International visitors to get an inside look at teacher education program

Participants will observe classes, meet with students and faculty, and visit K-12 partner schools in East Palo Alto, Redwood City, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale and Woodside.

Teacher educators from Chile, Hong Kong, India and Norway are convening on campus today for a weeklong institute designed to share the principles and practices of successful teacher education developed at Stanford.

More than a dozen people from Catholic University in Chile, the Ministry of Education in Hong Kong, the Azim Premji Foundation in India and the University of Oslo in Norway are expected to take part in the Feb. 22-26 program, known as the Inquiry into the Stanford Teacher Education Program Institute.

"The idea for it came about because we constantly get requests from teacher education programs, both nationally and internationally, to come and find out about the Stanford Teacher Education Program," said Rachel Lotan, the education professor who developed the institute, which is being held for the first time.

The Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP) is consistently recognized as one of the top teacher education programs in the nation; it places graduate students in local elementary, middle and high schools to learn from a mentor teacher, lead class lessons and gain classroom experience.

"One of the things we’re going to look at is how Stanford's teacher education program provides a very close connection between theory and practice," Lotan said.

During the institute, participants will observe teacher education classes at Stanford and review the class syllabi and reading assignments. They will visit local K-12 partner schools to observe Stanford teacher candidates at work, and sit in on meetings between supervisors and teacher candidates. They also will develop agendas, timelines and a support network for implementing action plans.

"The intent of the institute is to demonstrate how our campus program puts in place some powerful principles for effective teacher education," Lotan said.

The participants include representatives of the Azim Premji Foundation, which is working to improve primary education in India. The nonprofit organization plans to establish a university in Bangalore and wants to start with a strong teacher education program, Lotan said.

The vice-rector of the University of Oslo is also taking part in the institute.

The speakers at the weeklong institute include Deborah Stipek, the I. James Quillen Endowed Dean of the Stanford University School of Education; Lee Shulman, the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education, Emeritus; Linda Darling-Hammond, the Charles E. Ducommun Professor in the School of Education; and Sam Wineburg, Claude Goldenberg and Ray McDermott, professors of education.

Following the week at Stanford, participants will share their insights, struggles and success in an online format. Program administrators will track participating groups' progress to improve next year’s institute.

The institute, which includes materials, seminars, visits to local schools, an opening Sunday dinner and a closing Friday luncheon, will cost each participant $2,500.

Christine Blackman is a science-writing intern at the Stanford News Service.