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A Broadband Community of Practice: Connecting the University Classroom With Best Practices in Rural and Urban Settings
Unformatted Document Text:  Section I: ContentA. Statement of the IssueThe result of poor performing schools in urban and rural regions contributes to the distrust in teacher education and certification programs. Poverty, drug dependency early teen pregnancy, and transience, define pupils sitting in low performing classrooms around the country. Teacher preparation programs do little to directly prepare teacher candidates for either the challenges or rewards they will face under such conditions. Hollywood and news media alike provide an often dark and violent picture of schools serving areas of society struggling with crime, poverty, and hopelessness. Film (The Principal, Joe Clark, or The Substitute 2, 3, and 4) portrays successful teachers as only those with paramilitary training that offers hyperbole and a disconnect from the work of teaching. The truth is: well trained teachers who understand their students’ culture, and tirelessly hold high learning standards find far more success than Hollywood reveals. Classrooms exist in poor performing schools as islands of efficiency and learning activity. These are classrooms, teachers and students that pre service students must watch and learn to understand. They must interact in meaningful discussion with teachers in these classrooms; become acquainted with their students; and reflect on instructional strategies and management structures that make them successful. The question left to ask is how do we take pre service students to these sites? It is difficult for teacher preparation programs to assign students so they are physically on site to witness affective practice by successful rural or urban teachers---those who can hold back the influence of poverty and ambivalence toward schooling. One emerging design for addressing the lack of accessibility is through a distributed community of practice using electronic conferencing and observations. The classrooms bare witness to the extraordinary work accomplished under demanding circumstances. They are rarely on the radar of entering pre service teacher candidates or their eventual field assignments. With telecommunication technology pre service teacher candidates can look into unique environments that demonstrate exceptional practice. The pre service candidates can then follow up their observations with questions to the classroom teacher, and learn more about the lesson, motivation behind the teaching behavior, special conditions, classroom environment, or pedagogical design. The emergence of direct routes to the classroom through alternative certifications, teacher corps, military credits, and others provide evidence that teacher licensure through educational programs, in many areas, is irrelevant. As a result, colleges, departments, and schools of education must demonstrate that their programs offer sound pedagogical programs of importance and unique teaching experiences. Without these critical pieces of the teacher preparation puzzle alternative route teachers are left with only content and perhaps their distant memories of how they were taught as students. Once again, effective models of good teaching in the classroom through a community of practice model allows future teachers the chance to see, explore, and reflect on what they view from remote classrooms. Further, many of the alternative certification teachers are recruited for classrooms in urban or extreme rural areas of the country where the challenges of diversity are the most evident. Without a clear understanding of how to survive in this environment the chances for failure among alternative route teachers is considerable.

Authors: Watkins, Paul. and Bratberg, Bill.
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Section I: Content
A. Statement of the Issue
The result of poor performing schools in urban and rural regions contributes to the
distrust in teacher education and certification programs. Poverty, drug dependency early
teen pregnancy, and transience, define pupils sitting in low performing classrooms
around the country. Teacher preparation programs do little to directly prepare teacher
candidates for either the challenges or rewards they will face under such conditions.
Hollywood and news media alike provide an often dark and violent picture of
schools serving areas of society struggling with crime, poverty, and hopelessness. Film
(The Principal, Joe Clark, or The Substitute 2, 3, and 4) portrays successful teachers as
only those with paramilitary training that offers hyperbole and a disconnect from the
work of teaching. The truth is: well trained teachers who understand their students’
culture, and tirelessly hold high learning standards find far more success than Hollywood
reveals. Classrooms exist in poor performing schools as islands of efficiency and
learning activity. These are classrooms, teachers and students that pre service students
must watch and learn to understand. They must interact in meaningful discussion with
teachers in these classrooms; become acquainted with their students; and reflect on
instructional strategies and management structures that make them successful. The
question left to ask is how do we take pre service students to these sites?
It is difficult for teacher preparation programs to assign students so they are
physically on site to witness affective practice by successful rural or urban teachers---
those who can hold back the influence of poverty and ambivalence toward schooling.
One emerging design for addressing the lack of accessibility is through a distributed
community of practice using electronic conferencing and observations. The classrooms
bare witness to the extraordinary work accomplished under demanding circumstances.
They are rarely on the radar of entering pre service teacher candidates or their eventual
field assignments. With telecommunication technology pre service teacher candidates
can look into unique environments that demonstrate exceptional practice. The pre service
candidates can then follow up their observations with questions to the classroom teacher,
and learn more about the lesson, motivation behind the teaching behavior, special
conditions, classroom environment, or pedagogical design.
The emergence of direct routes to the classroom through alternative certifications,
teacher corps, military credits, and others provide evidence that teacher licensure through
educational programs, in many areas, is irrelevant. As a result, colleges, departments,
and schools of education must demonstrate that their programs offer sound pedagogical
programs of importance and unique teaching experiences. Without these critical pieces
of the teacher preparation puzzle alternative route teachers are left with only content and
perhaps their distant memories of how they were taught as students. Once again,
effective models of good teaching in the classroom through a community of practice
model allows future teachers the chance to see, explore, and reflect on what they view
from remote classrooms. Further, many of the alternative certification teachers are
recruited for classrooms in urban or extreme rural areas of the country where the
challenges of diversity are the most evident. Without a clear understanding of how to
survive in this environment the chances for failure among alternative route teachers is
considerable.


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