Mentoring Elementary Education Teacher Candidates in the Instructional Design and Lesson Planning Process

Mentoring Elementary Education Teacher Candidates in the Instructional Design and Lesson Planning Process

Drew Polly (University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA), Laura K. Handler (University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA), Eugenia B. Hopper (University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA) and Ian C. Binns (University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4050-2.ch002

Abstract

Out of the myriad skills and knowledge expected for teacher candidates to develop prior to becoming a full-time teacher, the process of designing instruction and planning lessons and units is one of the most critical. In this chapter, the authors describe the multi-semester approach to mentoring and supporting elementary education teacher candidates with the process of instructional design and lesson planning. They provide a detailed look at each semester followed by implications and future directions for both practice and research.
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Going into a teaching career I didn't realize how much there is to learn. I naively thought, “I just need to know the basics and rules,” and wow, was I wrong. I didn't know how much preparation there was to getting a lesson plan made, to keep a classroom organized and managed, how much pressure teachers have. I wasn't familiar with student diversity or differentiation. It was all new to me and easy to make me doubt if I have what it takes to actually become a teacher. – Teacher Candidate

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Introduction

Entering the field of education typically as undergraduates declaratively driven by a passion for children, teacher candidates are swiftly introduced to the complexities of teaching and learning. Amidst examinations of the organization of schools, the socioemotional and psychological development of children, and the increasing diversity of student populations with their respective implications on education, prospective teachers set foot back into schools with a new lens and framework from which to observe. Often not having entered elementary schools since being students themselves decades before, candidates such as the one quoted above quickly realize the dynamic forces and countless considerations educators are constantly juggling behind the scenes. Over the next two years, they will seek to develop the numerous skills, dispositions, and pedagogies that will prepare them for such responsibilities of classroom life.

Out of the myriad skills and knowledge expected for teacher candidates to develop prior to becoming a full-time teacher, the process of designing instruction is one of the most critical, as adept lesson planning proves integral for successful classroom practice (Janssen & Lazonder, 2016; Santoyo & Zhang, 2016). Thrust into the present contexts of standards, accountability, and data-driven decisions/teacher evaluations, teacher candidates can begin to see correlations between effective instructional design and student learning outcomes, observing and experiencing themselves the professional knowledge required for their field (Chien, 2015). With concurrent coursework providing support for integrating knowledges of content and pedagogy, a term coined by Shulman (1986; 1987) as pedagogical content knowledge (PCK), fieldwork in authentic school settings helps prospective teachers recognize how unique characteristics of students are also woven into instructional design to offer meaningful learning opportunities (Hudson, 2013).

Given the far-reaching ramifications of lesson planning, teacher education programs seek to strategically design experiences for candidates themselves to establish this highly complex cognitive skill (Hansen, 2006). Mentorship, such as that conceptualized by the educative mentoring proposed by Feiman-Nemser (1998), has proven to be a method of improving the development of preservice teachers’ PCK, as experienced educators model the elaborate process of lesson planning and implementation and support mentees in the construction of their own practice (Barnett & Friedrichsen, 2015). Together, university- and school-based mentors, as instructors of coursework and supervisors of fieldwork, can provide the personal guidance needed to [support/aid] individuals in their learning, with strong partnerships/collaboration among all participants yielding the effective outcomes/preparation (Klein, Taylor, Onore, Strom, & Abrams, 2013; Zeichner, 2009; 2010).

Under increasing scrutiny for effectively preparing teachers for the field, there is a need for educator preparation programs to examine ways to support teacher candidates, including mentorship initiatives. To this end, the purpose of this chapter is to provide a comprehensive description of mentorship related to preparing teacher candidates to design instruction and create instructional lesson plans. The chapter includes a detailed examination of how candidates are mentored in multiple ways across two years of experiences at a large teacher education program in the southeastern United States.

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