|Becoming a Primary School Teacher in Trinidad & Tobago, Part 2: Teaching Practice - Experience of Trainees (CIE, 2000, 54 p.)|
This paper is one segment of a two-part study that was designed to investigate the process whereby primary school teacher trainees in Trinidad and Tobago learn to teach using qualitative methods of interviews, observations and document analysis. This paper presents a detailed description and analysis of the arrangements for field experiences in practical teaching and the actual teaching practice itself. The overall intention was to gain insights into the process of learning to teach by obtaining information through observing teaching practice sessions, and by documenting and analyzing the views of the major stakeholders involved, that is the trainees, the Teachers College lecturers, who supervise teaching practice, the principals and cooperating teachers in the primary schools. Key research questions related to the provisions and orientation made for teaching practice in the college and schools, and perceptions of stakeholders on that provision; and the perceptions of trainees on the teaching practice and its usefulness.
A key finding of the study is that teaching practice as it is currently conceived and executed is problematic, though trainees do make some gains from the programme. There needs to be more consideration of the kind of primary teachers needed in Trinidad and Tobago, raising questions about the current training curriculum and the structure of teaching practice. It emerged that trainees experience difficulty reconciling theory and practice and there is a need for more reflection on action and reflection in action. There is also a need for more partnership between schools and colleges based on better communication and more clearly defined roles. The current arrangement of teaching practice, organized as three blocks, is seen as inefficient and there is a strong argument for a longer school attachment. Furthermore, there is a need for clearer criteria in the selection of cooperating teachers and provision of incentives. There is also a need to revisit assessment procedures.