In Maine, education officials said that meeting rigorous standards and providing students with hands-on teaching experience already are integral parts of the state’s three nationally accredited programs at the University of Maine, the University of Maine at Farmington and the University of Southern Maine.
John Maddaus, associate professor of curriculum and foundations at the University of Maine, strongly rejected the possibility that these teacher-training programs provide inadequate preparation for students.
“We’re not just out here making this up,” he said Thursday. “And the idea that … teacher preparation has no practical component is simply untrue.”
Maddaus said the university’s education program has been vetted through the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, which has a rigorous protocol approved by the U.S. Department of Education. Additionally, Maine has state standards for teachers and for student learning.
“Both the state teacher standards and learning results are influenced by conversations happening at the national level,” he said. “We’re paying attention to what may be on the way in terms of federal policy, and how the state is responding to that.”
Ann Lynch, the director of field supervision at the University of Maine at Farmington, said that in many ways, it is “exciting” that attention is finally being paid to teacher education on the national level.
“From my perspective, education is the key to maintaining our democracy as strong as we can in this country,” she said. “Teachers are the ones who have it on their shoulders.”
She said UMF will be looking at ways to find more opportunities for teacher candidates to have experiences in school settings. Thanks to technological advances, it might not mean the student teachers will have to be physically in schools to have these experiences, she said.
“We certainly have forever believed that clinical experiences in schools are absolutely critical,” she said.
Lynch said one of her dreams is that teacher candidates will graduate with experiences teaching in rural schools, urban schools and in foreign countries. She said she’ll be speaking soon with the headmaster of Lee Academy to discuss potential opportunities for student teachers to work in the private school’s sister, or satellite, schools in Korea and China.
“I don’t think it’s all pie in the sky,” Lynch said.