Enhancing internships: Focus on teacher education for K-to-12

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HIGHER Education guidelines prescribing qualifications of faculty members for professional baccalaureate degrees include the advice to have 40 percent of the academic force to be in actual practice of the profession, while the 60 percent are to be fulltime in the academe. The latter are usually those who conduct classes for the core curriculum—the general education/foundation/liberal arts subjects, including physical education and sports. These, as far as I can remember, were the guidelines of the Ministry of Education in the 80s. CHED Memo Order No.52, s. 2007 guidelines for the opening of teacher education baccalaureate reiterates the general rule regarding the academic force that “all fulltime and a minimum of 50 percent of the part-time should have a master degree in the discipline or its equivalent at any given point of time.” The same CMO stipulates that 50 percent of the academics should be fulltime with the teacher education college; “those teaching the professional education courses should hold valid certificate of registration and valid professional license to teach, an appropriate master degree in education or in any of the allied fields.”

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In adopting the Enhanced Basic Education or K-to-12 system, our “public education needs a dramatic overhaul of how teachers are prepared.” Structural, curricular and philosophical reforms, as Okabe (Aug. 2013) synthesized, manifest strongly in the policy key points of the K-to-12 as “preparation for higher education,” eligibility for in and cross-border collegiate enrolment and “immediate employability” of a graduate—“all leading toward a holistically developed Filipino”
<bitstream/2344/1267/3/ARRIDE_Discussion_No.425_okabe.pdf>. Inclusive education fostered in the K-to-12 necessitates new approaches, methods and techniques such that “all learners have space to find their voice and to express their thoughts and opinions.”
Flashback: To address developments that impact on pre-service education, the CHED technical panel for Teacher Education, of which I remained as member after being its chair, together with the Teacher Education Council where I, too, was a member, introduced the Field Experience component in revising the 2004 teacher education curriculum. Field Experience was actually derived from the early exposure program (EEP) in the 90s we had at the then-0Bukidnon State College (now a university). Previously proposed to the late Bro. Andrew Gonzales, FSC, then-Secretary of DepEd (1998 – 2001), as Curriculum Initiatives for Teacher Education, or CITE (or as the University of Maryland translates it, “Creative Initiatives for Teacher Education”), the then-EEP was introduced as six units of “Field Practice” courses to the 2004 revised curriculum. These were intended “to provide students with practical learning experiences in which they can observe, verify and reflect on and actually experience different components of the teaching-learning processes in actual school settings.

The experiences begin with field observations and gradually intensify until they take practice teaching” (CMO 30 s. 2004). Our 2004 team suggested to label “practice teaching” as “internship” or “clinical practice” for both the cognitive, technical and value/affective implications of either term. The label, however, was short-lived; its age-old label as “practice teaching” stuck. The 2007 curriculum revision chaired by Dr. Allan Bernardo, and of which I remained as member, retained the six units of Field Study courses spread as two units in sophomore year and four units in junior year. These prepared senior year for the six units of Practice Teaching—“an integral part designed to give students guided and controlled experiences with professionals in the elementary and secondary schools in context of the actual teaching and learning environment” <http://www.jobopenings.ph/article_item-126/Importance_of OntheJobTraining.html>.

Practice teaching as an internship gives the student-teacher the opportunity to try the art of teaching before actually getting into the real world of the teaching profession <sajournalofeducation.co.za/index.php/saje/article/viewFile/129/160>. An article on best practices in teacher pre-service in India sums up what everyone of us believes that, “The quality of a teacher’s performance in the classroom and school context is determined largely by the initial academic and professional training he/she receives before being inducted to schools as well as recurrent in-service training and professional development support and the job experience gained on an ongoing basis” <>. While it refers to best practice in curriculum revision, what we have here with quote from the same source, nevertheless, is also applicable especially to what the Field Practice courses should input into the interns’ catalogue of learning. “This essentially (pertains) to conceptual and practical understanding sought by student-teachers” of what quality learning is. Interns should be helped to discern “ideas and concepts needed to understand and carry out teacher roles; acquiring adequate understanding of other conceptual knowledge in the form of technical, theoretical know-how; and learning to use them in practice.”

As a vital component of teacher pre-service education, internship rounds up the competencies of the teacher education graduate to be able to grow professionally. Together with their mentors/preceptors, interns learn “how to better ensure the attainment of high learning outcomes of their pupils,” “apply what they learn to think critically and solve problems, demonstrate the ability to respond to each student’s cognitive and social-emotional developmental needs.” These realities are considered to have “a profound impact on the classroom.” The internship should then prepare teachers with the capacity to meet these realities by providing practical strategies for diverse learners through a “well-versed understanding of their curricula, (knowing) their communities, (applying) their knowledge of child growth and development, (using) assessments to monitor student progress and effectively (engaging) students in learning.” Additionally, internships should hone the soon-to-be professional teacher in the art and practice of “collaboration, communication, and problem-solving skills to keep pace with rapidly changing learning environments and new technologies” <http://www.ncate.org/LinkClick.aspx?Fileticket =zzeiB1OoqPk%3D&tabid=7>.

Teresita Tanhueco-Tumapon, PhD, is one of the Philippines’ most accomplished educators and experts on institutional management in colleges and universities. Her studies included not only education and pedagogy but also literature, general science and history. She studied not only in the topmost universities in the Philippines but also in Germany, Great Britain and Japan. She headed chartered institutions, was vice-president for academics and for external relations and internationalization. She is copy editor of the Liceo journals, an internationalization consultant and professorial lecturer on-call and at the Graduate Studies of Liceo de Cagayan University (in Cagayan de Oro City). She holds a Lifetime Professional Achievement Award from the central office of the Commission on Higher Education.

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