Effective programs preparing teachers of mathematics at the early childhood level provide clinical experiences specific to mathematics focused on children’s mathematical thinking and mathematics instruction with diverse learners in preschool and primary settings. [Elaboration of P.1 and P.4]
Experiences in both preschool and primary settings include “field observations, field work, practica, student teaching and other 'clinical' practice experiences such as home visiting” (NAEYC, 2012, Initial and Advanced Standards). These experiences provide opportunities for systematic inquiry into classroom practice under the supervision of licensed professionals with the intention of preparing teachers of young children who develop nurturing, responsive relationships with children and families. Additional recommendations can be found in Standard 3.4. Opportunities to Learn in Clinical Settings.
Effective programs benefit from developing partner schools that host groups of teacher candidates, pairing them with cooperating teachers who are willing to share their classroom practices in ways that benefit learning for the young learners, the teacher candidates, and the cooperating teachers themselves. Such a setting provides a space for close examination of instructional practice as highlighted in Vignette 4.3. Teacher candidate/cooperating teacher teams collaboratively plan, teach, and debrief lessons on the basis of student data (Rigelman & Ruben, 2012). When purposefully designed, the clinical experiences can be explicitly linked to the mathematics methods coursework to narrow the theory-practice gap lamented by many teacher educators (Darling-Hammond & Bransford, 2007). These strong partnerships provide space for preservice and in-service teacher learning in support of improved mathematics learning for children.