6 ways to modernize teacher-preparation programs

4. How can the K-12 and higher education systems collaborate to ensure that teacher candidates can transition seamlessly from higher education institutions into a learner-centered classroom where personalizes learning for each student includes rigorous content delivered through technology in a collaborative environment?

“If the starting point of the conversation is about how to recruit and retain better prepared teachers for this community, then the two institutions can develop some shared strategies with shared accountability, such as:

  • Clinical experiences during teacher prep;
  • Recruitment pipelines/agreements for earlier hiring and orientation; Induction for first-year teacher teachers or teachers needing support when assignments change;
  • Selecting and overseeing mentoring relationships;
  • Development of collegial support;
  • Integration of new teachers into the school and community;
  • Online communities that engage current, mentor, and future teachers; and
  • Alumni support groups for teachers placed from partnering higher education institutions.”

– Tom Carroll, president of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF)

5. When it comes to teacher preparation, there are “traditional” and “alternative” routes to certification. Should teacher-preparation programs be different for each of the two groups of teacher candidates?

“For candidates to truly be prepared for the educational needs of students, both traditional and alternative programs should incorporate several key elements. In a recent Center for Teaching Quality publication, Teaching 2030: Leveraging Teacher Preparation 2.0, several master teachers and other experts articulate core components for teacher-preparation programs. These include, but are not limited to, residencies in real teaching and learning environments that are cohort based; interdisciplinary education; competency- and performance-based assessments and progressions; and face-to-face and online collaboration.

“Programs that address these core components may look very different, but they can all strive to provide a rich experience for candidates that allow them to grow in their content knowledge, pedagogy, and application of instructional strategies.

“An underlying message in this set of components is that content knowledge, learning about pedagogy without practicing strategies, and reflecting without a cohort of peers and experts are not enough by themselves. However, programs that allow candidates to develop this set of skills and knowledge, while allowing them to learn and reflect with a cohort and apply strategies in a real-world setting, will much better prepare candidates for the teaching profession.”

– Dr. Mary Ann Wolf, president of WolfEd

6. It seems as though institutions of higher education are often playing catch-up, in that they are constantly reacting to new policies and practices in K-12 education by integrating them into existing structures. What concrete steps can be taken now to get ahead of the curve in this area?

“Communication and collaboration with local education agencies (LEAs), district and school leaders, practicing educators, and policymakers are both critical for teacher-preparation programs to ensure that they are preparing candidates for the education systems they will become part of and the roles of the teacher that they will be asked to fill. This communication and collaboration can benefit the districts, policymakers, and teacher-preparation programs by ensuring alignment with policies that direct the teacher certification requirements, preparation experiences, and day-to-day realist and expectations of the K-12 schools.

“Progressive teacher-preparation programs are working with LEAs to develop programs that make sense; collaborate during teacher-preparation residencies and into the induction period; and provide and solicit feedback on the performance of program graduates.” – Dr. Mary Ann Wolf

For more responses to these questions for other notable experts, as well as more information about teacher-preparation programs and ELL, read the report.

Meris Stansbury

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