An innovative teacher education program in Ontario is encouraging teachers to enter the profession with a "school improvement mentality."
For most student teachers, the essence of becoming a teacher is developing competence and confidence in individual classroom teaching (Wideen 1988). Since the early 1980s, however, the ideal has shifted from individual teacher expertise toward professional community expertise—teachers jointly defining goals and taking responsibility for all students' progress, engaging in ongoing inquiry and experimentation, and assuming leadership in school development (Fullan and Hargreaves 1996; Seashore-Louis, Kruse, and Associates 1995). Trends toward decentralization, site-based management, and collaborative work cultures are creating a context in which teachers working together is becoming the norm. We believe that teacher preparation should be redesigned to prepare beginning teachers for this new environment.
The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto, in partnership with the North York and Metropolitan Toronto Separate School Districts, began a two-year, teacher education pilot program in 1995 that incorporates a school improvement project into beginning teacher preparation. One of the key aims of the program is to prepare preservice teachers not only for their responsibilities in the classroom, but also for their future role as collaborators with colleagues to make schools better places for living and learning.
The School Improvement Project