by Claire Miller
In his work at the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future (NCTAF), Thomas Carroll has started to see a shift in the way teachers think about delivering content to their students – one that he believes Georgia State University’s College of Education is embracing in its teacher preparation programs.
Rather than preparing teachers for a career that finds them in classrooms isolated from other teachers, Carroll, executive director of NCTAF, said that educational leaders in the U.S. are considering a system with more collaboration among teachers in the field.
“There’s a national dialogue about how to improve education in this country and in the last two years, we’ve seen a lot of movement toward what we’re calling a professional learning community,” Carroll told COE students, faculty and staff at the Oct. 5 Research Wednesdays. “We need to move from a profession in which teachers teach alone to a profession in which teachers have a professional community that allows them to reflect on their teaching and learn from each other’s best practices. And you’re doing a lot of that work here at Georgia State with your teacher residencies.”
The teacher residency component of the COE’s Network for Enhancing Teacher Quality (NET-Q) project places students in area schools to get hands-on experience and to learn how to confront issues and challenges. Unlike a student teaching experience where students are only in the classroom for several weeks, students in teacher residencies spend a full academic year in the classroom, learning the ins and outs of teaching, and receive a living wage stipend.
Residents work with teachers and administrators in their assigned schools and in doing so, they have the kind of support system that Carroll believes is critical to decreasing attrition rates for novice teachers and building a collaborative working environment.
Carroll hopes to see schools take this a step further and embrace a team-teaching approach, where teachers from different academic disciplines work side-by-side to teach content to students.
“We need to move from learning communities to what we call ‘learning teams,’ or true collaborative learning environments in which multiple teachers work together in teams with multiple areas of expertise on a sustained basis,” he said. “They will be more effective as teachers if they work together to have common, project-based learning modules that they work together to deliver to their students.”
The Research Wednesdays Speaker Series is designed to fulfill three goals: to provide a platform for explorations of new ways of conducting and disseminating educational research, to discuss new methods of mentoring doctoral students in an effort to enhance their development as researchers, and to fill a professional development need by providing access to cutting edge researchers at the state and national levels.
For more information about Carroll and the Research Wednesdays Speaker Series, visit http://education.gsu.edu/main/coe_events.htm.