Degrees & Programs

Graduate Community of Teachers

Seminar

Seminar

The Seminar, comprised of 15 - 18 teacher candidates and one faculty coordinator, replaces most of the standard professional education coursework. Indiana state law requires that candidates complete the content methods course(s) for each major and a reading methods course. The content of the Seminar emphasizes intellectual, personal, and social growth. It is more closely aligned with the content of practicing teachers' discussions because both are based on real classroom experiences. The theoretical underpinnings of the Seminar are those of Communities of Practice.

You will enroll in the Seminar every semester, the minimum tenure in the group being two (2) semesters. The groups' members are at different stages of professional preparation, making the groups what might be termed a "rolling cohort". The faculty coordinator works with teacher candidates throughout their preparation. Each Seminar leader, in collaboration with her Seminar group, establishes a sequence of semester-long themes, each centering on a common reading list and appropriate field-based projects.

Seminars meet each Tuesday for a three-hour late afternoon or evening session. Teacher candidates are responsible for setting the agenda, leading most sessions, and solving problems by consensus. Because the relationship is long-term, each Seminar group actively recruits and interviews prospective members. Recruitment activities focus on new teacher candidates who will expand the groups' ethnic, cultural, and racial diversity, improve its gender balance, broaden its subject matter specialities, or expand the age ranges and world views of their members. New CoTers are invited to visit different seminars prior to enrollment and express any preference they have about which seminar(s) may best fit their needs. The program strives to balance these preferences with the needs of each Seminar when assigning new candidates. As a result of their close association over time, CoTers often form lifelong relationships with their faculty coordinators, their Mentor Teachers in the field, and their colleagues in their seminar groups.

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CoT Seminars are primarily discussion forums. On a given day, discussions might focus on that semester's theme, on problems individuals are encountering in the field, and on alternative strategies for satisfying Program Expectations. A key premise of the program is that teacher candidates are responsible for devising and conducting their own professional preparation. The leader's role is to aid and support that process, but in the final analysis, the teacher candidates is responsible for the shape and quality of his education. A major activity of each Seminar is a process not unlike group advising or group problem-solving; the leader and fellow teacher candidates try to help each member solve the many problems of directing one's own education, helping the teacher candidate locate resources and avoid pitfalls.

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The power of the Seminar is its potential to develop in teacher candidates what has been called pedagogical knowledge. As teacher candidates discuss the problems of teaching and of schools -- the very problems that they are encountering in their ongoing work in schools -- they develop a rich understanding of their complexity and potential for improvement.

Teacher candidates' pedagogical knowledge is developed, in part, as seminar members design the theme they will study in the subsequent semester. Typically, toward the end of a semester, a group will begin exploring possible topics and settle on one of them. Then the activities, common reading, and projects or assignments are negotiated. Individual sessions within the Seminar theme are also conceived by Seminar participants and then led, collectively, by one or two members with the guidance and support of the faculty coordinator and occasionally the other members of the group.