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New Book Details Best Practices of UNH's Teacher Preparation Program

By Lori Wright, Media Relations
July 7, 2010

How Teachers Learn

The essential goal for teacher education seems clear – to provide our nation’s schools with the best possible teachers. The ramifications of getting this correct are critical for our nation’s children and our country’s future.

Now a new book, “How Teachers Learn,” details the best possible preparation for our nation’s teachers. A study of UNH’s five-year teacher education program, the book documents the evolution and achievements of a program that is a national model of the best practices for teacher preparation.

The book is edited by Michael Andrew, founder and longtime director of UNH’s five-year teacher education program, and James Jelmberg, an intern supervisor in the program. It is published by Peter Lang.

Founded in 1974, UNH’s five-year teacher education program was the first of its kind at a public university and one of the first two such programs in the United States. An integrated undergraduate-graduate program for elementary and secondary teachers, students who complete the program graduate with a master’s degree in education and are licensed to begin teaching in New Hampshire.

UNH’s program is unique in that it strives to create teachers who are reflective decision makers.

“A core tenet of our program is that our graduates are thoughtful and reflective practitioners who learn from experience. By this we mean they make well-reasoned choices within the complex and demanding conditions of teaching and take into account the moral, philosophical, and practical implications of their educational decisions. We recognize the fact that the work of teaching is intricate, demanding not only a solid professional knowledge base, subject matter background, and the necessary personal qualities, but also the appropriate use and integration of specific actions based on knowledge and understanding of one's students and the application of professional judgment,” said Tom Schram, associate professor of education and director of teacher education at UNH.

“In the current national climate, in which abbreviated, non-university based alternatives to teacher licensure are undercutting the quality and depth of what it means to become — and, more importantly, remain — a teacher, we are steadfast in our commitment to a rigorous model of teacher preparation that, among other considerations, emphasizes close mentoring and guided reflection throughout the experience,” Schram said.

The book has received critical praise from experts in the field of teacher education and preparation.

“In a time where the ‘flavor of the month’ guides teacher certification programs nationally, it is refreshing to see a model program that has systematically reinvented itself every year since its inception. If all teacher education programs in this country invested in a similar program for the long haul, we would not have a teacher shortage, as our new teachers would have the skills to be successful,” said Richard Schwab, dean emeritus and professor of education leadership at the Neag School of Education, University of Connecticut.

Jeanne Elis Ormond, professor emerita of the University of Northern Colorado and author of “Human Learning and Educational Psychology: Developing Learners,” said, “All too often, teacher education programs seem to be little more than patchworks of courses with semester-long teaching experiences tacked on at the end. In contrast, the University of New Hampshire’s five-year program is a truly integrated curriculum grounded in theory and research about what works in teacher education.”

For more information on UNH’s five-year teacher education program, visit http://www.unh.edu/education/index.cfm?id=AE477DD2-AD93-37DA-88BF931EA60A77BE.

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