What is PDS?
In order to receive an initial teaching certificate in Illinois, you must complete a student teaching component. Illinois State University offers two different methods to complete this requirement. Regardless of which option you choose, the requirements are the same for each program.
One method is the 16-week placement, where the teacher candidate is responsible for guiding, directing, and evaluating the learning activities of a group of pupils under the guidance and supervision of professionally certified and competent members of the teaching profession for 16 weeks.
The other option is interning at a Professional Development School (PDS) for two semesters. The PDS program offers senior teacher education students majoring in early childhood, elementary, elementary bilingual, middle level, and secondary education at Illinois State University a 32-week (2 semester) experience in a public school. The goal of the program is to provide professional growth of all participants through the simultaneous improvement of both schools and teacher education through collaborative partnerships between Illinois State teacher education programs and school districts throughout Illinois.
As a Professional Development School teacher candidate, you will:
Complete your ISU coursework at the PDS site
An exciting feature of the PDS program is the extended clinical experience provided to teacher candidates at the respective sites. As a Professional Development School teacher candidate, you will complete your clinical semester university coursework at the respective PDS sites. Typically, teacher candidates complete coursework two or three days each week and then work in their assigned classrooms during the other two or three days each week. As a teacher candidate, you will also be able to observe multiple grade levels and attend staff meetings and in-service workshops with your mentor teacher. There may be special projects related to the school district you are assigned to throughout the year.
- Apply your classroom learning immediately
Throughout your PDS internship, you will be able to experience a variety of classrooms. During the first semester of the program, you will become acquainted with the school and teaching staff. You will co-teach will your mentor teacher, teaching the lessons that have been directed from the methods classes in which you participate.
During the second semester of the program, you will assume responsibility for planning and instruction as a student teacher. You will also be able to attend workshops, seminars, and conferences to continue your professional development.
Each PDS program is unique. To learn details of a particular site program, please contact the PDS program director.
- Feel like a second-year teacher
A two semester PDS experience provides teacher candidates with a more complete understanding of schools and pedagogy. As a result, your level of confidence is enhanced as you begin the process of interviewing for your first full-time teaching position.
- Impact the success of partnership schools
By participating in the Professional Development School Program, you engage in the simultaneous renewal that is necessary for the betterment of the education process. You are given the unique opportunity to experience best practice methodology at both the university level and the district level and to provide a bridge between theory and practice. Through collaborative efforts with your mentor teachers and university instructors, you impact the students' success in the respective placement schools.
- Work with faculty and students from diverse backgrounds
More than one-third of our nation's children come from minority backgrounds and this number is growing all of the time. At Illinois State University, our teacher education programs are based on Realizing the Democratic Ideal, and as a result are committed to training teachers who can help all students learn. Most of our PDS sites are in diverse school settings, providing you with the opportunity to work with faculty and students representing all walks of life. You will work with faculty and peers who have dispositions that value and respect differences. Your experience will be rich and inspiring and you will be able to take it with you as you embark upon your career.
- Be supported by district personnel and university personnel
Mentor teachers are committed and caring professionals who are carefully identified as strong role models for teacher candidates. Each teacher candidate is assigned a mentor teacher to assist him or her in completing the requirements of the PDS experience. Your mentor teacher will be your teammate, coach, and confidante, helping you to transition from student to professional.
Site coordinators/university liaisons help to oversee the PDS experience on behalf of the university for some of the programs. These outstanding professionals identify mentor teachers, assist students with the completion of the university requirements, serve as the link between the district and the university, and also serve as mentor to teacher candidates throughout the process. The site coordinator/university liaison often teaches one of the clinical semester courses.
- Be part of a strong, professional cohort
In the PDS program, you work with a cohort of teacher candidates at your assigned site. You will all begin the school year together, take classes together, student teach together and graduate together. In fact, you will make the transition from student to teacher together. You are part of a small group that grows together over the year. You make new friends and build bonds with people who will be professional peers for years.
- Live on campus, at home, or rent an apartment
You are responsible for arranging and providing your own housing and transportation during your PDS experience. There are many locations available for the PDS experience. The location of some sites will allow you to continue living on campus. If the PDS site is near your hometown, you may choose to move to your hometown for your senior year. If the PDS site is not near your home, you must secure your own living arrangements. Many of the PDS sites have taken steps to identify safe, affordable, and convenient housing.
- Get to know the community
At Illinois State University we realize that it takes a community to educate a teacher. We have developed PDS sites in conjunction with school districts as well as communities. We believe that the more partners that we bring to the table, the better experience you will have.
We encourage you to learn about, and participate in, the community in which your PDS site operates. Each community has its own unique flavor which enriches the PDS experience. From local apartment agencies to dining establishments, each PDS has many community partners involved in educating teachers. The PDS communities are ready to welcome you to their towns.
Partnerships have been formed with many schools or districts and the program continues to grow to offer a variety of settings for the teacher candidate.