USAO education department transitions to innovative co-teaching approach
After two years of exhaustive research and collaboration, the teacher education program at the University of Science and Arts is launching a new approach to teacher preparation called co-teaching.
In co-teaching, teachers and prospective teachers will be teamed as two trained adults collaborating, planning and teaching with one focus in mind – increased student learning.
Under the new program, USAO teacher candidates will be paired with specially trained teachers to maximize the effectiveness for both teacher candidate and student learning.
This approach, which replaces the traditional student-teaching model, was born out of a series of meetings and workshops that gathered the best thinking on improving teacher education from faculty, teacher candidates, public school teachers and administrators, parents and representatives from the business community.
The process began in 2011 with a series of task force meetings — known as ThinkTank — focused on making improvements to the clinical portion of teacher education that places teacher candidates in authentic school settings.
In 2012, the Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation hosted a half-day Clinical Alliance meeting on the USAO campus where faculty met with Oklahoma City Public Schools officials to discuss their findings. Based on those discussions, the commission invited representatives from St. Cloud University in Minnesota to make a presentation on co-teaching as a model for student teaching.
Dr. Nancy Hector, associate professor of education and coordinator of field-based experiences at USAO, met with the St. Cloud representatives and affirmed that many of the objectives laid out by the ThinkTank participants could be achieved by adopting this new model.
“I was impressed at the quality of St. Cloud’s data showing that student performance is enhanced by having co-teachers instead of student teachers,” Hector said. “It also reveals that the teacher candidates and cooperating teachers benefit so there are no losers with this approach.”
Upon her return, the research was shared with teacher candidates, teacher educators and stakeholders in the public schools and was met with broad support. After an in-depth consideration of this new approach at USAO’s 2012 Fall Work/Learning Day, the university’s teacher education department voted to proceed launching the project in the fall of 2013.
In preparation for this shift in approach, training began in spring 2013 for classroom teachers, university faculty and teacher candidates.
More information about USAO’s teacher education program can be obtained by calling department chairwoman Vicki Ferguson at 574-1253.