BOR to change teacher training model

Nick Lowrey

Future teachers in South Dakota will see a new training model soon.

The proposed new training model would involve just three years on a college campus and a full year as a student teacher in one of South Dakota’s school systems. The new training model is a shift away from traditional teacher education to a more clinical, hands-on approach.

“It kind of mimics the medical approach,” said Jennifer Weber, an instructor in the Teaching, Learning and Leadership department.

The hope is to fit the new training model into the Board of Regents’ new 120-credit graduation requirement, which makes completing the required academic coursework a bit easier. All five BOR institutions that have teacher education programs are working on their own variations of the model to conform to their individual requirements.

“This is one of those things coming out of the campuses,” said Sam Gingerich, BOR system vice president for Academic Affairs.

According to Weber, the South Dakota Education Discipline Council was asked by the BOR to look at developing the new model about a year and a half ago. Gingerich said moving to a clinical training model, similar to what students in nursing programs go through, is a national trend in teacher education.

“They (student teachers) would be immersed in a school setting,” said Jennifer Kampmann, a lecturer in the Teaching, Learning and Leadership department.

For SDSU students the new training model will include a few other changes. For one, they will no longer be known as student teachers and instead be called teacher candidates. Teacher candidates will work as partners or co-teachers with the full-time teacher in their classroom during their year of residency.

“Right now research shows that co-teaching produces better results for students,” Weber said.

SDSU won’t fully implement the new training model into all of its education programs until after 2014. Kampmann said secondary or middle and high school teaching programs wouldn’t have the year long residency until then. The early childhood education program could see the changes earlier, however. And SDSU does not have an elementary education program.

“We want to build more classroom experience into the program,” Kampmann said.

The five schools are also working together to implement the new three-plus-one system so that students from each program will be able work well in any of the K-12 systems in South Dakota.  The new model will give future teachers far more practical teaching experience as well as a more comprehensive look at how a whole school year works.

“Students coming into those programs should be excited about all the hands-on experience they will get,” Kampmann said. “How great to graduate and feel confident that you can hit the ground running.”

Because of the extended student teaching requirement, South Dakota’s K-12 school districts will also play a much bigger role in teacher education. According to Gingerich, as the program develops, university faculty members may be posted in various school districts to help student teachers. More districts will also have to be included in the student teacher program, many of which might be a long way from the student teacher’s university.

“The experiences will need to be in where the student teachers will be working,” Gingerich said.

The new training model is not without some problems, however. Gingerich said that with only three years on campus completing the required course work for becoming a science teacher could be difficult. At SDSU teacher candidates actually complete a degree for a specific major and then get their teaching certificate.

“Now (students) will only have six semesters,” Gingerich said. “That can make it difficult to get the required chemistry work done.”