Doing Reflective Supervision with Student Teachers in a Professional Development School Culture

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  • This article was downloaded by: [University of Connecticut]On: 31 August 2013, At: 03:39Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T3JH, UK

    Reflective Practice:International andMultidisciplinary PerspectivesPublication details, including instructions forauthors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/crep20

    Doing Reflective Supervisionwith Student Teachers in aProfessional DevelopmentSchool CultureEileen Mary Weiss & Stephen WeissPublished online: 18 Aug 2010.

    To cite this article: Eileen Mary Weiss & Stephen Weiss (2001) Doing ReflectiveSupervision with Student Teachers in a Professional Development School Culture,Reflective Practice: International and Multidisciplinary Perspectives, 2:2, 125-154,DOI: 10.1080/14623940120071343

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14623940120071343

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  • Re ective Practice, Vol. 2, No. 2, 2001

    Doing Re ective Supervision with StudentTeachers in a Professional DevelopmentSchool CultureEILEEN MARY WEISSLong Island University, C. W. Post Campus, Department of Curriculum andInstruction, Brookville, NY 11548, USA; e-mail eimary@aol.com

    STEPHEN WEISSStephen Weiss, New York University, Department of Teaching and Learning, 239Green Street, New York, NY 10003, USA; e-mail: stephen.weiss@nyu.edu

    ABSTRACT This paper describes a developing model of student teaching supervision thatcenters on re ective practice for student teachers, co-operating teachers, and supervisors asmembers of a community of learners. The model emerged as a result of collaborative effortsbetween a professor, principal, and co-operating teachers in a Professional DevelopmentSchool site over a period of three years. The collaborative school culture has been crucial tosupporting every cohort of student teachers in learning to become re ective practitioners.Student teachers in this newly developing program are expected to take an active role intheir professional development and evaluation. The speci c working dimensions of themodel depicted can provide practitioners with a framework that may be adapted to theirown contexts.

    Introduction

    More than ever before, new teachers need to develop the skills of re ective practiceas they meet the changing face of classrooms across the USA and other pluralisticsocieties (Banks, 1991, 1995; Berlin & Sum, 1988; Coleman, 1987; Craft, 1996;Department for Education and Employment, 1998; Hodgkinson, 1988; Levin,1989; Minority Rights Group Internation, 1998; Ogbu, 1987). Re ection is aspecial way of thinking about action and experience. Re ective thinking permits thelearner to understand and resolve unsettling, con ictual situations through cognitiveinquiry. The process of inquiry requires analyzing current experiences in the contextof prior knowledge to nd their meaning and signi cance (Dewey, 1933, 1938).When insights occur, a learner is better able to create new knowledge from theseexperiences and to develop alternative ways of behaving. As educators examine the

    ISSN 1462-3943 print; ISSN 1470-1103 online/01/020125-30 2001 Taylor & Francis LtdDOI: 10.1080/14623940120071343

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  • 126 E. M. Weiss & S. Weiss

    assumptions that guide their actions, re ection can be an agent for informing,challenging, and transforming the norms of professional practice.Over the last decade, there have been numerous teacher education reform initia-

    tives that focus upon preparing pre-service teachers to become re ective practi-tioners (Darling-Hammond, 1994; Darling-Hammond & Sykes, 1999; Levine &Trachtman, 1997). Re ective practice for teachers includes: (1) having command ofa broad spectrum of knowledge and skills to address the diverse needs of childrenand becoming thoughtful and analytic as they consider how to apply those skills; (2)engaging in inquiry-oriented study of their practice to enhance their abilities; (3)participating in decision-making about curricular and instructional matters; (4)collaborating with colleagues with an open-minded spirit; and (5) actively pursuingcontinuous professional development (Brubacher et al., 1994; Clift et al., 1990; Rosset al., 1993; Smyth, 1989; Zeichner & Liston, 1987). Research suggests that newteachers are more likely to have a greater commitment to the profession whenworking in a school culture that values teachers mentoring, collaboration, andactive participation in decision-making (Weiss & Weiss, 1999).The education of pre-service teachers typically includes eld supervision by

    university faculty and school-based educators during student teaching experiences.The literature on supervision contains many strategies and activities meant to fostercritical re ection (Goethals & Howard, 2000; Pelletier, 2000; Sullivan & Glanz,2000). However, traditional student teaching programs often do not providelearners with faculty and supervisors who model re ective behavior nor with a eldcontext that fosters re ective practice (Goodlad, 1990). Supervisory approaches thatpromote re ective teaching have little chance for success unless the university andschool culture support re ection as part of everyday practice. This paper describesa framework for re ective supervision with student teachers in a ProfessionalDevelopment School (PDS) context a school-university relationship that involvesshared decision-making and which creates new and extended roles, relationships,and responsibilities for all those involved with the intention of bringing some kindof bene t to the personnel and programs at both institutions.

    Traditional Models of Student Teaching Supervision

    Traditional models of student teaching supervision are often characterized byassumptions that student teachers are expected to defer to outside forces [that]determine standards, conform to established practices, and follow mandateshanded down by those in authority (McIntyre et al., 1996, p. 172). State educationagencies, with assistance from professional education organizations, typically de nethe standards necessary for certi cation of new teachers (Weiss, 1999; Weiss &Weiss, 1999). To meet the directives, university teacher education faculty andadministrators design student teacher supervision approaches and develop require-ments for performance of teacher candidates in eld work (Garland & Shippy,1994). Campus-based supervisors typically transmit these expectations to school-based administrators and teachers who agree to co-operate with the university(Neufeld, 1992). Co-operating teachers generally are selected who allow the

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  • Re ective Supervision with Student Teachers 127

    student teacher to practice the universitys favored models of curriculum andinstruction in an apprentice role. However, especially when the school is asked toaccept a large number of student teachers, the principal may recruit co-operatingteachers regardless of their theoretical orientation. Some administrators may evenpurposely assign student teachers to weak teachers to provide classroom support(Guyton et al., 1993). Co-operating teachers often agree to accommodate studentteachers in return for: (1) improved working conditions by reducing work-loadthrough additional assistance in the classroom and shifting repetitive, less gratifyingtasks to the student teacher; (2) economic incentives of supplemental income andfree tuition for academic course work; and (3) socio-political inducements such asgaining the status of university af liation and currying favor with school administra-tors.Primary roles and functions of the student teacher, university supervisor and

    co-operating teacher are often implicit and, therefore, unclear to each other (Guyton& McIntyre, 1990; Yates, 1981). When goals and responsibilities are not clearlyagreed upon, con ict among the participants is more likely to occur and the growthof the teacher candidate is likely to suffer (McIntyre et al., 1996). For example, sometraditional programs may not require the student teacher to meet jointly with thesupervisor and co-operating teacher to clarify expectations and plan further develop-ment. While both the co-operating teacher and supervisor may evaluate the studentteachers performance, the student teacher ultimately is expected to follow therequirements of the university, which confers the degree and recommends graduatesfor state certi cation. The student teachers reactions to the experience may not bevalued. Therefore, if the supervisor and co-operating teacher differ in their directivesor disagree in their assessments, the student teacher often tries to appease both soas to assure both an excellent academic grade and an outstanding job reference. Thisprocess perpetuates the status quo. As a student teacher in a traditional programtold one of the authors regarding her method for resolving a con ictual experience,I want to graduate and get a good job in a good school. So, when they talk their talk,I try to walk their walk.Traditional models of student teaching supervision are not usually oriented

    toward fostering student teacher re ectivity, collaboration, and decision-making.When policies are not reviewed regularly by all participants in the student teachingprocess, guidelines may become anachronistic and unresponsive to current theoryand practice. Without continuing communication between the university and theschool-based teacher educators, the student teaching experience cannot be adaptedto the needs of student teachers as individuals, their co-operating teachers or thechildren with whom they work. When student teachers perceptions are not con-sidered as a meaningful component of professional development, they are not likelyto learn independent skills of re ection, inquiry, and analysis.

    Creating a Context that Supports Re ective Supervision: formation of aprofessional development school relationship

    To address such issues of professional staff development and pre-service teacher

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  • 128 E. M. Weiss & S. Weiss

    education, in 1997 a university dean and a superintendent of schools in a suburboutside of New York City designated a professor of education to form a school-uni-versity partnership with the principal and faculty at the Crossroads School(pseudonym), a public elementary school formed in 1996 to serve a multiculturalpopulation of students. Among the deans goals was development of a new eld-based model for pre-service student teaching. The superintendents primary aim wasto establish greater communication between the school district and the university inorder to keep teachers aware of best practices in the profession.When the association began, the Crossroads School was starting its second year of

    operation and the principal, known as an innovator from her work at other schools,was in the early stages of leading the staff to de ne a vision of what they were tryingto accomplish with children. From Crossroads inception, the principal encouragedstaff to revisit habitual approaches to teaching and to participate in decisions aboutcurriculum, instruction, and staff development. During the same period, the re-cently appointed university professor, one of the authors, EileenWeiss, also experi-enced as a classroom teacher, was re-examining traditional assumptions aboutteacher education as part of her research. Thus, the site, the people, and the timingseemed right for developing new relationships and collaborating in the preparationof new teachers for the eld.As a result of much discussion, the principal, teachers, and professor decided to

    adapt the Holmes Groups (1986) view of a school-university partnership known asa Professional Development School (PDS) that:

    would provide superior opportunities for teachers and administrators toin uence the development of their profession, and for university faculty toincrease the professional relevance of their work, through: (1) mutualdeliberation on problems with student learning, and their possible solu-tions; (2) shared teaching in the university and schools; (3) collaborativeresearch on the problems of educational practice; and (4) co-operativesupervision of prospective teachers and administrators (p. 56).

    After a year of trial and error learning with initial cohorts of student teachers, it wasapparent to the PDS that the traditional, uni-directional, linear model of learning toteach, from considerations of theory to supervised practice, is in need of consider-able reconsideration (Grif n, 1999, p. 13). The partnerships continuing efforts atbuilding collaboration, shared leadership, and a spirit of inquiry in the larger schoolculture provided a supportive climate for creating a more interactive student teach-ing supervision model rooted in a re ective approach to teaching (Zeichner &Liston, 1987).Crossroads School currently serves more than 330 children from Pre-Kinder-

    garten through Grade 5. Class size averages 17 children in the earlier grades andrises to 22 children per class in Grades 3 through 5. Approximately 7% of thestudent population are ethnic minorities, mainly Spanish from Central America andEuropean Portuguese. Almost 9% are students of limited English pro ciency, butmore than 25% are from families where English is not spoken as a rst language.The 16 teachers at Crossroads School are mentoring cohorts of 510 student

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  • Re ective Supervision with Student Teachers 129

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