By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)–Dr. Debi Mink, professor of elementary education, has received the 2020 National Clinical Practice Fellowship from the Association of Teacher Educators (ATE) and the National Association for Professional Development Schools (NAPDS).
The award will help the IU Southeast School of Education strengthen its clinical practice program.
Clinical Practice Fellows attend a national symposium during which they network with one another, share research and teaching interests, and
develop school-university partnerships as a part of teacher education programs , according to the NAPDS.
The next National Clinical Fellows Symposium will be held in Atlantic City, New Jersey in February 2020.
Improving clinical practice has been Mink’s primary focus long before she joined IU Southeast five years ago.
“It has always been my belief that field or clinical experiences in teacher education are just as important as those in the education of medical professionals,” Mink said.
When she arrived, students spent 30 hours observing classrooms in their first three semesters, and 300 hours student teaching. Today, sophomores and juniors spend 200 hours observing and–most importantl–teaching lessons in math, reading, social studies and science, and over 600 hours are spent teaching in their student teaching experience.
This improvement is down to Mink and her colleagues who doggedly researched the best fully accredited clinical programs around the country, and developing a workable program themselves.
You can’t have a clinical program without clinics. So Mink and her colleagues set about establishing partnerships with local schools.Where just five years ago no formal relationships existed, the School of Education now has partnerships with 18 schools in New Albany Floyd, West Clark and Greater Clark School Corporations and eight schools in Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) in Kentucky. Sudent teachers are currently active in 66 different school settings.
For Mink, this is a good beginning, but she envisions a more formalized relationship built on the professional development schools (PDS) model.
“A PDS model would include model classrooms in P-12 schools, a university professor in residence at the school, teachers, administrators and professors working side by side to better the education of each student in both educational settings,” Mink said.
For now, the fellowship can provide steps in that direction.
Mink’s goals for the fellowship are precise and interconnected. She wants to improve both student academic achievement in partner schools (by improving teacher effectiveness), and professional learning for faculty in the schools and universities, including teacher candidates.
She also wants to strengthen the reform of curriculum for teacher candidates, and increase support for new teachers in high-need school districts through increased mentoring and high-quality induction programs.
“I am certainly so honored and excited to be chosen, but this fellowship is not about me,” Mink said. “This fellowship is about helping children in the local schools reach academic success, helping our teacher candidates to be the very best teachers they can be, and helping the IU Southeast School of Education’s elementary education program become the ‘flagship’ that we’ve dreamed it could be.”