|Students in the teacher credential program benefit from the real world expertise of the professional associates.|
For prospective teachers who want to know what it's like to work in today's classrooms, there's no better way than to learn from veteran teachers themselves. Six experienced teachers are working this year at Cal Poly Pomona, sharing their real world expertise and practical knowledge to the students in the College of Education & Integrative Studies' teacher credential program.
Through the newly created Professional Associates program, the veteran instructors are working as faculty members, co-teaching courses, improving and updating curriculum, mentoring students and giving workshops. The program aims to better prepare future teachers for K-12 classrooms of the 21st century. It is funded by a $6.3 million TQE/Teacher PREP grant that Cal Poly Pomona received in 2004.
“Today's classrooms are 180 degrees different in the last 10 years,” said Jared Stallones, chair of the Education Department. In the last decade, there's a greater emphasis on assessment and accountability, stricter adherence to content standards and greater use of computer technology. Also, all California teachers are now required to be certified to teach English language learners.
The professional associates, who have more than 70 years of combined teaching experience, can share an authentic view of today's classrooms to ease the transition from college students to teachers. Since each person brings a different subject background, they provide insight into teaching in all subjects – – English, science, math and social studies. In addition, they are serving as mentors to beginning teachers and will provide advice on the process of transitioning into a school administration.
“The professional associates bring a reality check to the university,” said PA Program Coordinator Janine Riveire. “They present the real-life perspective of what future teachers can expect in the schools, and what we university professors can expect of our incoming students.”
Christina Dehler, project director for the TQE/Teacher PREP grant, added: “The PAs provide the richness and authenticity of K-12 teaching to our credential programs as they themselves participate in a rich program of teacher leader capacity building. With purposeful collaboration among faculty and the associates, our credential students will get the best that both of these parties can provide: current theoretical knowledge and research-based instructional strategies applied in authentic learning contexts.”
The associates are: Dave Beran, technology teacher on special assignment in the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District; Sarai Costley, science teacher specialist in the Pomona Unified School District; Danielle Donaldson-Lovette, secondary English/language arts teacher specialist in Pomona USD; Diane Kinch, secondary math teacher specialist in Pomona USD; Venetia Louie-Chee, technology teacher on special assignment in Hacienda La Puente USD; and Liz Sarmiento, specialist in new teacher induction for Hacienda La Puente USD.
For example, Hacienda La Puente Unified provides laptop computers to every student in fifth through 12th grades to use at school and at home. The laptop initiative is aimed at increasing student achievement, preparing students for globalization and closing the technological disparity among students. The professional associates are teaching Cal Poly Pomona's credential students to integrate that kind of technology into their lesson plans.
In some cases, when the technology in K-12 schools isn't available at Cal Poly Pomona, the professional associates bring students to the school sites and demonstrate the technology. In addition, two of the associates are working with the Faculty Center to start a “Connecting Learning and Technology” community. A series of seminars and discussions will help faculty members integrate technology components into their courses.
The professional associates bring “street credential” to the university, said Riveire. As the first of its kind in California, the program is scheduled to continue for two years. Organizers hope they can institutionalize it at Cal Poly Pomona so it can benefit more new teachers.
“The PA program aligns with the hallmarks of the university — a polytechnic 'learn-by-doing' approach, service learning, learning centeredness — and addresses high need areas such as math and science education, English language learning and special education,” Dehler said.
“Teachers have a tendency to teach in the way they learned. But you have to teach in the way that students can learn,” Brown said.
Pomona Unified Math Specialist Diane Kinch agreed: “There should be an instructional change to mirror the way students learn, instead of the way that teachers are comfortable teaching it.”
“This is the type of university-school collaboration that really produces great teachers. We hope we can maintain it,” Stallones said.
For more information about the TQE/Teacher PREP grant, visit www.cpp.edu/~academic/teacher_prep/.