Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

The Boston Teacher Residency: District-Based Teacher Education

Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

The Boston Teacher Residency: District-Based Teacher Education

Article excerpt

Introduction

This article describes the Boston Teacher Residency (BTR), a comprehensive teacher recruitment, preparation, and induction program created by and housed in an urban school district, the Boston Public Schools (BPS). By identifying core principles underlying the design and implementation of BTR and explicating those principles through descriptions of key program components, the article argues for an integrated, district-based approach to teacher education.

Background

In early 2003, a private Boston foundation, Strategic Grant Partners (SGP), posed a simple question to then BPS Superintendent Dr. Thomas Payzant: What is a problem you are unable to fix with the resources you have? Dr. Payzant answered that pipeline of teachers into the BPS was not filling the district's needs. First, although BPS did not have a teacher shortage in terms of absolute numbers, the district was not attracting teachers in its areas of highest need: mathematics, science, special education, and teachers of English language learners. Second, BPS was attempting to diversify its teaching force, yet the vast majority of the applicants were White. Finally, BPS regularly lost half of its new teachers within their first 3 years. Dr. Payzant wanted to build the capacity within the district to recruit, prepare, and induct its own teachers, and thus yield greater control of its teacher pipeline. These conversations led to the creation of the Boston Teacher Residency.

BTR is an effort by an urban school district to drive teacher preparation and development, making the district the producer and not just the consumer of new teachers. The efforts described in this article all focus on figuring out how to make such an effort work best for an urban district. BTR draws on a number of exemplary practices from the field of teacher education in its program design, many of which will be familiar to the reader. This article will argue for the efficacy of harnessing a broad and coherent set of these practices in and for an urban school district.

Program Overview

BTR's mission is to recruit, prepare, and sustain excellent teachers in and for the Boston Public Schools. Since its launch in 2003, BTR has prepared more than 250 BPS teachers. BTR is currently preparing 75 teachers per year and plans to grow to prepare 120 teachers per year, which represents an estimated 30% of the total teachers Boston hires each year.

BTR locates teacher preparation in classrooms rather than in the academy. BTR is highly selective and recruits talented and committed people from diverse backgrounds who want to be urban teachers. These aspiring teachers, called Teacher Residents, spend a full school year working with a skilled, experienced Mentor teacher (who is also trained and supported by BTR) in a BPS classroom 4 days each week. BTR clusters cohorts of Residents in host schools that have applied to serve as BTR preparation sites. BTR hires half-time, school-based Site Directors, who are themselves excellent veteran teachers or instructional coaches, to supervise Residents and Mentors. Residents participate in a curriculum, tailored to becoming a teacher in Boston, on Fridays, after school, and in summer sessions before and after the school year. During the preparation year, Residents earn a Massachusetts Initial Teacher License in their primary academic content area, partial credit toward dual licensure in special education or English as a Second Language, which they complete the following year, and a master's degree in education from the University of Massachusetts/Boston. During this year, Residents receive a modest living stipend to help defray living expenses and incur no cost for the degree or licensure; in return, they commit to teach for at least 3 years in the BPS. BTR continues to support its graduates for at least their first 3 years as teacher of record, helping them develop from novice teacher to teacher-leader with the goal of building a critical mass of like-minded, effective teachers equipped to bolster school and district improvement efforts. …

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