Training the Trainer: Providing Future Teachers With Appropriate Models

Morris I. Beers*

Introduction

SUNY Brockportís Teacher Certification Programs require that all students complete an academic major in addition to their certification requirements. There is no Education Major at SUNY Brockport, even for students pursuing PreK-6 certification. Prospective K-12 teachers in our programs come from a variety of discipline areas, each with its own unique technology applications. Future teachers need to see appropriate modeling of technology in order to effectively integrate that technology into their own classrooms. The Department of Education and Human Development has been incorporating technology into the professional education courses, but there seemed to be a gap in that students were not always exposed to appropriate models of technology use in their own content areas.

A large number of students completing certification programs in the Department of Education and Human Development enter at the junior level after completing their first two years of college at one of several area Community Colleges. It seemed very appropriate to create a model for faculty development that also included Liberal Arts faculty at those institutions.

Finally, it seemed important to seek the advice and counsel of K-12 practitioners as we created our faculty development program. The overall focus of the program was to improve the technology experiences our pre-service students receive before completing their degrees, being certified, and entering a K-12 classroom.

AN OVERVIEW OF THE PROJECT

This project pulled together a consortium of SUNY Brockport, Genesee Community College, and Medina Central Schools. Genesee Community College is one of the main two-year schools preparing students to pursue further study at SUNY Brockport. Medina Central is a rural schools district where Brockport places students for field experiences and which is also a district using a great deal of technology in the K-12 classrooms.

A Steering Committee was formed of members from each component of the consortium. Two faculty members from SUNY Brockport and one staff member form Academic computing joined two faculty members from Genesee Community College and their Director of Academic Computing. Medina Central Schools supplied four classroom teachers, one each from the primary, intermediate, middle, and high schools. The Steering Committee met early in the project year to plan for six training sessions for Liberal Arts faculty from both SUNY Brockport and Genesee Community College. At the same time faculty were being recruited from both colleges. Selected faculty members had to be willing to attend the training sessions and rewrite one of their syllabi to incorporate greater use of technology. Participating faculty members are from departments of mathematics, foreign language, psychology, biology, English, reading, and computer science.

At the conclusion of the one-year project each of the involved faculty members will revise one of their courses to reflect an increased use of technology in their classrooms. In one case a faculty member from SUNY Brockport and one from Genesee Community College are working together to produce a common syllabus for a course they each teach. It is the hope of the steering committee that this project by providing college faculty with training sessions, support, and a forum for the discussion of the implementation of technology, will provide the catalyst they need to make such a move.

TRAINING SESSIONS

The first of six planned training sessions was held on Friday, December 3, 1999. The session gave an overview of the use of technology in the classroom, instruction on Microsoft PowerPoint, and an introduction to the World Wide Web. The morning sessions included examples of PowerPoint, a brief lesson on the use of the software, a lab period, and a discussion of advantages and limitations. The afternoon sessions focused on accessing the World Wide Web and various search engines. At the end of the day, those in attendance were polled regarding their future needs in the area of technology.

The second training session was held on Thursday, February 3, 2000. The topic for the morning sessions was Microsoft Excel and the format similar to Day 1. Examples of spreadsheet applications were presented, a brief instruction period followed by lab time given, and a conclusion with discussion of advantages and limitations. The afternoon sessions were on the use and capabilities of electronic mail including listservs, mailing lists, and attachments.

The third training session was on Wednesday, March 1, 2000 and focused on creating web pages. The morning sessions were devoted to the use of Microsoft Office tools, such as Word, to create web pages. Faculty were presented with some brief instruction, a long work period, and a discussion regarding how web pages in particular and the WWW in general could help with their teaching.

The fourth training session is planned for Tuesday, March 28, 2000 and will include the use of scanning devices and digital cameras to aid in the production of materials for individual web pages created at the last session. The remaining two training sessions will be held on April 10, 2000 and May 1, 2000. The agendas for these last two sessions have yet to be developed and will be based on participant feedback at our next session.

K-12 PRACTITIONER INPUT

Continued participation of the four teachers from Medina Central Schools has been a particularly valued part of this project. Input from these K-12 teachers has been valuable in determining the skills we want our pre-service teachers to have upon completion of their certification programs. This in turn has helped us focus on technology applications we would like the pre-service teachers to experience in their college classrooms. The participation of the K-12 teachers in the training sessions has been highly motivating for college faculty who feel somewhat behind in their technology skills when seeing what the Medina teachers have been doing.

OUTCOMES

Liberal arts faculty at the State University of New York College at Brockport and Genesee Community College worked together with teachers from a local school district to learn information technology skills that were new to them and how to implement those skills in the classroom. Awareness of appropriate uses of technology in both the college and K-12 environments has increased. The K-12 teachers served as consultants to the college faculty on the classroom applications of technology and role modeled technology use. College faculty seemed more motivated when they saw how much was being done by the K-12 teachers in their classrooms.

Two web servers have been purchased and put into operation, one at SUNY Brockport and one at Genesee. These servers will be important in future work with area K-12 schools and Brockportís pre-service teachers. Beginning next September all pre-service elementary teachers in their first methods course will create their own web page that will be mounted on one of these servers. When they work in their assigned classrooms, they will assist the teachers in creating a classroom web page that will also be mounted on these servers. All of this will aid in the communication among pre-service students and between them and their assigned schools. Classroom teachers in cooperating school districts will be able to use these two web servers for other web pages they develop, since such services are often not available in the districts.

This project has served to raise the knowledge level of a number of college faculty, create understanding among them of how technology is used in the K-12 schools, and prepare them to better model the use of technology for their college level students. It has also created a much better community among the three members of the consortium. We will definitely expand this model to other school districts and more faculty members in the future.