USAO Conducts Task Force on Teacher Prep

A task force more than a year in planning was convened to dream the clinical preparation of tomorrow’s teachers at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (USAO).


The summer 2011 initiative, coordinated by the teacher education faculty unit, gathered interested persons to generate useful, imaginative ideas regarding the preparation of the “ideal first-year teacher.”


More than 30 contributors from seven different perspectives gathered – both physically and electronically -- to brainstorm important experiences that mold effective teachers.  Urban, suburban, and rural areas were represented; one participant drove from Missouri three times.  Parents, community leaders, school administrators, teachers, teacher candidates, parents, and teacher educators participated in heterogeneous and homogeneous groups to: discuss characteristics of an ideal first year teacher, what experiences could precede this ideal teacher’s “first day,” ways to make it happen,  and obstacles/constraints to the vision.  


The group became a “think tank” generating, organizing, and reviewing practical, impractical, and innovative possibilities.  


Assisted by some virtual problem solving software the process culminated with individual voting and comments on the 27 ideas that crystallized from the sessions.  The professor who developed the technology aspect of the project, himself the parent of a young child, adapted the software he has used in other venues to assist with the think tank process.  


Dr. Vicki Ferguson, Director of Teacher Education, along with Dr. Nancy Hector, Coordinator of Field-Based Experiences, initiated the project with no preconception of the outcomes.  The outcomes of each session determined the direction of the next session.  Keeping up with the fast-paced progression was enjoyable, challenging, and not without surprises.   The generation of ideas was exciting and thought provoking .  The collaborative effort has already initialized a stronger partnership relationship with many schools.  The final tabulation of the Task Force recommendations were submitted to USAO’s Teacher Education Committee for its long-term planning activities.  Consideration and possible implementation of any or all of the recommendations will be ongoing from that point.