Journal Article Review edited Research Journal Journal Article Review Pamela Nolan EDU Kathryn Ackerman EDU 713...
Article Review
Pamela Nolan
EDU 713
Oct. 13, 2010
Reference
Gardiner, W. & Robinson, K. S. (200). Paired field placement: A means for collaboration. The New Educator 5, 81-94.
Introduction
Collaboration is essential in high student performance, in the lower grade classrooms as well as the upper leveled learning environments. This is no different from the preservice teacher about to embark on the journey of field placement where they will assist the teacher in implementation of activities, writing lesson plans, and teaching the required curriculum in their first classroom experience. It is essential that the preservice teacher learn to collaborate through current political, social, economic, and other various factors to effectively maximize learning opportunities for each and every student. Many field placements in teacher preparation programs typically follow the pattern of placing one preservice teacher with one cooperating teacher. In this particular research study, the preservice teachers were given their choice of single placement with a cooperating teacher, or being placed with another curriculum methods student together with the cooperating teacher. The purpose of the study was to find out if the paired preservice teachers would collaborate, and if so, how much, why, and in what ways.
The Project
The participants were in their Junior year and enrolled in an Early Childhood Curriculum Methods course in a Midwestern liberal arts college. Each student t was a white female from both rural and suburban backgrounds. Each preservice teacher was placed in one of two K-6 schools that were not meeting the No Child Left behind (NCLB) guidelines for adequate yearly progress. The teachers at these at schools were required to employ district wide scripted curricula. The cooperating teachers were given a choice of one preservice teacher or a pair of preservice teachers. In the end, there were four peer placements and two single placements.
Method
Data for this study was collected through observations, journal entries, surveys, student work samples, field notes, and individual interviews with the preservice teachers. Teacher observations were conducted biweekly for 20 weeks and lasted 30-60 minutes each. Interviews were conducted at the end of the quarter.
Results
The data showed that two different types of significant forms of collaboration supported the professional development of the preservice teacher. It was found that these paired teachers engaged in meaningful conversations and evaluations of their teaching and learning with each other than with their cooperating teacher. Five out of eight of these preservice teachers stated that their own collaborative skills were more effectively sharpened and built. Secondly, six of these preservice teachers testified that the presence of another peer during their lesson made them feel more secure when taking risks and more comfortable. Two of the preservice teachers were concerned that having another there would create a crutch and hinder their readiness for student teaching.
Discussion, Implication, and Recommendations
The overall findings did show that the reciprocal interactions of the paired preservice teachers allowed them to share ideas, observes each other, problem solve, support one another, and overall contribute to each one’s professional development in a positive and productive manner. The researchers advocate the continued use of pairing in-service teachers together with one cooperating teacher. However, the researchers believe that the preservice teachers need to first be trained on how to be expert collaborators and operate more effectively with a collaborative partner. All agreed that more research needs to continue in the benefits of peer placements.
My Thoughts
As a cooperating teacher, having had several student teachers in my career, I would strongly agree with the practice of pairing preservice teachers in the classroom for student teaching. Collaboration is essential in any school environment and classroom. This is a skill that must be practiced in order for one to become an effective collaborator. This is not a skill that can be merely read about and instructed on in the preservice classroom. In today’s schools, with all of the academic expectations and societal issues, communication, elaboration, and teaming are of the upmost importance. As a member of a school and grade level team, collaboration is the very core of what promotes success and a positive working environment. As a first year teacher, there are so many new things to learn. If the preservice teacher has had authentic practice and genuine support in a collaborative environment during student teaching, they will be at a huge advantage when entering their own school environment. As the researchers stated, “Given the norms of autonomy that promote the “sink or swim” mentalities, it is also essential to reframe teaching as a developmental process that is aided, not encumbered, by engaging in collaboration” (Garnder and Robinson, 2009 pg.93).
Connections to Course Material
Friend and Cook (2007) are continually outlining and emphasizing the importance of team interaction. They discuss grade level teams, multidisciplinary teams, disciplinary teams, IEP teams, student support teams, and a variety of others that are involved in many schools across the country. Over and over, they echo the importance of collaboration and collaborative practices within all of those teams. Collaboration is a necessary skill which must be refined and practiced daily in any teacher’s classroom and school. Effective collaboration is a process that takes much practice and many experiences to achieve. Collaboration has many different aspects. In order for collaboration to effectively occur, the participants must understand the “rules” and expectations needed for collaboration to occur. These include, but are not limited to, shared pools of meaning, frames of reference, problem solving processes, verbal and nonverbal communication, effective questioning, and respect. This is a tall order for any professional or person in any situation, career, or high stake conversation. Effective collaboration is a process that takes much practice and many experiences to achieve. It makes much more sense to assist the preservice teacher, in the beginning of her/his career, in this process. When the preservice teacher enters the “real” classroom or school, they will be ahead of the game and better prepared to be a productive team member, teacher, and collaborative partner.