|Flickr photo by ReSurge International|
Housing university faculty and associate teachers in the same building can also serve to reduce the distance between the ivory tower and classroom practice. Ensuring that teacher candidates are provided with an appropriate balance of theory and practice is essential to supporting ongoing professional growth.
The suggestion that initial teacher training should bypass universities and take place entirely at school-based training centres, so that teacher candidates can focus on practical experience, is gaining momentum in the United States. Alternative teacher certification programs that are field-based and circumvent the need for college/university accrediation can be found in almost every state.
While preservice teachers may initially benefit from more practical training, that provides them with greater confidence in their ability to quickly establish their own classrooms, an over-emphasis on practical experience can result in routinized training that is devoid of the theoretical foundation that guides the educational process. The end result may be skilled practitioners that can implement the routines and strategies that they were trained in, but they may struggle to find a suitable response to unique problem or challenge. While nurse-practitioners can provide excellent care when responding to the common cold, most patients would choose to visit a specialist to diagnose an unusual polyp.
Educators that receive an appropriate balance of theory and practice and are exposed to educational research during their training may be better equipped to diagnose your child's unique learning challenges. Consequently, professional development schools may be uniquely positioned to provide teacher candidates with the appropriate dose of theory and practice needed to support ongoing professional growth.