Teachers (for) Elementary and Middle Schools
Catherine Fallona, Carol Lynn Davis, and Barbara Bales
The Teachers for Elementary and Middle Schools Program (TEAMS)
was designed to fill the void in teacher preparation that had
been created in 1989 when the USM education faculty voted to disband
its undergraduate program in favor of the graduate level Extended
Teacher Education Program. Built on the principles and practices
of ETEP, it offers undergraduates the same rich array of coursework
and practical experience as ETEP over a period of four and one
Currently completing its seventh year of implementation, TEAMS
is based on the same guiding principles and uses the same standards
and assessments as ETEP.
The program is intended for undergraduates who identify a strong
interest in teaching at the elementary and/or middles school level.
It is a cohort-based program that is designed to ensure that students
have a strong background in both the liberal arts and professional
education. As such, it leads to a degree in a liberal arts field
and certification as an elementary teacher, K-8, in Maine. Like
ETEP, the program combines coursework and field experiences. Upon
completion, it confers on students a bachelor's degree in a liberal
arts area, K-8 teacher certification, and 33 earned credit hours
toward a Masters of Science degree in education with a concentration
in teaching and learning.
A unique feature of the TEAMS Program is that it prepares students
to teach science and mathematics, areas where there is currently
a shortage of teachers in the elementary and middle schools of
the state. This strong foundation in science and mathematics is
achieved through coursework that exceeds university and state
requirements: students are required to successfully complete three
mathematics content courses as well as three science content courses
with laboratory experiences. Courses have been specifically developed
which integrate the study of the disciplines of mathematics and
the sciences with courses in education that enhance the understanding
in those disciplines. Computer-based technology is also incorporated
throughout the program to help teacher education students develop
understanding and facility with technology as an important tool
for learning and teaching.
The Mission of TEAMS
The mission of the TEAMS Program is based on key concepts as
articulated by the National Network for Educational Renewal Agenda
(Goodlad, 1994). The following is a description of the key concepts
that act as guiding principles for the TEAMS Program and how they
relate the program's mission:
- University Collaboration with Partner Schools: For the effective
delivery of the TEAMS Program, a partnership has been established
with five schools (3 elementary schools and 2 middle schools)
across three school districts in the Southern Maine area. These
schools are used for field placements
and internship sited for TEAMS students. The faculty in these
schools work with university faculty and share the responsibility
for preparing the next generation of teachers.
- Stewardship: Teachers are stewards for the healthy development
of students, and they must consistently model those virtues advocated
for compassionate and active citizens. The TEAMS Program aims
to foster preservice teachers' sense of stewardship by educating
them about their role in preparing the next generation for citizenship
in a democratic society.
- Simultaneous Renewal: The TEAMS Program and its partner schools
are engaged in an effort to continuously improve what they do.
The TEAMS Program and its partner schools aim to work together
and share their talents so that the students served by each educational
setting reap benefits. Each organization is simultaneously renewed
as they work together to improve what they do.
- Nurturing Pedagogy: TEAMS Program faculty members teach in
ways that both enrich and encourage students. The way they engage
learners, the activities they plan and conduct, and the feedback
they give students are all designed to help students attain high
expectations and to encourage them toward continued learning.
- Equal Access to Equitable Educational Opportunities: The TEAMS
Program faculty believes that all children deserve a schooling
experience that helps them reach their potential and welcomes
them into full participation in a democratic society by providing
the knowledge and skills needed for successful citizenship.
In addition to these foundational principles, an important feature
of the program is that students participate as members of a learning
community. Beginning with the first year and continuing throughout
the program, students participate in educational coursework and
field experiences as a cohort group. The learning community culture
serves to support students in understanding the
aims, principles, and practices of education as a discipline
and teaching as a professional activity. In this endeavor, cohort
members also act as important resources for one another during
their process of learning to teach and teaching to learn.
The Three Phases of TEAMS: Combining Courses and Fieldwork
The TEAMS Program has three distinct phases through which the
students progress. The three levels are pre-candidacy, candidacy,
Pre-candidacy begins upon admission to the program. For students
who enter as freshman, this phase is six semesters in length.
Students complete USM Core Curriculum requirements, courses in
their selected major in the College of Arts and Sciences, and
the undergraduate level education courses and field experiences
that the TEAMS Program requires. Students focus on developing
basic competencies in the liberal arts and in math and science.
In addition, they complete work in an academic major and take
one education course each semester. With the exception of a social
foundation course, all of the education courses have a weekly
seminar and a 24-hour a semester field experience.
During the second semester of the program, students have their
first field experience as a part of a Children's Literature course.
The seminar and field experience for children's literature provides
students with the opportunity to learn about and work with children
on literacy development.
The third semester course in the TEAMS Program focuses on the
relationship between culture, community and schooling. Here field
placements occur in the greater Portland area and include Head
Start, Before and After School programs, community programs for
adolescents, and local resource programs for individuals with
low income status. Students have ample opportunities to analyze
and reflect on the understanding of their own culture as it relates
to the understanding of others' cultures. This course supports
TEAMS students in reflecting upon related field experiences as
they explore and develop culturally responsive teaching practices.
In the fourth semester, academic and fieldwork are combined in
a course in Middle School Community that addresses issues of culture
and community in a specific middle level context.
Students are assigned to a host teacher at one of the middle
school partner schools in order to gain classroom experience with
middle school students. The fieldwork combines participant observation
with classroom teacher responsibilities. Additionally, seminars
on-site at middle schools that include tours of the school and
presentations by students, teachers, and administrators, provide
an opportunity for students to learn more about the context of
different middle schools as well as middle level learners.
In the fifth semester, students take the course, Theoretical
Foundations of Learning, which examines theories of learning and
their application to teaching and learning practices. This course
includes a field experience that includes participant observation
as well as opportunities for developing and teaching learning
In the sixth and final semester of the program, students take
Portfolio Development, a course that prepares students for their
Candidacy Review. Through Candidacy Review, all TEAMS students
demonstrate readiness for and commitment to the demands of teaching
as a career. Through the development and presentation of his/her
portfolio, the TEAMS student must show evidence that their knowledge
and disposition is developing satisfactorily according to the
College of Education and Human Development Teaching Standard.
The Candidacy Review is both a formative and summative process
that leads to a judgment about a candidate's progress in the program.
The review is designed to assure TEAMS students and other constituents
that candidates have demonstrated the prerequisite knowledge and
dispositions before progressing to the second phase of the program.
The Review is designed as a positive and constructive learning
experience where each student has the opportunity to present,
synthesize, answer questions, utilize technology, integrate, prepare
materials, reflect, make connections, and receive feedback from
university and partner school faculty. Through the Review, students
provide evidence that they are making satisfactory progress toward
completing the liberal arts and science major and they are eligible
to progress to the internship.
More specifically, they present evidence that they are progressing
toward meeting the first six of Teaching Standards (See Shank,
Canniff, & Ross above). These are:
1. Knowledge of Child/Adolescent Development and Principles of
The teacher demonstrates respect, concern for children, and an
understanding of how they continue to develop and learn. S/he
uses this knowledge to plan and guide instruction and to create
a challenging, supportive learning environment.
2. Knowledge of Subject Matter and Inquiry: The teacher understands
the framework of the subject matter(s) s/he teaches and makes
accessible to students the discipline's tools of inquiry, central
concepts, internal structure, and connections to other domains
of knowledge, in a manner that promotes the learner's independent
3. Technology: The teacher demonstrates an understanding of technology
operations; enhances his/her productivity and professional practice
using technology; understands the social, legal and ethical issues
surrounding the use of technology; plans and designs effective
learning environments supported by technology; implements curriculum
plans that include methods and strategies for applying technology
to enhance student learning; and applies technology to facilitate
a variety of effective assessment and evaluation strategies. (NETS)
4. Diversity and Cultural Responsiveness: The teacher models
respect for cultural and individual differences among students
and coworkers including race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation,
learning style, age, religion, socioeconomic status and ability/disability.
S/he selects instructional materials from a variety of cultural
perspectives and plans and creates learning opportunities and
assessments that attend to issues of diversity and cultural responsiveness
and ensure access and equity for all students.
5. Beliefs About Teaching and Learning: The teacher clearly communicates
his/her beliefs about learning, teaching, assessment, and the
role of education in society, and demonstrates practices that
support those beliefs.
6. Collaboration and Professionalism: The teacher demonstrates
professional responsibility to school and community. S/he works
collaboratively with colleagues, parents, and community members
to improve the conditions of learning for all students and adults.
Candidacy is the shortest phase of the program and lasts for
one semester. Students are eligible for internship placement upon
completion of candidacy. In this phase, students complete the
academic major and a course in Exceptionality. The Exceptionality
course builds upon students' experiences and knowledge about the
diversity of learners and ways to promote a positive learning
environment for all students. In the 24-hour field experience
students work with students identified with special needs.
The Full Year Graduate Internship earns TEAMS students 33 credit
hours toward their master's degree in Education: Teaching and
Learning. As a part of the graduate level internship, students
complete two semester long placements in TEAMS partner schools.
Since their certification is K-8, one placement is at the elementary
level and the other is at the middle level. As the culminating
year of the program, TEAMS students have the greatest responsibility
for teaching, with full-time teaching in a partner school expected
across much of the year. Throughout the internship year, TEAMS
students focus on learning to balance classroom teacher responsibilities
of creating a caring classroom environment conducive to learning
with teaching multiple disciplines.
Concurrent to their internship placements, they complete professional
coursework in math, science, literacy, and social studies. The
mathematics methods course is based on the standards of the National
Council on the Teaching of Mathematics and involves students in
developing their abilities in learning and teaching mathematics.
The course emphasizes a problem-solving approach, an orientation
to disciplinary inquiry in mathematics, and the use of technology
as a learning tool. The science methods course is based on the
National Standards in Science Education and involves students
in developing their own understanding in science (particularly
in the physical and earth sciences, areas in which elementary
school teachers feel least prepared to teach), as well as developing
an inquiry-oriented approach to teaching. The courses focused
on literacy introduce them to strategies for teaching reading
and writing. The social studies methods course focuses on the
disciplines of history, geography, sociology and cultural anthropology.
In this course, students explore the disciplines of the social
sciences and learn how to help young children use original artifacts
to learn about and interpret other cultures and other times.
The internship year also includes a weekly seminar that supports
TEAMS students in discussing and reflecting upon their classroom
experiences. The seminar is specifically geared to support students
in systematically analyzing their practice. TEAMS students are
expected to be able to critically reflect upon their practice
with respect to the challenges that they face and the repertoire
of effective teacher attributes which they bring to addressing
those challenges, including the role of systematic reflection
in facilitating learning from one's practice.
Students continue to demonstrate evidence toward the first six
Teaching Standards used for Candidacy Review while demonstrating
evidence toward the additional 6 Teaching Standards:
7. Instructional Planning: The teacher consistently plans and
evaluates instruction based on knowledge of the learner, the subject
matter, the community, the intended student outcomes, instructional
strategies and representations, and the curriculum.
8. Instructional Strategies: The teacher understands and uses
a variety of teaching strategies and tools, to promote learning
and independent inquiry for all students.
9. Assessment: The teacher enhances and documents learning through
continuing use of formal and informal assessment strategies, communicates
feedback, and promotes guided self-evaluation in learners.
10. Citizenship: The teacher understands principles of democratic
community and plans instruction to promote ideals, values, and
practices of citizenship.
11. Professional Development: The teacher recognizes that s/he
is, above all, a learner. S/he continually reflects on and evaluates
choices and actions, and seeks out opportunities for professional
development as well as ways to improve teaching and learning.
12. Classroom Management: The teacher understands and implements
classroom management techniques that support individual responsibility
and the principles of democratic community.
Progress towards meeting all 12 of the standards is evaluated
during goal setting at the beginning of each placement, mid-placement,
and at the end of each placement.
Since TEAMS is a partnership program, both university and partner
school faculty are responsible for evaluating students' progress
in relation to these standards. TEAMS uses the same assessment
set as ETEP. These assessments include a case study or classroom
profile, a reflective teaching journal, two teaching units, a
professional vision or platform statement, an action research
project, and a professional portfolio with a final presentation/exhibition.
Success in these assessments during professional internship in
partner schools results in a recommendation for a K-8 teaching
certificate in the State of Maine.
Changes over Time
Three years after its inception, a major redesign took place
in the TEAMS program that was related to when students could be
admitted into the program and the advising of students during
their program. In the original design, 20-25 first year undergraduates
were admitted into the program each year and this group of students
created a cohort that progressed through the program together.
Each incoming cohort was assigned to a TEAMS faculty member who
advised the cohort, taught the specific field-based TEAMS course
to the cohort each semester, and mentored the cohort during their
internship year. Several issues arose as this design was implemented.
The attrition rate of students withdrawing from the TEAMS program
was quite high for various reasons. Some TEAMS students discovered,
through the early education courses and field placement experiences,
that teaching was not the appropriate career for them.
Some TEAMS students were not able to successfully negotiate the
rigorous nature of the combination of TEAMS courses and field
experiences, core curriculum coursework, and the liberal arts
major. Some TEAMS students left the program for personal reasons
such as relocation, marriage, and limited financial resources.
Although faculty members who became TEAMS advisors discovered
many rewards and benefits in advising, teaching, and mentoring
a cohort of TEAMS students, there were challenges in teaching
a new course each semester and problem-solving the logistics and
issues relating to the implementation of a new program. Thus,
it was decided that the TEAMS program would be redesigned to include
admitting students into the program any time during their first
two undergraduate years. In addition to the 20-25 first year undergraduate
cohort of students who are admitted into the program, both internal
and external transfers with less than 50 earned credits are admitted
into the program in the pre-candidacy phase. After a transcript
analysis, transfer students are placed into the specific cohort
that best meets their academic needs. These students often need
to take two TEAMS courses per semester to complete the TEAMS coursework
required before candidacy. As a result of this change in the program
and to meet the program needs of the students, the internship
year may begin in January for some students and in September for
other students. The redesign of TEAMS also involved a change in
the responsibilities of a TEAMS faculty advisor.
It was decided that the TEAMS students would benefit from having
learning experiences with numerous faculty members; thus, the
TEAMS faculty currently teach one or two TEAMS courses that are
the best fit with their expertise. TEAMS students are assigned
a faculty member as an advisor when they are admitted into the
program and this faculty member continues to advise them throughout
New Program Initiatives
Over the past four years, TEAMS has benefited from a $4 million,
five year Maine Mathematics and Science Teaching Excellence Collaborative
(MMSTEC) grant funded by the National Science Foundation. This
grant has provided scholarships for TEAMS students who choose
mathematics or science as their liberal arts major or minor. In
addition to the scholarships, the grant funded curriculum design
work for a General Contract Science major with a life science,
physical science, or earth science concentration. This major was
designed by the MMSTEC Steering Committee in collaboration with
TEAMS faculty to specifically meet the needs of elementary and/or
middle schoolteachers of science.
Currently, there are increasing numbers of TEAMS students who
are choosing this General Contract science major due to its availability
and viability as an appropriate major for the TEAMS program. In
collaboration with faculty members from the College of Arts and
Science, the TEAMS faculty is exploring the possibility of the
implementation of a Liberal Studies major with a 24 concentration
in one academic area. This Liberal Studies major would have the
potential of providing TEAMS students with more breadth in knowledge
and understanding in liberal arts as well as more depth in at
least one specific liberal arts area. TEAMS faculty are also collaborating
with CEHD faculty from the Special Education programs to explore
options for how special education courses and practicum might
be integrated into the TEAMS curriculum so that TEAMS students
who have an interest in pursuing certification in Special Education
may be afforded that opportunity.
Goodlad, J. I. (1994). Educational renewal: Better teachers, better schools. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.