Colton & Sparks-Langer Restructuring Student Teaching Experiences

Colton, A. B., & Sparks-Langer, G. (1992). Restructuring student teaching experiences. In C. Glickman (Ed.), Supervision in transition: 1992 yearbook of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (pp. 155-168). ASCD.

The Vision: A Self-Directed Teacher

·      "We see the teacher of the future as a self-directed person who is intrinsically motivated to analyze a situation, set goals, plan and monitor actions, evaluate results, and reflect on his own professional thinking. As a part of this process, the teacher also considers the immediate and long-term social and ethical implications of his actions. Such a person explores a variety of possible actions - and their consequences - before choosing one. This person is not afraid to take risks and try new ideas. He is also eager and willing to construct new knowledge by sharing ideas and questions with others as a means of growing professionally (p. 156)."


Theoretical Underpinnings: Construction of Meaning

·      Guided Participation

o   "A student teacher progresses most effectively through the zone (of proximal development) when a trusting relationship has been established with the supervisor (p. 158)."

·      A Concrete Example


Supervisory Practices

·      Developing a knowledge base for supervisors (my words): "We believe supervising teachers need to be able to: (1) become more conscious of their own thinking and become more self-directed, (2) clearly explain their own professional thinking, and (3) promote thoughtful self-directed behavior in others (p. 161)." Supervisors also need to be active listeners and be able to read and respond appropriately to body language. They also need to be skilled observers. Supervisors must also have interpersonal skills. They must be able to build trusting relationships.

·      Supervisor Training

o   These authors engaged their supervisors in initial training sessions and then involved them in monthly meetings to problem solve with other supervisors. It seemed as if they were calling mentors supervisors, implying that mentors need the same knowledge, skills, and training as supervisors. Nolan & Parks (in preparation 2010) study on mentor knowledge would contradict that notion.

·      Developmental Activities for Student Teachers

o   They used a prescriptive, developmental program for all of their student teachers that didn't allow for any differentiation. By certain predetermined weeks, student teachers were expected to be engaging in specific activities regardless of readiness. It was a 15 week experience. The first five weeks included primarily observation of routine tasks and then acquisition of simple tasks. The student teacher implements one lesson using a direct approach, videotapes it, and analyzes it with the supervisor (or mentor in this case). In the second five weeks, the student teacher assumes some of the teaching responsibilities teaching anywhere from one to three subjects or class periods. They are observed twice during this time. Reflection journals, used throughout, act as avenues for assessment and evaluation of their teaching. The final five weeks, the student teacher is responsible for all of the planning and teaching. She must also plan an entire unit. Another lesson is videotaped, and student teachers are required to write a reflective paper comparing the first lesson with this lesson. The student teacher is observed formally four times throughout the entire program and is observed informally on a daily basis.


Recommendations and Future Directions

·      "Too often, universities take on the responsibility for structuring student teaching with little involvement of teachers (p. 165)."