|Becoming a Primary School Teacher in Trinidad & Tobago, Part 2: Teaching Practice - Experience of Trainees (CIE, 2000, 54 p.)|
|Chapter 5: Summary And Discussion|
There were differences in provisions for practice in teaching, as well as in the structure of the PET programme between the Colleges. Valsayn seemed to have a more structured PET programme than Corinth. At Corinth, experimentation is continuing in an attempt to find an appropriate structure for the PET programme. Corinth employs a system which involves trainees in group preparation for, and conduct of, teaching before they are sent out on their own on their first real teaching practice assignment. Valsayn does not have a similar system.
The provisions for practice also varied significantly among the cooperating schools, and determined the type of opportunities offered to trainees for applying the strategies taught. The critical provisions which facilitated the trainees' work included good physical characteristics of the receiving schools (discrete classrooms, low noise level, etc.), the professional expertise and cooperativeness of cooperating teachers, as well as a school culture which was receptive to innovative teaching approaches.
Teacher educators generally viewed the provisions for teaching practice as less than ideal. They outlined that they carried a heavy workload during teaching practice rounds, since they would be required to be supervising one year group in the field while having to conduct in-college sessions with the other year group during the same period. The task of checking the units trainees prepared for teaching practice was also described as contributing to this heavy workload. One of the areas of great concern for teacher educators was the absence of shared understandings among the College administration and the principal and staff of the cooperating schools about roles and responsibilities during the teaching practice. This resulted in varying levels of support for trainees in the host schools.
Trainees were generally of the view that they were overburdened with work in preparing units and lessons for teaching practice sessions. Some of them felt that they needed far more instruction in the area of unit and lesson planning before being sent into the field. Whilst trainees acknowledged that physical conditions in the receiving schools were not always ideal, they were more concerned about the different levels of support provided by supervisors as well as cooperating teachers. The levels of support from supervisors spanned the full range from sharing and nurturing relationships to autocratic ones. In the case of the cooperating teachers, there were those who were genuinely concerned about the well-being of trainees and did what they could (with the limited preparation that they had for the task) to facilitate the trainees' work. At the other extreme, there were those cooperating teachers who saw the teaching practice attachment as the time to take a rest from their work and who absented themselves from the classroom. The absence of proper support from supervisors and/or cooperating teachers reduced the willingness of trainees to try out new strategies in the classroom, especially in the presence of supervisors who were also there to grade them.
Most trainees were conscientious about making use of what they had learnt at College during the teaching practice. Some maximised this by working in groups in preparing for teaching practice. This often resulted in enhanced planning and delivery of lessons and in the production of quality resource materials. Unfortunately, some trainees were unable to maximise their preparation time either because of poor time management, poor attitude to the teaching practice, or, in the case of an unfortunate few, additional responsibilities due to the absence of the cooperating teacher.
Trainees agreed that their first teaching practice was a learning experience, that they were better prepared for the second teaching practice, and that they were looking forward to the final session. Some felt that not enough time was spent on the teaching of methodologies, and educational theory and practice at the College. There were also concerns about the fairness of the assessment of the teaching practice since contact time between trainees and their supervisors varied. There was the perception that there was some correlation between the number of visits received and the quality of feedback and guidance given. Furthermore, trainees reported that the grading practices of supervising lecturers were not uniform and they were able to cite concrete examples of instances where this lack of uniformity had been displayed.