B. What are the goals of the Penn State - State College Elementary PDS Partnership?
The SCASD-Penn State PDS Partnership collaboratively conceptualized four main goals for the program, known to the partners as the "Four E 's:"
- Enhance the educational experiences of all children.
- Ensure high quality induction of new teachers into our profession.
- Engage in furthering our own professional growth as teachers and teacher educators.
- Educate the next generation of teacher educators.
These goals have guided the actions and efforts of the partnership since its inception. While one component of the PDS, the undergraduate teaching internship, is focused primarily on the inquiry-based preparation of pre-service teachers to become "career professionals" (Holmes Group, 1986), the "Four E's" also focus on the simultaneous renewal and professional development of the school and university based faculty involved in the partnership.
In addition to the Four E's, the partnership's efforts are guided by the Teacher Education Conceptual Framework of Penn State's College of Education (i.e., the "blue sheets"). This framework represents the knowledge, skills, and dispositions expected of new teachers who graduate from this program. The framework is built upon a central theme of Educators as Life-Long Learners, which emphasizes an inquiry focus for beginning teachers that allows them to be critically reflective about their work and the multidimensional contexts in which their work takes place. The inquiry basis for the PDS internship contributes greatly to the interns' (and mentor teachers') development as critically reflective practitioners. A key outcome of our program is that new teachers are well positioned to problematize practices of teaching, systematically study those practices, and take action for change based on such study. During the yearlong internship, mentors and interns develop the capacity to engage in teacher inquiry and eventually conduct their own teacher inquiry projects. The results of these projects are presented at an Annual Teacher Inquiry Conference held in May. The interns' and mentors' presentations of their work at this conference attest to their ability to critically reflect on and transform important aspects of schooling and teaching.