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Preparation of elementary teachers.

Preface

The nature and quality of children's education are extremely important to their futures as well as to the future of our world. Elementary teachers must be prepared with the knowledge, skills, values and techniques to interact successfully with children, parents, guardians, colleagues, administrators, social agencies and others who affect children's lives. Teachers must adapt to the interests, learning styles and needs of individual children in a complex, rapidly changing and culturally diverse society. Teaching is a changing process for which elementary teachers must be prepared.

Qualified teachers must be recognized as professionals in their field. The qualified elementary education teacher should be a graduate of an accredited teacher preparation program or be certified through an accredited alternate program that requires a bachelor's degree in addition to professional study.

Teacher Preparation Requirements

To teach successfully at the elementary level, preservice teachers need to have knowledge of the general curriculum taught at this level, as well as a strong foundation in education psychology and child development. They must also have opportunities to examine and implement good teaching/learning practices through professional clinical and field experiences. Thus, teacher preparation programs should include the following areas:

General Education

Teacher preparation programs must have a broad foundation in many academic areas, with advanced study in at least one specialty area, in order to be able to optimally expand children's abilities to grow and develop in all areas. Preparation experiences, therefore, should develop in preservice elementary teachers:

* The ability to comprehend, analyze, synthesize and evaluate a wide range of published materials

* The ability to communicate with people from diverse backgrounds, both orally and in writing

* The ability to reflect on information and experience

* A knowledge of and appreciation for literature

* An understanding of how positive health behaviors affect the quality of life

* An understanding of and confidence in their own ability to perform mathematical skills

* An understanding of life, physical and earth sciences

* An awareness of social and political forces that affect people's lives

* An understanding of and appreciation for similarities and differences among societies and cultural groups

* A knowledge of and appreciation for the visual and performing arts

* An understanding of and skill in using technology/media.

Elementary Education Foundations

Teacher preparation programs should design experiences that help preservice elementary teachers understand the historical, philosophical, psychological, cultural and social foundations of elementary education. This preparation should enable preservice teachers to develop their own philosophy, techniques and approaches to the teaching/learning process that are consistent with acceptable education theories and practices. Preparation experiences for preservice teachers should include opportunities to observe and interact in dynamic programs in a variety of school settings.

Child Development

Teacher preparation programs should be firmly grounded in principles of child development. Through experiences with children of different ages, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and exceptionalities, preservice elementary teachers should learn how to provide optimal learning experiences that will help children grow intellectually, emotionally, socially, physically and creatively.

The Learning/Teaching Process

Preservice elementary teachers should be familiar with current research findings on the teaching/learning process and be able to apply these findings in the classroom. They should realize that knowledge evolves and that they need to keep abreast of changing theories and practices. They must also understand that, as reflective practitioners, they have a responsibility to study, use and identify a variety of developmentally appropriate activities that demonstrate different approaches to knowledge construction and application in all disciplines taught at the elementary level.

Curriculum and Methodology

Preservice elementary teachers must be generalists, with study and experiences in all areas of the curriculum. They should be prepared to organize and implement a variety of proven methods of instruction in language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, health, physical education, and the visual and performing arts. Preparation programs should also expose preservice teachers to the role of the profession within the dynamics of curriculum change and improvement.

Clinical/Field Experiences

Teacher preparation programs for preservice elementary teachers should provide carefully administered, sequenced and supervised clinical/field experiences in all areas that an elementary teacher would be expected to teach. Preservice teachers should have gradually increased responsibilities in the classroom. They should be provided with opportunities to work with children at different grade levels, with varying backgrounds and capabilities, and in activities that link course content to practice. They should be allowed to critically select and use appropriate materials, resources and technology and to have experiences with classroom management and a variety of evaluation techniques. Collaboration with other teachers should be encouraged in order to develop team building skills. Opportunities to be coached and to coach should be provided.

Throughout the program, preservice elementary teachers need opportunities to reflectively analyze their own practice, as well as receive direct input from university personnel and practitioners. By the end of the program, they will have begun to develop a philosophy of teaching that will continue to evolve as they acquire new knowledge and experiences.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Association for Childhood Education International
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Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Partridge, Elizabeth
Publication:Childhood Education
Date:Sep 22, 1993
Words:819
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