TREND Spring 2020 - Page 10

to touch on issues such as legal and professional development while catering to student teachers with specific content such as planning assistance, classroom management, and an introduction to our Career Center to help teacher candidates to find future employment. Policymakers should invest much more time and resources into learning about the science of teaching and how individual teachers actually develop their skillset - and how long it takes to develop some of those skills - and what changes are needed. Policies currently reflect the fact that we know far more about a teacher after they enter the classroom than before. Important benchmarks that we should look at besides program completion are data on those who actually enter the field of education and teach, as well as those who remain for several years. However, change may be on the horizon for the profession. A NEW MODEL The University of Michigan is making some interesting changes, and moving to end the longtime practice of sending educators into their classrooms after just a few months of student teaching. Elizabeth Moje, dean of the school of education at the University of Michigan, is offering an innovative method, based on the way doctors are trained, that will extend teacher training through their first three years on the job, supporting them as they take on the daunting responsibility of educating children. The teacher intern program at Michigan would be the first dramatic upheaval in the way teachers are trained in this country in at least a generation - an upheaval that has been a long time coming. In a nutshell, the new approach is like a teaching hospital, where future teachers - called interns - will train together under a single roof. They will complete their student teaching there. Then, instead of heading out in search of a job in another school, they will stay on for three more years as full-time, fully certified teaching “residents.” Residents won’t be trainees. They will be real classroom teachers working with real children and making a real salary - the same as any other first-, second-, or third-year teacher. But, unlike their peers in traditional schools, they will continue to learn from their professors and will work closely with the veteran teachers - called attendings - who will make up most of the school’s teaching staff. This innovative solutions is one that Professional Educators of Tennessee has been working on with the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System (CMCSS). The district, in partnership with Austin Peay State University (APSU), has a cohort of 40 future teachers who will earn a free bachelor’s degree in only three years, become dual certified in a critical shortage area plus special education, and participate in a multi-year residency experience while being a full-time employed paraprofessional earning a salary, health insurance, and retirement contributions. In addition, the district plans to partner with Lipscomb University to offer up to 20 future teachers a licensure program that includes a one-year full- time paid residency and dual certification (K-5 and special education) at no cost to the teacher. Through this initiative, these future teachers will also earn a master’s degree in this partnership between Lipscomb and the district. This solution will likely be replicated by districts across the state. Cathy Kolb, state president of Professional Educators of Tennessee, has long advocated for and assists with the program to recruit and retain educators into public education classrooms. “We believe it is a win- win for our district and our students,” Kolb advises. I would echo the words of CMCSS Chief Academic Officer Sean Impeartrice, “This is the future of teacher recruitment and preparation.” Kolb believes this effort will help “ensure that quality educators enter and remain in the profession in the future.” This is also a critical part of the agenda that Tennessee Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn wants to see expanded. Schwinn stated, “If you want to be an educator, you should be in Tennessee. We now have districts where you can get paid to become a teacher, graduate debt free and be better prepared by spending multiple years in a residency under the mentorship of a great classroom leader,” stated Schwinn. “I look forward to replicating this innovative “Grow Your Own” model across the state.”