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Teaching Course Content Through Mentoring: One Faculty Member's Experience in a University and Public School System Collaboration
Unformatted Document Text:  Teaching course content through mentoring: One faculty member's experience in a university and public school system collaboration. Section I: As reported on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Website, the National High School Graduation Rate currently hovers around 71%; in some southern states, the rate is even lower. For example, in Alabama, only 58% of students from the class of 2002 graduated with a high school diploma; in Georgia only 56% achieved the same benchmark. This presentation will provide information about one faculty member's involvement in a campus-wide initiative designed to ultimately improve his state's high school graduation rate through mentoring. This presentation will illustrate how one (College of Education) faculty member redesigned an existing methods course to incorporate a mentoring component that paired junior and senior-level teaching candidates with at-risk elementary and middle school students. The mentoring served a number of important purposes. For one, it remained a viable way to teach (college) course content while helping public school students learn their subject matter. The original initiative invited all faculty to participate; eventually, courses in the Humanities, Business, and Natural and Applied Sciences were represented. Second, the mentoring strengthened our institution's level of commitment to the public school system and the community at large. The University already provides release time, stipends, and grants for "civic engagement" projects; more recently, our college of education began a formal partnership with the school system in which eligible, practicing teachers can waive most tuition expenses while earning a Masters degree. The mentoring partnership was just the latest in a series of efforts to deepen this involvement. Third, mentoring provided the vehicle by which our students could develop a close, personal relationship with elementary and middle-school youth who might be at risk of school failure. Over the long-term, it is hoped these relationships will promote in those youth the skills they need to do well in school and graduate. In fact, several studies have documented the benefits of mentoring. For example, adolescents who reported having an adult mentor were less likely to have participated in 4 (of 5) identified risk behaviors - ever having carried a weapon, having used illicit drugs in the past 30 days, having more than 1 sexual partner in the last 6 months, or smoking more than 5 cigarettes daily (Beier, Rosenfeld, Spitalny, Zansky, & Bontempo, 2000). In another study, one group of at risk youth paired with adult mentors posted fewer absences and higher grades in English than students not enrolled in the program (McPartland & Nettles, 1991). Most mentoring programs also include a tutoring component; research suggests that students who are tutored make more gains in academic areas than students who are not tutored. For example, Schwartz (1977; in Reisner, Perry, & Armitage, 1989) found that 7th grade students who were tutored made average increases in reading of 2.1 grade levels compared to 1.0 grade level for the control groups. This presentation fits perfectly with the stated theme for AACTE's 2006 Annual Meeting and specifically, Strand II: Picturing Expanded Alliances. It will describe just one way that Colleges of Teacher Education (and institutions of higher learning in general) might better engage their candidates in meaningful work in the larger community and with the public schools in particular. Most colleges of teacher education

Authors: Costner, Richard.
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Teaching course content through mentoring: One faculty member's experience in a
university and public school system collaboration.
Section I:
As reported on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Website, the National High
School Graduation Rate currently hovers around 71%; in some southern states, the rate is
even lower. For example, in Alabama, only 58% of students from the class of 2002
graduated with a high school diploma; in Georgia only 56% achieved the same
benchmark. This presentation will provide information about one faculty member's
involvement in a campus-wide initiative designed to ultimately improve his state's high
school graduation rate through mentoring.
This presentation will illustrate how one (College of Education) faculty member
redesigned an existing methods course to incorporate a mentoring component that paired
junior and senior-level teaching candidates with at-risk elementary and middle school
students. The mentoring served a number of important purposes. For one, it remained a
viable way to teach (college) course content while helping public school students learn
their subject matter. The original initiative invited all faculty to participate; eventually,
courses in the Humanities, Business, and Natural and Applied Sciences were represented.
Second, the mentoring strengthened our institution's level of commitment to the public
school system and the community at large. The University already provides release time,
stipends, and grants for "civic engagement" projects; more recently, our college of
education began a formal partnership with the school system in which eligible, practicing
teachers can waive most tuition expenses while earning a Masters degree. The mentoring
partnership was just the latest in a series of efforts to deepen this involvement. Third,
mentoring provided the vehicle by which our students could develop a close, personal
relationship with elementary and middle-school youth who might be at risk of school
failure.
Over the long-term, it is hoped these relationships will promote in those youth the
skills they need to do well in school and graduate. In fact, several studies have
documented the benefits of mentoring. For example, adolescents who reported having an
adult mentor were less likely to have participated in 4 (of 5) identified risk behaviors -
ever having carried a weapon, having used illicit drugs in the past 30 days, having more
than 1 sexual partner in the last 6 months, or smoking more than 5 cigarettes daily (Beier,
Rosenfeld, Spitalny, Zansky, & Bontempo, 2000). In another study, one group of at risk
youth paired with adult mentors posted fewer absences and higher grades in English than
students not enrolled in the program (McPartland & Nettles, 1991). Most mentoring
programs also include a tutoring component; research suggests that students who are
tutored make more gains in academic areas than students who are not tutored. For
example, Schwartz (1977; in Reisner, Perry, & Armitage, 1989) found that 7th grade
students who were tutored made average increases in reading of 2.1 grade levels
compared to 1.0 grade level for the control groups.
This presentation fits perfectly with the stated theme for AACTE's 2006 Annual
Meeting and specifically, Strand II: Picturing Expanded Alliances. It will describe just
one way that Colleges of Teacher Education (and institutions of higher learning in
general) might better engage their candidates in meaningful work in the larger
community and with the public schools in particular. Most colleges of teacher education


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