Educators and researchers have repeatedly emphasized the importance of incorporating guidelines for reflective practices in teacher education programs (Calderhead, 1989; Dieker & Monda-Amaya, 1997; Loughran, 2002). Teachers acknowledge the benefits of reflecting on their practices, but cite time constraints due to large class sizes as one of the primary reasons for not being able to. The Graduate Learning Clinic (GLC) was created as an alternative practicum site for students with general education teaching certificates, working towards a Master’s Degree and teaching certificate in special education.
Students, referred to as “clinicians”, acquired first hand experiences working closely with their “clients” in the GLC. Clients ranged in age from 6 years to 18 years, and in ability from those who were gifted to those with multiple disabilities. More schools are using the co-teaching model, where general and special education teachers are expected to work together for the benefit of each child in the classroom. Since children in public school classrooms often do not reflect their teacher’s cultural background (Banks, 1994), involvement of as well as collaboration with parents or guardians takes on even greater importance. The GLC provided all these experiences benefiting not only clients and clinicians, but also the children these clinicians were likely to (and did) teach in their classrooms. Voluntary and anonymous surveys conducted over three years repeatedly yielded data supporting the efficacy of our methods. While clinicians changed every session due to the nature of the clinic, our general requirements and expectations remained the same. Parents responding to our surveys expressed a high degree of satisfaction with the effects of the GLC on the academic achievement and social skill development of their children. For example, one parent with a son and daughter in the spring 2002 GLC had this to say, “What a wonderful program. All districts should know about this… my children enjoyed this more than school.” Due to changes in state regulations regarding teacher certification, the GLC was closed in December 2003
|Keywords:||Teacher Education, After School Programs|
Associate Professor, School of Education, Nazareth College, Rochester, Rochester, New York, USA
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