Not just clinical, but critical
Critical, project-based (CPB) experiences allow future teachers to work directly in public middle and high schools to gain a unique understanding of the diverse needs of local communities, school faculty, and students. To address these needs, CPB experiences are not just clinical, but critical: reflective, social justice-oriented, and both with and for underserved student populations.
Two recent CPBs, "The Having of Difficult Conversations" project and the George Mason University graduate course "Perspectives on Exceptional Teaching," are discussed below.
Critical, project-based clinical experiences
"The Having of Difficult ConveRsations"
T.C. Williams High School
Alexandria City Public Schools, Virginia, USA
About "The Having of Difficult Conversations"
We all want to be heard; we all want others to recognize our humanity. In this time of political tensions, where it seems increasingly difficult to talk across our differences and to have civil conversations—indeed, to recognize each other’s humanity—we are choosing to take on these realities head-on, via this photovoice project. We called on young people to consider four questions, facilitated by conferences with Mason teacher candidates, via photovoice methods (pictures and writings):
What is it like to be you?
What is your life like?
What is it like to be known? By whom are you known?
Young people then chose someone very different from themselves—someone with whom they disagreed about something very foundational—and used photovoice methods to address these same questions with this person, again with images and writings. With teacher candidates serving as mentors to 2-4 students, working with them in 1:1 and in small groups, students produced at least one image/reflection for each question, and also worked with their “different” partner to help them do the same.
"Perspectives on Exceptional Teaching" (POETs)
Alexandria City Public Schools, Fairfax County Public Schools, & Prince William County Public Schools
About "Perspectives on Exceptional Teaching" (POETs)
POETs explores how preservice teachers, veteran teachers, school administrators and staff, and students define exceptional teaching.
Preservice teachers document their inquiry into exceptional teaching over an intensive three-week summer course using photovoice. Teachers, students, and school staff answer the following questions:
What do you now believe makes an exceptional teacher, regardless of subject area?
What do you now believe makes an exceptional teacher in your subject area?
What do you now believe is the evidence that an exceptional teacher is successful at her/his job?
What do you now believe is the evidence that an exceptional teacher is successful at her/his job, from students’ perspectives?
What do you now believe is the evidence that an exceptional teacher is successful at her/his job, from the public’s perspective?