Another example of conflicting practices is homework. Research is showing that homework typically does not amplify learning but in most cases can deter it. This was learned during a reading homework; just one article in over 300 pages of reading assigned for the week. Last example of conflicting practice is in the form of grades. Research shows that grades are not the best motivation for student learning. And yet, within the teaching credential program students are evaluated using A-F grades. I believe one major reason for these disconnects between research findings and utilizing the findings in practice is due to higher bodies of power. CSUSM is a program offered at a public university. Students within the program are obtaining a credential to enable them to teach within California public schools. Although the research has been proven, it takes years for administrations to shift in the new direction and put into practice innovative methods.
If I was able to design a teaching credential program I would simply improve upon the CSUSM teaching credential model. First, I would enable the teaching credential program to be separated from university requirements. This would prevent any conflict between the university model and the teaching credential model. It would enable the program to start over summer where students would begin their coursework. The current CSUSM program integrates clinical practice (student teaching) with coursework. There are times when this integrated model is successful but there are times where it becomes overwhelming. I believe by starting the program over summer where students can front load information such as classroom management, how to start an academic year, and basic lesson plan design. This would be enough information for credential students to feel confident when they start clinical practice. It would also enable less coursework in clinical practice and allow teacher candidates to focus on lesson design and academic instruction. The current CSUSM model provides time during clinical practice to work on coursework. But teacher candidates are not only expected to complete their coursework but they are also expect prepare for lessons, observe teachers, assist in other classes, learn about school sites, join activities such as sports or clubs, and learn about every student. These are a lot of expectations for teacher candidates during their clinical practice. Another improvement that I would make is consistency within the program. Wagner discusses the fact that often administrators and teachers are on different pages. Within the teaching program I have experienced this conflict in priorities. For instance, at the beginning of clinical practice I was faced with a difficult decision: do I attend back to school night or do I attend methods coursework? Every person that I asked for advice within the program gave me conflicting answers. One professor essential informed me that my priority in the program is the coursework and to complete clinical practice duties secondary to my expected coursework. Another advisor informed me that the purpose of the program was clinical practice and that everything related would take precedence. My last improvement on the program would remove traditional grades. Traditional grades do not provide accurate feedback of learning. I would utilize the UCSC model of feedback from professors versus the standard letter grade system. This would show teacher candidates areas that are strong and areas that need improvement. In addition to providing better evaluations and effective feedback, the removal of standard grading system will allow for flexibility within the program. Majority of teacher candidates were educated using a traditional method and expected to be ready to shift to a new 21st century approach the within a short amount of time. Because of this shift, teacher candidates need the time and flexibility to explore and master this approach without fear of grades. Last change to the teaching credential program would be at the federal and state level. There are too many hoops to jump through as a teacher in training. For instance there are Teacher Performance Expectations and Teacher Performance Assessments in addition to an authorized teaching credential program work. Wager states on page 128, "It’s a hoop-jumping exercise, really, and everyone knows it. The system is simply not designed to help all teachers improve." There are many requirements that level me questioning if they are put into place to support my teacher education or are they requirements to filter out teachers? There are many changes to be made but the CSUSM teaching program does incorporate many innovative strategies. By incorporating innovative strategies, I feel better prepared to enter the teaching profession than teacher candidates from other programs.