Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Another Innovation from High Tech High-Embedded Teacher Training: This Project-Based Chain of Schools Has Developed Its Own Teacher Training Facility That Emulates the Constant Innovation and Student Focus of Its Classrooms

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Another Innovation from High Tech High-Embedded Teacher Training: This Project-Based Chain of Schools Has Developed Its Own Teacher Training Facility That Emulates the Constant Innovation and Student Focus of Its Classrooms

Article excerpt

On an unusually warm Friday in February, the High Tech High seniors in Chris Millow's environmental science course are holding class in the school garden, stretched out in the shade of a large tree, listening to a community garden expert share his knowledge of composting. After reviewing the chemical ratios for optimal composting conditions, students get to work creating a compost pile, mowing the grass, and tending to the vegetables that will grow aided by the compost. Their teacher is a student in High Tech High's intern program, learning to be a teacher while embedded in the classroom full-time. This is Millow's first year teaching, but his background includes degrees in wildlife conservation, entomology, and ecology, as well as experience researching and teaching with the Audubon Society, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Millow is teaching seniors full time and earning his California teaching credential through the intern program.

High Tech High (HTH) is a charter management organization that operates 13 schools in San Diego County: four elementary schools, four middle schools, and five high schools. All of these schools serve a diverse, lottery-selected student population; all embody the HTH design principles of personalization, adult world connection, common intellectual mission, and teacher as designer. And all are laboratories for trying new ideas in teaching and learning.

Doing school in a new way requires preparing teachers in a new way, so the High Tech High intern program was a logical outgrowth of HTH's work to change K-12 learning. We launched the District Intern Program at HTH in fall 2004, four years after opening our first high school, in response to a state law requiring charter school teachers to hold a California teaching credential to be considered "highly qualified." It was important to us to be able to continue offering teaching contracts to individuals with a range of experiences and expertise who were passionate about teaching but who lacked a credential. These teaching candidates could be fully embedded in K-12 classrooms while learning to teach.

Three years later, in 2007, HTH opened its own graduate school of education--the first graduate school of education to open in California in over 20 years, and the only one in the nation situated in a K-12 learning community. In addition to offering a path to teacher credentialing, HTH's graduate school awards master's degrees in educational leadership with concentrations in school leadership and teacher leadership to both HTH employees and outside educators. HTH teacher credentialing programs and the master's in education program are both fully embedded in K-12 schools. They share a space connected to one of HTH's elementary schools, and students have the opportunity to practice their learning on a daily basis in their work with K-12 students. To date, 143 teachers have completed the High Tech High intern program: 112 from HTH and 31 from elsewhere; 328 teachers have completed the induction program.

When we began offering the intern program, we had authorization from the state of California to offer single-subject credentials. As our organization has grown from one high school to 13 schools K-12, our intern program has grown as well. We now offer single-subject, multiple-subject, and education specialist credentials. Working under the umbrella of adult learning at High Tech High and with the HTH graduate school, we can share resources with master's program faculty and students.

Interns come to the program with a wide range of experiences, including a research biologist, Peace Corps volunteer, professional woodworker, parent volunteer, and the list goes on. All are employed full-time as teachers of record while taking teacher preparation courses and working closely with a mentor who helps them put into practice each day what they are learning in their credentialing classes. …

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