Authors: Sarah Beal (US PREP), Sarah Cohen (NCTR), Anne Douglas-Rowald (IC4EP), Francesca Forzani (TeachingWorks), Erika Abelon and Erin Gehant (NYCDOE), Cassandra Herring (BranchED) and Carlos Villagrana (CTAPP)
Teachers matter, and so does their preparation. It’s a tall order to provide quality preparation for the roughly 100,000 teachers hired each year in the US, but we have ample reason for optimism. Why? Because we work every day alongside preparation program leaders across the country who inspire us. They inspire us with their passion for excellence, their commitment to equity, and their ability to manage complex change while never once losing sight of their vision for training the next generation of teachers who can help our students soar.
In this new blog series, these leaders will tell their stories. They hail from seven networks of teacher preparation programs we help facilitate—Branch Alliance for Educator Diversity, Center for Transforming Alternative Preparation Pathways (CTAPP), Innovation Center for Educator Preparation (IC4EP), National Center for Teacher Residencies (NCTR), New York City Department of Education, TeachingWorks, and University-School Partnerships for the Renewal of Educator Preparation (US PREP)—that are working together to transform the way teachers are prepared. The stories will cover a lot of ground, highlighting efforts, unfolding nationwide, across a range of program and community contexts with a range of teacher candidates. Together, the blogs will sound six themes that are at the core of this network’s efforts:
Equity and diversity are embedded in how we define impact and how we deliver programming to teacher candidates. All of our programs are working towards the end goal of ensuring that a diverse pool of teacher candidates are ready to teach all students, with a focus on serving Black, Latino and low-income students. And they are figuring out how to make the nuts and bolts of programming—from curriculum to practice and feedback to student teacher placements—knit together to facilitate that goal.
Quality preparation programming is sustainable and delivered to all. These programs aren’t developing boutique experiences for a select few. They are doing the tough work of reallocating existing resources to bring strong preparation experiences to all teacher candidates, every year.
Teacher candidates build competency through practice. Practice-based preparation is at the core of quality teacher preparation. Teacher candidates need frequent opportunities to practice teaching and receive feedback on their performance.
Data anchors preparation program improvements. To get better, our program leaders collect data about their offerings, teacher educators and teacher candidates to identify strengths, gaps and trends. And then they regularly share those data with school district partners to help schools and programs work together to strengthen candidate preparation.
Teacher educators matter. If we want excellent teachers, we need excellent instructors training them. Our programs support teacher educators to use high-leverage practices and pedagogies such as video analysis and rehearsal as their novice teachers become excellent at their craft.
Partnerships with K12 systems are key. Teacher preparation programs cannot live in isolation. Well beyond placing student teachers in local schools, our programs deeply engage, understand and support their surrounding communities and school systems.
We think their stories will inspire you, too. First up: Nadine Gilbert will pen a few posts about the work she’s helped lead at Jackson State University. Later in 2020, we’ll feature stories from Brian Sevier at California State University, Channel Islands; Susan Baker at Sacramento State University and Kellee Watkins and Nakeshia Williams at North Carolina A&T State University. Watch for Nadine’s first post in the next few weeks, and let your colleagues know about the series. In the meantime, feel free to send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and sign up for our email list below. We’ll be using #teacherprepmatters to spread the word, and invite you to do the same!