What Should Pre-Service Education Look Like? An Atlas Community’s Answer

At a brainstorming session in spring 1993, members of the ATLAS community in Gorham, Maine (including faculty from the Gorham schools and the University of Southern Maine) generated a draft describing what features pre-service teacher education ought to have in an ATLAS community. What follows is excerpted and condensed from that description:


  • Apprenticeship model. Pre-service students learn the craft of teaching by observing practicing teachers and doing the work of teaching in real schools.
  • Adherence to the school calendar. Students and professors follow the school, not the university, calendar, experiencing the rhythms and schedules of the public school.
  • Essential questions, real problems. Both clinical and academic work are driven by essential questions and: real-life problems centering on issues of learning, motivation, assessment, conflict management, and coalition building.
  • Community linkages and presentations. Students are made aware of the link to the school’s larger community through presentations, observations, visits and demonstrations of their work to a community audience.
  • Cohort Organization. Students are organized into cohort groups where they learn skills of collaboration, conflict management, and communication with colleagues, avoiding the standard large-batch processing of pre-service students.
  • Diversity and individualization. The program honors the diversity of teacher ed students by providing multiple entry and exit points, requirements keyed to the individual, and a variety of paths to reach common ends.
  • Guided inquiry. Central to the program’s learning design are action research projects; ethnographic studies of communities, schools, and students; and study groups around emerging issues.
  • Alternative assessments. Traditional grades and evaluation systems are replaced by an ongoing and cooperative evaluation system including narrative transcripts, portfolios, demonstrations, exhibitions, and real-life solutions to problems.
  • Student choice and responsibility. Students and school and university educators share responsibility for constructing teacher learning, including decisions about placement, responsibilities, activities, and fields of inquiry.
  • Partnership faculty. School teachers and community people serve as bona fide faculty members and decision makers about program design and implementation.
  • Ongoing teacher development. Practicing teachers have time and opportunity for their own professional development as an integral part of the pre-service teacher education program.
  • Time for relationship. Time is allotted for building a personal and professional relationship between student teacher, mentor teacher, and university supervisor.

(Condensed with the permission of Lynne Miller, Southern Maine Partnership, Gorham, Maine.)