its preservice teacher education program. Skills and abilities described by the Georgia Framework ( GADOE, 2003 .) were integrated into the structure, delivery, and evaluation of students‘ educational experiences in six preservice CTE courses: (a) early practicum I, (b) practicum II, (c) foundations of CTE, (d) curriculum development in CTE, (e) instructional strategies in CTE, and (f) student teaching. A summary of the CTE project accomplishments since its inception in 2001 are identified below:
- Development of a sustained and active advisory council that partnered university CTE faculty with public school CTE administrators and teachers.
- Alignment of CTE preservice education courses with INTASC, NBTS, Georgia Framework, and area specific Praxis and state administered teacher examinations.
- Redesign of CTE preservice education courses around the Georgia Framework.
- Development and maintenance of a mentor/supervising CTE teacher database.
- Extensive review, evaluation, and revision of comprehensive beginning and advanced experiential activities and experiences for CTE preservice teachers.
- Development and use of an online CTE preservice practicum and student teacher handbook and guide designed for student teachers, university supervisors, and cooperating teachers (see: http://www.coe.uga.edu/welsf/wfed/students/handbook/intro.html)
- Use of an online discussion board to solicit and encourage weekly communication and reflection (guided by the Georgia Framework) among CTE preservice teachers.
- Development and use of classroom video tapping activities providing opportunities for feedback, reflection, and improvement of CTE preservice teacher performance.
- Development and use of an early clinical/practicum activities/experiences portfolio structured around the Georgia Framework.
- Development and use of CTE professional portfolio structured around the Georgia Framework.
- Development and delivery of a preservice CTE teacher conference and monthly seminars for practicum students and student teachers.
- Development and delivery of cooperating teacher seminars and workshops.
- Organization and delivery of a Beginning CTE Teachers Panel held annually during a regional conference.
Reports on education that surfaced in the 1980s and recent teacher preparation reform efforts have encouraged researchers to examine what is meant by effective teaching. ‗Effective teaching,‘ as a concept provides direction for the overall educational process and is frequently discussed in research literature on teaching and learning ( Biggs, Hinton, & Duncan, 1996 ; Council of Chief State School Officers, n.d ; Carnegie Task Force on Teaching as a Profession, 1986 ; GSTEP, n.d. ; Gregson, 1993 ; Griggs & Burnham, 1988 ; Holmes Group, 1986 ; Lynch, 1996 ; Lynch, 1997 ; Milanovich, 1986 ; Naylor, 1997 ; NBPTS, 2001 ; and USDOE, 2004 ). Several questions are often pondered: (a) what is effective (accomplished) teaching; (b) what do effective (accomplished) teachers know; and (c) what should effective (accomplished) teachers be able to accomplish? The movement, to identify and clarify effective or accomplished teaching has led to national and state standards for accomplished teaching.
Leading education professionals, such a Hunter (1994) and Danielson (1996) have developed models and frameworks to identify the knowledge, skills, behaviors, and dispositions of effective teachers. According to Danielson, "A framework for professional practice offers the profession a means of communicating about excellence." Danielson also asserted that, "A uniform framework allows those conversations to guide novices as well as to enhance the performance of veterans" (p. 6). Understanding what is expected of an effective teacher (i.e. what teachers are expected to do and how they are expected to perform in their classrooms) has the potential "for affecting and effecting students‘ achievement" (Hunter, p.6). In teacher education, frameworks have successfully described the professional teacher‘s responsibilities, promoted preservice teacher learning, and have been documented through empirical studies and theoretical research (Danielson).
Frameworks, like the one posed by the Georgia Framework for Accomplished Teaching, can be used to establish a common language among professionals, structure expert-type definitions, and certification procedures for novice and advanced practitioners ( Danielson, 1996 ; Iverson, Lewis, & Talbot, 2008 ). In this study, the Georgia Framework for Accomplished ( GADOE, 2003 ) teaching is used to explore how accomplished or effective CTE preservice teachers feel following their capstone student teaching block. In literature published by GSTEP (n.d.) and NBPTS (2001) , 'effective teaching' has been replaced by 'accomplished teaching.'
The purpose of this qualitative study was to discover how preservice teachers in career and technical education conceptualize their preservice teacher education experience and preparation after completing their professional core of courses and student teaching. The Georgia Framework for Accomplished Teaching ( GADOE, 2003 ) was used as the impetus to guide and focus students' thinking and reflective thought regarding six broad categories of accomplished or effective teaching: (a) content and curriculum, (b) knowledge of students and their learning, (c) learning environments, (d) assessment, (e) planning and instruction, and (f) professionalism. This type of qualitative introspection and examination uncovered both strengths and weaknesses present in the CTE preservice teacher education program. Qualitative insight into preservice teachers' reflections regarding how accomplished or effective they believed they were when examining their own teaching related skills and abilities will be instrumental in aiding teacher educators in developing and structuring teacher education programs that best fit the needs of today's CTE teachers. It will guide teacher educators in their efforts to create necessary reforms in CTE teacher preparation.
The questions addressed by this qualitative study sought to discover how accomplished or effective preservice teachers felt regarding their teaching skills and abilities following their professional core of courses and student teaching experience. This study attempted to answer two questions:
- Are preservice CTE teachers prepared to become accomplished teachers?
- Is the Georgia Framework for Accomplished Teaching an appropriate model to use when preparing CTE teachers?
Since 2001, through active participation in the GSTEP initiative, the preservice teacher education program in the researcher's institution has been extensively revised to provide for a more contextual teaching and learning approach to preparation. This type of preservice model offered opportunities for experiential leaning and reflective practice. It integrated theory and practice with application and provided preservice CTE teachers with the capacity to use what they had learned. During the process, an advisory council consisting of university faculty, secondary career and technical education faculty, and administrators conducted a comprehensive reonceptualization and redevelopment of the program's preservice model of CTE teacher preparation.
This study analyzed reflections from 60 of 67 student teachers who returned their Georgia Framework for Accomplished Teaching reflections from the fall 2004 and spring 2005 semesters. These students were the first groups to complete their entire preservice CTE teacher preparation under the Georgia initiative and transformations. They were active participants in the accomplishments previously listed. The reflections included students' perceptions of how well the teacher education program had prepared them for their student teaching experience. Reflections focused on the six categories of accomplished teaching described by the GSTEP Framework (see Table 1). Students were provided written and oral directions regarding the completion of their reflections. Additional clarifications, when requested, were handled on an individual student basis either orally or through email communications.
The research method was used to examine student teacher‘s reflections as a path to understanding how student teachers incorporated classroom theory into their student teaching practice. This is consistent with Haman's view that "reflective teaching is a desired goal of many teacher education programs ( 2002 , p. 3) and with Smyth's (1989) general definition of reflection as an active rather than contemplative form of reflective practice that is useful in teacher education. Baker and Shahid (2003, p.2) also noted that "reflections can be the catalyst that enables students to synthesize new understandings from the collision of theory and real-life events in classrooms." Chitpin, Simon, and Galipeau (2008) noted that employing reflective practices can contribute to the overall professional development of preservice teachers.
A computer aided qualitative data analysis software program, NVivo was used as a cognitive tool for managing, coding, and comparing data across the 60 document sets. The use of qualitative data analysis software (QDA) has increased, especially with larger sets of data, as researchers find that data can be managed more effectively and that emerging themes can be discovered and compared creatively across larger data sets with relative ease ( Gilbert, 2000 ). Following the computer coding of the data, students' quotes were manually evaluated and categorized into one of the six broad Framework areas. CTE advisory council members grouped quotes individually and then collectively. Quotes were grouped according to various themes that emerged within the data.
As students‘ reflective documents were coded, advisory council participants discussed emerging themes and categories. Findings were grouped within the six reflection categories and are listed in tables 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. Corresponding samples of the reflective statements posed by participants also are included in these tables. Examination of the student teacher reflections revealed both connections and disconnections between university coursework and classroom teaching experiences, as well as insight into how these student teachers understood their beginning classroom experiences. Relationships between the categories and themes that evolved during further analysis are included in the discussion section.
|Theme 1||Preservice teacher education courses were valuable in preparing students to teach.|
|I believe that the majority of classes I have taken have been geared towards teaching me content and curriculum…my student teaching has deepened my content knowledge...that is, I have learned more about the programs I have been teaching by teaching them to the students.|
|Theme 2||Students were able to apply knowledge and skills to classroom teaching.|
|Actually teaching lessons has made me more knowledgeable of content and curriculum in my area, and the more lessons I teach the more familiar I will get with the material.|
|Theme 3||Content courses provided students with the knowledge they needed to prepare and deliver their lessons effectively.|
|My university is where I learned to be an effective teacher. The courses there honed my skills and have taught me how to teach others how to perform certain tasks.|
|Theme 4||Preservice teacher preparation gave students the skills and abilities to remain current in their subject areas.|
|I have really seen the importance of staying current in my subject area.|
|Theme 5||Students successfully related content and curriculum to real live situations.|
|I am very glad that one of my teachers stressed the importance of relating the subject material to real life situations. During my student teaching experience, I came to realize just how much of a difference that can make in student interest.|
|Theme 1||Students were prepared to maintain high expectations for all their students.|
|First and foremost, I believe as a teacher that all my students are capable of learning at high levels and it is my job to hold high expectations for each individual.|
|Theme 2||Teaching was enhanced because preservice teachers took time to learn about their students, their environments, and their abilities.|
|One way I tried to get to know my students and find out how they learned and process information was to just talk to them. When I wasn’t lecturing and the students were working on activities and projects, when I would walk around the room, I would take opportunities to ask students what they liked and disliked about an assignment. What works for them? How can things be changed to make them learn better. I think this method of constantly asking students how they learn helps a teacher construct their lesson plans to student knowledge and learning.|
|Theme 3||Student teachers came to the realization that all students are different and must be taught according to their unique needs and abilities.|
|Adapting to students different abilities is more difficult in practice than it is in theory. I feel like I was well prepared to come up with ideas to adapt to different learners, but finding the time to implement them in the classroom was very difficult. Also, figuring out what kind of learner each student was took some time. I wish there was a way to do this easily.|
|Theme 4||Preservice teachers experienced the importance and relevance of infusing instructional variety into their teaching.|
|My education classes as well as my practicum experiences have prepared me for teaching diverse learners and adapting my curriculum for those learners.|
|Theme 5||Teaching was more effective when student teachers established positive relationships students and parents.|
|I made a point to see my students outside of the classroom. By involving myself in students’ activities outside of the classroom, I think I was able to show my students that I was truly interested in them.|
|Theme 1||Students lacked confidence, knowledge, and social skills regarding the teaching of diverse groups.|
|I think that diverse learners should be addressed more in the courses. Also, there should be more Special Needs courses offered within the education major. I did not feel adequately prepared for this area, but teaching diverse learning styles is something that a teacher is always learning and changing to accommodate.|
|Theme 2||Student teachers discovered that using a variety of teaching activities helped them in reaching diverse learners.|
|I learned that certain individuals learn by seeing, others by hearing, and some by doing. To be an effective teacher I learned that I should have various lesson formats and plans to meet the needs of all these different learners.|
|Theme 3||Preservice teachers experienced difficulty transforming theory into practice when dealing with learning environments.|
|This is one area where I believe that my program is lacking. While the methods class helped, it was only for two weeks. It would be nice for other classes to have allotted time for this, because I don’t think I was totally prepared for my student teaching’s learning environment.|
|Theme 1||Student teachers understood and experienced the importance of planning and preparation to effective teaching.|
|The importance of planning was made clear during my student teaching, and I was thankful that lesson plans were taught to me extremely well. My program did a really good job providing me with tons of resources to pull from as well as where to look for new ones.|
|Theme 2||Students felt well prepared to plan their instruction and develop their lesson plans.|
|If there is one thing I can do, it is plan. I feel like I can make lesson plans in my sleep. This one is completely covered. I can make lesson plans. I can follow curriculum. I can use various instructional strategies. I can change my plans if they don’t seem to be getting across what I planned.|
|Theme 1||Students did not feel proficient in constructing assessment instruments.|
|I don’t think my classes prepared me for assessing students. I felt lost in this area when I started student teaching. I learned about a lot of different types of assessment in the Methods and Curriculum class but did not really know how to use them.|
|Theme 2||Student teachers understood the importance of administering different type of assessments.|
|Assessment is another strong suite for our program. I have learned a variety of ways to assess assignments, as well as how important it is to inform a student upfront what he or she is responsible for turning in. By providing a student with this information before hand you give them the responsibility to full fill the requirements and limit the amount of excuses and problems and grading the work in the end.|
|Theme 3||Preservice teachers found it difficult to manage an equitable grading structure for different types of students.|
|Another difficulty that I faced in student teaching was equitable grading. My special needs courses taught me that I would have to adapt grading for my special needs students. But what happens when you have normal students that are just slower or are hindered by language.|
|Theme 1||Preservice teachers understood the importance of continual reflection, growth, and flexibility regarding effective teaching.|
|As I have student taught, one of my strengths have been to monitor and adjust instructional strategies in response to learner feedback. I do this through daily reflection. I believe that reflection is the key to becoming an effective and progressive educator. You get better with practice and experience. I have gotten some practice under my belt, so now its time to get a job and get some experience.|
|Theme 2||Student teachers experienced the magnitude of their own classroom behaviors.|
|I have found that professional conduct involves everything that I say and do both in front of students and out of their sight. I never realized that my students would take note of almost every little thing that I wore, did, and said. I also found that my students liked to talk. Many times students in one class would come in and make a comment or bring up something that I had said or done in another class.|
|Theme 3||Students felt confident as a member of the teaching as a profession|
|The student teaching block has given me a wonderful forum to practice my skills. With every class I taught and every week that passed, my confidence as a teacher continued to grow which helped myself and the students. As a beginning teacher, often times I did not teach effectively. Sometimes I would forget to tell the students something and other times I would give a wrong answer, but as my confidence grew my fear of failure dissipated. This was a huge breakthrough in building me up to be an effective teacher.|
Conclusions and Discussion
GSTEP permitted the CTE teacher educators involved in this project with opportunities to reconceptualize, restructure, and reform their teacher preparation program. The Georgia Framework for Accomplished Teaching provided the model for a comprehensive qualitative study. This study gave CTE teacher educators opportunities to examine the strengths and weaknesses associated with the infusion of the Georgia principles, framework, and indicators into the CTE teacher preparation program. Activities of this project provided experiences and data which will be useful in preparing CTE teachers, who as beginning teachers, will do a "better job in assessing student's capabilities, diagnosing their learning styles, prescribing a curriculum and adjusting teaching practice to reflect the latest research" (Hinds, 2002). Based on the findings from this qualitative study, CTE student teachers were indeed prepared for their student teaching experience and believed that they performed as accomplished teachers. Using the Georgia Framework for Accomplished Teaching to prepare beginning teachers was found to be appropriate and effective for this group of student teachers. Students felt most prepared or accomplished in four of the six GSTEP Framework categories: (a) curriculum and content, (b) knowledge of students and their learning, (c) planning and instruction, and (d) professionalism. The remaining two categories, learning environments and assessment were categories where student teachers felt less accomplished or prepared to handle in real world situations.
Analysis of student teachers' reflections revealed that while confidence in their teaching ability was high in the areas of content and curriculum, knowledge of students and their learning, planning and instruction, and professionalism, some expressed concern for their preparation to manage the learning environments and to construct effective assessments. While eager and determined to succeed in their student teaching experience, some student teachers expressed that they felt unequipped to manage the learning environments for some diverse student groups effectively. This concern was joined with requests that the program add undergraduate CTE courses in assessment and specific training for classroom management, especially for very diverse populations. While the CTE preservice graduate program does require assessment and diversity as stand alone courses, these are not addressed as individual courses in the CTE preservice undergraduate program. Therefore, student teachers who were graduate students felt more prepared or accomplished in these two categories. A majority of the reflections expressing inadequate preparation in these two categories were from the undergraduate participants.
Undergraduates in CTE teacher preparation are required to take a special needs course. However, that course does not specifically target diverse cultural groups. Preservice CTE undergraduate students do not take a separate course that deals specifically with diversity related issues. Preservice CTE graduate students are required to take a course that deals only with diversity. Preservice CTE undergraduate student teachers who expressed concern in managing learning environments for diverse groups had encountered a diversity of students from socio-economic and racial groups with whom they appear to have had little experience, either in social or school settings.
The majority of the student teachers' reflections revealed a growing confidence in their abilities to exhibit skills associated with accomplished teaching and to make decisions for their classrooms. Collier proposed that 'reflection is widely considered an important, if not primary, means through which preservice teachers can become effective decision makers" ( 1997 , p. 3). The student teachers in this study appear to value their reflection processes as beneficial for their growing ability to make productive choices as new teachers. Similarly, reflection also serves as a method for self evaluation for new teachers about their decision making and accepting the responsibility for those selections ( Goodman, 1984 ; Ross, 1989 ; Zeichner and Liston, 1987 ; and Galvez-Martin and Bowman, 1998 ). The student teachers in this study appeared to demonstrate their ability to reflect on their strengths as well as to discern areas that will require additional resources and practice.
In reviewing the data and findings with the advisory council, the strengths and weaknesses of the reconceptualized teacher preparation program in career and technical education were identified. Based on these findings, the following recommendations are made:
- Teacher educators should consider using the Georgia Framework for Accomplished Teaching as a basis for preparing teachers.
- Courses and teacher preparation programs need more emphases placed on teaching diverse learners.
- Courses and teacher preparation programs need more emphases placed on developing effective assessments.
- Preservice teachers should be encouraged to regularly reflect on their preservice teacher preparation and experiences.
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