Think back to the first time you entered a classroom responsible for teaching a small group of students with a lesson you had designed. Remember how excited (or nervous!) you were the day your student teaching assignment began? You brought new ideas and methods, anxious to step into the role of teacher you had longed to begin.
But did you ever think about the “backstory” — the effort required by those in charge of your preparation to find you an appropriate PK-12 school placement? Did you wonder if your cooperating teacher was selected because she was an expert teacher and mentor who would welcome your participation? Did you wonder if she and others at the school would support your use of technology for teaching and learning?
Fast forward to today, especially with the increased emphasis on hybrid, online and remote learning in PK-12 schools. Teacher preparation programs face challenges in the arrangement of clinical placements for teacher preparation candidates, including whether and how PK-12 schools will support and mentor candidates’ use of technology for teaching and learning. Over the years, we have learned that some school districts are reluctant to accept teacher candidates due to the "extra work" involved.
Without the cooperation and participation of PK-12 educators who accept and support teacher candidates in their school settings, partnerships for clinical practice cannot exist, let alone thrive. ISTE members knowledgeable about the best uses of technology for teaching and learning can serve as wonderful role models and mentors for teacher candidates!
But what’s the best way to work together in a mutually beneficial school-university partnership for technology-infused teacher preparation?
Teacher preparation programs with technology-rich field experience partnerships provide opportunities for connecting college course content to the growth and development of teacher candidates’ practice in PK-12 schools. Technology infusion is a model for addressing the use of technology for teaching and learning that spans the breadth of a preparation program and is especially important during clinical experiences (Borthwick, Foulger, & Graziano, 2020).
PK-12 and teacher educators each have a role to play in clinically centered teacher preparation. Examples of these roles are outlined in the four action steps below recommended by Debra Sprague, Seth Parsons and Audra Parker, faculty at George Mason University (GMU).
Establish mutually beneficial partnerships that value the expertise
of school-based teacher educators. Exploring how both university and school-based teacher educators can contribute to the shared vision of teacher preparation and teacher professional development is key.
2. Professional development for faculty and mentors
Collaborate with colleagues to purposefully plan for and support technology infusion. By creating a road map for how technology infusion will be scaffolded across a program, faculty can work together to identify areas of need and capitalize on areas of expertise. These efforts should include school-based teacher educators.
3. Partnerships for program design
Engage school-based teacher educators in program design and revision. For example, GMU’s Elementary Education Professional Development School Program invited school-based technology specialists to provide feedback on technology experiences because the expert voices of school-based teacher educators were needed to inform the program’s technology education efforts. More broadly, school-based teacher educators serve on the program’s advisory board, in leading the advanced mentor training, and in leadership roles such as site facilitation.
4. Leverage PK-12 classroom-based technology
Integrate the tools that are commonly available in partner school sites into coursework experiences and clinical work.
“Engaged stakeholders who contribute to a shared mission of teacher preparation and who claim the importance of field experience in technology-infused programs realize that professional development, new ideas, experimentation, and risk-taking need to be accepted norms” (Sprague, Parsons, & Parker, 2020, p. 145). When technology has a presence throughout preparation programs, and stakeholders commit to an infused approach, teacher candidates are more likely to enter the classroom confident in their ability to infuse technology across the curriculum.
Both PK-12 and college educators are essential stakeholders in teacher preparation. PK12 tech coordinators, librarians, administrators and mentor/cooperating teachers can all play a role in partnering with higher education in the effective preparation of teacher candidates. We hope you will find yourself involved in one or more of the action steps for supporting clinically-centered teacher preparation!
Borthwick, A. C., Foulger, T. S., & Graziano, K. J. (Eds.). (2020). Championing Technology Infusion in Teacher Preparation: A Framework for Supporting Future Educators. Portland, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.
Sprague, D.R., Parsons, S.A., Parker, A.K., (2020). Technology Infusion in Clinical Experiences. In A.C. Borthwick, T. S. Foulger, & K. J. Graziano (Eds.), Championing Technology Infusion in Teacher Preparation: A Framework for Supporting Future Educators (pp. 131-148). Portland, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.
Arlene C. Borthwick is professor emeritus, National College of Education, National Louis University in Chicago, where she served as associate dean from 2010-18. She has served as the chair of the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education’s Committee on Innovation and Technology, member of the ISTE Board of Directors, and past president of ISTE’s SIG (PLN) for Teacher Educators. She received the ISTE Making IT Happen award in 2008. Contact her at email@example.com.
Teresa S. Foulger is an associate professor of educational technology and program coordinator for educational studies in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. Teresa has served as the president of the Teacher Education Network for the International Society for Technology in Education and serves as the co-chair of the TPACK Special Interest Group for the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education. She is co-author of the Teacher Educator Technology Competencies (TETCs) (2017). Contact her at Teresa.Foulger@asu.edu.
Kevin J. Graziano is a professor of teacher education in the School of Education at Nevada State College. He is the chair of the Consultative Council for the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE), the former chair of AACTE’s Committee on Innovation and Technology, and the former co-chair of the SITE’s mobile learning SIG. He is co-author of the Teacher Educator Technology Competencies (TETCs) (2017). Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.