Good Teaching and Learning Is Focus of GSE Partnerships

Posted: March 14, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Sharon Taylor

The Graduate School of Education (GSE) created the Professional Development School (PDS) partnership to support community schools, while providing a qualitative preservice teaching environment for graduate students. Fourteen years later, GSE can boast the best possible outcome from the partnership: everybody wins.

PDS is the ultimate on-the-job training opportunity and provides semester and full-year internships for preservice teachers, primarily in elementary schools. During internships, preservice teachers are matched with a partner-school faculty mentor and are involved in co-teaching, co-planning, and independent and substitute teaching. Ninety-nine percent of preservice teachers are hired by the school systems where they do internships.

GSE works closely with schools in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William Counties to ensure a productive experience for teachers, administrators, and students. Each school is assigned a university faculty member who supervises up to six full-time preservice teachers in each school. Additionally, Mason provides partner school faculty with a three-credit training course to prepare them for the teacher-mentor relationship they will develop with preservice teachers.

“We’re in the third year of a ‘second generation’ of the program,” says Paula Johnson, GSE’s program coordinator of field relations. “The program needed to be redesigned to meet changes in the state mandates for licensure of teachers.” To incorporate the changes into the program, Mason hosted an orientation session for 16 schools that applied to participate under the adjusted model. To qualify, in addition to a commitment from administration and faculty, schools needed to have 650 students, be economically and ethnically diverse, have integrated technology into teaching, and have an interest in research to improve ways of teaching and learning.

The original model for PDS provides some insight into its success. It is one in which collaboration between schools, GSE, school districts, and union and professional education associations defines the program. Partners share responsibility for preparation of teachers, development of school and university faculty, and for support of children’s learning. Also, partners’ sharing an interest in research directed to the improvement of teaching and learning skills contributes to advancement in education instruction that ultimately strengthens teachers and schools.

For more information, contact Paula Johnson at (703) 993-2081.

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