Partnering to prepare tomorrow’s teachers

A version of this post originally appeared on Bush Foundation Blog. Reposted with permission.

Since 2005, the Teachers for a New Era (TNE) Learning Network, of which I’m a co-director, has brought together 30 university teacher preparation programs from around the country to learn from one another’s successes and challenges. We at the TNE Learning Network know how a community of peers can spread the word about good ideas in innovative teacher preparation, and we’re not alone. As part of the Network for Excellence in Teaching (NExT) initiative, the Bush Foundation and 14 teacher preparation programs in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota are working together to transform the way they recruit, prepare, place and support great new teachers for their communities and states.

The TNE Learning Network has always encouraged and supported our network members to develop strong relationships with their local P-12 schools and districts, but after a few years we took a step back to reassess and redefine our network. We wanted to be more explicit that teachers and school administrators are also teacher educators, and they need to be part of any conversation about getting the best new teachers into tomorrow’s schools.

With that in mind, in 2011 we set out to visit exceptional partnerships to explore how schools and universities can be good partners in preparing new teachers—and how some programs are already partnering effectively. With colleagues in tow from schools, colleges of arts and sciences, and colleges of education, we spent several days in diverse communities talking to veteran, new and future educators about how their partnerships are changing schools and universities for the better.

These strong partnerships can prepare better teachers for tomorrow while helping schools today. Teacher candidates benefit from longer, more intensive and more collaborative stints in local schools, and are ready to hit the ground running as new teachers. Meanwhile, two adults co-teaching in the classroom— with a common vision of good teaching— can collaborate to keep more students actively engaged. As one high school principal from Ohio told us, “Having positive role models around is so helpful…We have found that having an extra adult in the classroom has actually driven improvement.”

Now we’re releasing Partnering to Prepare Tomorrow’s Teachers: Examples from Practice to share what we’ve learned about building mutually beneficial school-university partnerships. We’ve arrived at seven essential elements for effective partnering—things like:

  • Mutual responsibility for preparing good teachers.
  • Clear commitments and shared financing.
  • Respect for complementary knowledge from research and practice.

We hope you’ll read the full brief to learn about all seven essential elements. Partnering to Prepare Tomorrow’s Teachers provides inspiration for new and stronger school-university partnerships; its concrete examples of collaboration strategies should help sustain this inspiration in practice.

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