Education Dean Advocates Knowing Subjects AND How to Teach
Thursday, Sept. 17, 2009
Which is more important? A teacher knowing a subject thoroughly or knowing how to teach it effectively? Rule changes for educational preparation being forwarded by Indiana Superintendent of Education Tony Bennett seem to favor the former.
Ena Shelley, Ph.D., dean of the College of Education (COE) at Butler University, says both skills are essential, based on evidence from the College’s eight decades of educating future teachers.
Shelley said proposals to strengthen education majors’ content mastery are welcomed, since Indiana lags behind some states in minimum requirements. However, she believes other proposals — particularly ones that would cap the number of credits required for teacher education courses and in-classroom experiences — would weaken Indiana’s current pedagogy standards.
Allowing education majors to learn from and be mentored by veteran teachers in actual classrooms is so important that COE freshmen have field site classes, Shelley said. “Later, they spend one or two full semesters in supervised classrooms, practicing both their understanding of content and how to teach a subject.”
“School-based experiences are also beneficial to the schools that work collaboratively with universities,” Shelley added. “The positive impact of teacher education programs in schools is being documented by collecting and analyzing data on student learning. In a time of education budget cuts, increased class sizes and more challenges in classrooms, these programs also offer an overlooked benefit for the economic well being of schools.”
According to an economic impact study conducted by the COE during the 2008-2009 academic school year, students enrolled in the COE’s undergraduate and graduate programs contributed 3305 hours of additional instructional support in Hoosier school districts. “If the students were paid at the market rate of an instructional assistant, $11.37 per hour, the economic impact would total $1,006,735.96,” Shelley said.
As a part of practicum and internships experiences embedded in COE’s content preparation courses, Butler students have tutored P-12 students, taught small groups of children, co-taught with classroom teachers, and were responsible for operating after-school enrichment programs and providing additional support for children learning to speak English.
Dr. Ena Shelley has taught for more than 25 years, with a focus on early childhood education. For 12 years, she served on the Indiana Professional Standards Board, which oversees teacher licensure. She helped author state teaching standards for mathematics, world language, exceptional needs and building level administration. To schedule an interview with Shelley, contact Mary Ellen Stephenson at (317) 940-6944, cell (765) 940-6944, or firstname.lastname@example.org
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