Program changes how future educators are prepared for the classroom
A project is now in place to fundamentally change the way teachers are prepared for the classroom.
The NDSU College of Human Development and Education is taking part in the “Teacher Effectiveness Initiative,” which is funded with a $5 million grant from the Bush Foundation. Designed to improve and reconfigure teacher preparation programs, NDSU is partnering with Valley City State University and Minnesota State University Moorhead in the local effort.
Since the grant was announced in December 2009, much has been accomplished. A core governing body for the Valley Partnership of the Network for Excellence in Teaching has been established with representatives from the three universities and local public schools. A recruitment video encourages young people, career changers and college students to consider a career in education. Coursework at NDSU has been revised, with each class including a field experience so students can learn by doing.
In addition, program graduates will be supported through an introduction program co-sponsored by districts and the university. The introduction program will include such components as online academy, mentoring and virtual learning communities.
“All of our graduates will be leaving with a guarantee. If school administrators hire them and say things are not going well, NDSU will work with the district to fix it. We’re going to make sure the teacher has what he or she needs to be successful,” explained Stacy Duffield, project coordinator and associate professor and program coordinator for teacher education in the School of Education. “We are ready to work with that teacher, whether it be through a class, mentoring or one-on-one support from a faculty member. We will be there to support them.”
In an effort to recruit talented candidates into teacher education, a scholarship program has been established to encourage students already majoring in a teachable field to earn a double major, both in the field and education. The first two recipients are Katie Field, a student in English education, and Christine Wanner, a student in agriculture education. “We’re going to keep offering scholarships. Our goal is grow this, and encourage people to give teaching a try,” Duffield said.
The project is critical because the Bush Foundation expects about 40 percent of the teachers in the tri-state region to leave or retire by 2020. The 14 participating Bush Grant institutions hope to prepare 25,000 new teachers to fill this need.
“The focus on the teacher’s impact on student learning during both the initial teacher preparation phase and into the initial years of teaching is a significant change from traditional teacher preparation programs,” said William Martin, professor and head of the School of Education. “We are very excited about the opportunity to work with our university and school partners to transform our teacher education programs over the next decade.”
NDSU also used grant funds to construct a new technology-enhanced classroom in the Family Life Center, room 212. “We have our methodology classes there, so all the students’ activities are infused with technology,” said Duffield, noting the room is equipped with interactive boards and remote tablets. “The seating is very mobile, and students can move around to do group work or have flexible classroom arrangements.”
Duffield asks NDSU alumni in education to consider being mentors for new graduates, and to offer suggestions about how students can be better teachers from their first day on the job. “This is a total re-visioning of our teacher education program, and we want everybody to be part of it,” she said. “We are very excited about what is happening.”