Partnerships like the ones we've developed don't happen on their own. It takes time, energy, and intentional action to grow meaningful partnerships, but the pay-off is well worth it. Teacher education programs that are disconnected from local schools are doing a disservice to the local and global education community. We all have much to learn from others, and we each have a lot to offer others as well. To that effect, below are a few of the ways we're partnering with local schools to build a stronger teacher education program and contribute to the local education community.
MAT Task ForceWe are in the process of developing curriculum for a new Master of Arts in Teaching program. The program is unique in several ways, such as a required year-long full-time residency in a local school. We've put together a Task Force which consists of School of Education faculty and local school- and district-level folks. Our school partners on the Task Force have a wealth of experience and expertise in curriculum, instruction, professional development, and administration. We're building this program from the ground up, and the input of our local school partners has been extremely influential.
MAT Advisory BoardOur MAT Advisory Board is made up of School of Education faculty, school and district administrators from the three school districts in our county, and representatives from the business community. This board serves the purpose of guiding and providing feedback on the direction of our MAT program. The administrators serving on this board will be hosting MAT residents in their schools, so their feedback is crucial to ensuring that our program is meeting the needs of our students and local schools.
Field ExperiencesThe cornerstone of our teacher education program is field experience is local schools. These experiences are essential for pre-service teachers to apply concepts and skills they've learned in their coursework in authentic settings. There is much knowledge about how to be a teacher that can only be acquired by teaching. Students in our undergraduate teacher education programs have their first field experience in their first semester of education coursework. Field experiences are interwoven through their coursework, culminating in a year-long internship with one semester of part-time and one semester of full-time teaching in a local classroom. Students in our MAT program will participate in a full-time year-long residency in a local school. The cooperating teachers who open their classrooms to our students are extensions of the teacher education program out in the local schools. Their guidance, feedback, and mentoring has a huge impact on shaping our future teachers.
Cooperating teachers are invited to participate in a year-long professional development seminar series. These seminars are designed for interns, student teachers, and master teachers to develop a common vision for effective teaching and to learn from and alongside one another. These seminars are hosted in local schools and facilitated by School of Education faculty. One key feature of our MAT program is its emphasis on professional development and co-teaching in residency schools. Faculty serving our MAT students will be available to co-teach with master teachers and provide professional development aligned with residency schools' needs.
Teacher Education CouncilThe work of the School of Education is guided by the Teacher Education Council, which is made up of faculty from the School of Education and other schools and colleges across the University as well as local school teachers and administrators. The TEC provides input on our programs and serves as a sounding board for the School of Education.
As you can see, these partnerships are not add-ons to our programs. They are fundamental in the planning and implementation of our programs. I would love to hear about how your school, district, or university builds partnerships and leverages them for continued improvement.