Bring Student Teaching into the 21st Century: Tomorrow's Teachers Will Need Skills, Experiences, and Mentors in Ways They Didn't in the Past If We Are to Close Wide Learning Gaps among Groups of Children

Article excerpt

Traditional student teaching is out of date, especially in programs seeking to prepare teachers to serve the growing number of highneed school settings. Despite decades of reform, outcomes for students of color, English language learners, and low-income students show that we still need to do far more to give these students the excellent education they deserve. That requires a new vision of clinical practice for teacher candidates.

Universities and school districts are testing at least three approaches - mentoring yearlong residencies, and coteaching - all of which promise to improve the preparation of tomorrow's teachers.

#1 Mentoring: It is critical that teacher candidates spend more time with excellent veteran teachers who are themselves improving student achievement despite the odds. Four Michigan universities working collaboratively on the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship in the Detroit Public Schools - Eastern Michigan University. Michigan State University University of Michigan and Wayne State University - are, with district leadership, building a community of practice for mentor teachers and teacher candidates n these high-need schools. Carefully seated mentor teachers with key aptitudes work closely with aspiring teachers. Mentors receive ongoing professional development and collaborate with teacher candidates to achieve specie professional benchmarks throughout the academe year. The four partner universities have committed significant funding to compensate the mentor teachers. While this model is still being fine-tuned initial evidence indicates that the aspiring teachers are confident about their ability to successfully teach their own classes.

#2 Yearlong residencies: By spending a full year in a classroom, a teacher candidate comes to understand viscerally that a student who has no one place to live, for example, has a harder time prioritizing homework. At Stanford University, Woodrow Wilson Fellowes and other teacher candidates are deeply engaged with teachers and students from the day teachers arrive in the fall until they depart in the spring. As a result, aspiring teachers understand what it is like to be part of a school team that addresses the holistic needs of all student while also being immersed in a school culture that is committed to the academic success of all learners. …