|Teaching Practice at the National Teacher Training College in Lesotho (CIE, 2001, 49 p.)|
|Chapter 7: Concluding summary and discussions|
Teaching practice at NTTC has evolved over the quarter century of the college's existence to become shorter, and perhaps less effective; the comparative costs have not been ascertained. The original year-long internship provided students with sustained school-focussed support through locally resident intern supervisors, trained in clinical supervision. The internship period was integrated into the whole curriculum in so far as students had to keep detailed records and complete practice-related assignments. The system was, however, said to be too costly because of the extra staff involved, and there was also an unwillingness among supervisors to reside permanently in the rural areas.
The internship programme was therefore cut in 1987 to one 15-week semester, and in future, under the DEP, it will be divided into two parts of 10 and 5 weeks respectively. Student views, taken overall including those from other MUSTER surveys, are that this is about the right length. However, it has to be noted that just after TP, respondents were equally divided between wanting more time and being satisfied with the length. In retrospect, two-thirds (2/3) of the exiting student group thought it should be shorter while many newly qualified teachers (NQTs), wished it had been longer.
Several recent studies have criticised the one-semester TP on various grounds and recommended changes. The current study found that many of the changes had not been fully or even partly implemented, and that the same criticisms were made by people who participated in this sub-study.
7.1.2 The links between TPP, TP and the curriculum
No very clear or strong links appear in the evidence between Teaching Practice Preparation (TPP), the Teaching Practice period itself, and the rest of the training programme. It does not seem that the two practical exercises were closely integrated into the curriculum, except for Professional Studies, which gives students microteaching practice before they go out.
TPP was found useful by most students surveyed, though they did not rank it very highly. The reasons for this apparently lukewarm response could be further investigated, as such a gentle introduction to classroom realities has been highly valued in other places. The lecturers who took the groups out to local schools for this exercise remarked that they would have liked to have remained with the same students and supervised them through TP, so perhaps there is an issue about continuity here, particularly given the lack of follow-up in the college afterwards. According to the survey, after TP, discussions were held in some subject classes, most frequently in English and least frequently in Science and in professional studies. However, TP does not seem linked to any practical assignment or project work.
In spite of much emphasis in this PTC programme on teaching methods as well as content, the college does not seem able to relate what it is teaching clearly to the school context. Responses to the survey suggest many students did not feel well prepared for classroom realities. While they found lesson planning and recording relatively easy, producing schemes of work was difficult. Classroom control, especially with large classes, gave them problems, as did deciding on what teaching methods would be appropriate, and finding teaching materials. This is, of course, one of the most difficult aspects of teacher education and needs to be taken very seriously.