A New Conceptual Model for Principal Involvement and Professional Collaboration in Teacher Education
by Anita M. Varrati, Mary E. Lavine & Steven L. Turner - 2009
Background/Context: Beginning teachers often identify the school principal as a key figure for support and guidance. Few teacher education conceptual models exist that significantly integrate the building principal into the clinical experiences of teacher candidates. The rationale behind initiating discourse on principal involvement grows out of current policy and reform initiatives that require increased accountability for improved student performance. The call for more deliberate principal involvement in preservice also arises in regard to teacher attrition and retention concerns. Having the principal engage in active mentoring during preservice may positively address these issues by providing a more complete socialization and enculturation process into today’s context of schooling.
Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: The major research questions for this study were: (1) What are the level and types of support that building principals provide for the preparation of new teachers? (2) What are the obstacles that may be preventing principals from becoming more involved with teacher preparation? (3) What are the types of activities that make sense for principal involvement with field experience and student teaching? (4) What are suggestions for more meaningful collaboration between schools and teacher/administrator preparation programs?
Research Design: The study was designed as an interpretive qualitative research project that attempted a measure of self-reporting through in-depth interviews.
Conclusions/Recommendations: M³—A new conceptual model of collaboration (three supports for preservice teacher: mentor, university supervisor, and principal) was presented to include the principal with the preservice teacher, university supervisor, and cooperating teacher in a community of practice for teacher preparation. To build on this research and continue the discourse about the principal’s role, several implications and areas for future study are presented: (1) investigation of teacher preparation programs more in depth to get further information about how principals are involved in teacher education, (2) implementation of the M³ conceptual model in a pilot capacity during field and student teaching experiences to gather more data about collaboration, especially the role of the principal, (3) the collaboration of principal preparation and teacher education programs to address this aspect of supervision in course content and internships, (4) the difference in perceptions of prospective and practicing principals regarding their role with teacher candidates during preservice, and (5) study of professional development schools to see how the principal is involved in a supervisory and instructional leadership capacity with preservice teachers.
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