|Teaching Practice at the National Teacher Training College in Lesotho (CIE, 2001, 49 p.)|
|Chapter 7: Concluding summary and discussions|
Teaching practice has been the focus of research and reform in Lesotho, but the data given here shows that all problems have not been resolved. Recommendations made by Hopkin (1996) such as better supervision of teaching practice, the setting up of a Department of Instructional Materials and improved liaison between schools and the college have not, as this study shows, been fully implemented. It is therefore suggested as a first step, that recommendations made in earlier reports should be reviewed and where appropriate implemented in full. Our study draws particular attention to the following issues.
7.3.1 Curriculum Integration
Teaching Practice should be more closely integrated both with Teaching Practice Preparation and with the rest of the curriculum. One way is to link assignments in both Education and core subjects to the school experience. For example, child studies, action research, the development of teaching materials, experiments with different forms of testing, comparisons of teaching methods, and so on could be carried out during TPP and TP, and made part of continuous assessment. This might be easier with a two-block TP.
7.3.2 School Placements
Creative ways need to be found in which schools are selected that a) offer models of good practice and support for trainees and b) are geographically convenient. Maseru has many schools; it might be possible to select some of these as 'professional development schools'. If there are still not sufficient places, half the cohort could be placed there during the first TP block, and the other half during the second block, thus ensuring that all students had at least one good and well-supervised experience.
7.3.3 Supervision and assessment
Tutors need to be given more time and resources to undertake regular visits to appropriate groups of students. The College has a useful set of evaluation instruments for all parties, but the way these are used needs to be monitored carefully. In particular, the teaching practice grade must be based on an adequate number of visits, and moderated to ensure fairness. It may be that some visits should be purely supervisory, while others are for assessment. The role of the school in both functions needs to be reviewed.
7.3.4 Money and materials
Students had difficulty in finding teaching materials, which was partly linked to inadequate stipends. There may be ways of handling this, such as raising the stipend, selecting better resourced schools, or helping students make their own materials in college prior to TP.
7.3.5 Partnerships with schools?
The relationship between the College and the schools is probably the most important issue of all, and has several facets. Firstly, the atmosphere of mutual suspicion and mistrust needs to be dispelled, so that the two sides can develop means and ways of understanding each other and collaborating.
Secondly, the College and schools need to agree on a common set of guidelines about the structure and the content of the teaching practice programme. These could include things such as the number of lessons to be taught, how the students are inducted into the school, which teacher(s) should look after them, what kinds of support they are to be given and what other responsibilities within the school they might take on. The role of the school in assessment should be clarified.
Thirdly, the College and schools together should set out some more detailed and realistic objectives about what trainees are expected to achieve during teaching practice. For example, that TP will enable trainees to learn how to apply certain aspects of what is taught at college, to prepare and implement lesson plans in real classrooms, and to collaborate with other teachers.
Finally, suitably experienced and willing teachers should be identified and trained as mentors, by the College, so that they can complement the supervision carried out by tutors. Only this will enable the co-operating teachers to play their role more effectively, and make TP a constructive, challenging and rewarding experiences for trainees, so that they look forward to joining the professional as fully-fledged teachers.