Wrapping Up the Spotlight on the St. John’s RISE Program
Two final videos are available this week on AACTE’s Research-to-Practice Spotlight Series highlighting the St. John’s University (NY) School of Education clinical preparation program known as RISE. These videos focus on building successful collaborations among professors, future teachers, and schools, and on important themes such as flexibility, humility, and remembering the “bottom line” goal of helping children learn.
Even in its short lifespan to date, the Residential Internship for St. John’s Educators (RISE) of St. John’s University has generated a strong sense of identity and mission among professors, interns, and PK-12 partners alike. As they head into their third year, participants already have plenty of advice to offer others who might want to follow in their path.
St. John’s faculty members cite flexibility as a chief asset in making their partnerships work, and student teachers echo that same characteristic as essential to their success as interns. Professors note the importance of having candidates learn to take risks, which is not only aided by the extended clinical time in the RISE program but also modeled by faculty in their interactions with school partners.
Student teacher Jeffrey Ortega gets the point. “It’s okay to make mistakes,” he says. “Make them now while you can afford them. Push to the boundaries now and see how they work for you.” His fellow interns also underscore the need to step outside of one’s comfort zone when learning to teach and building relationships with students.
For higher education faculty looking to start a similar partnership, the St. John’s team advises starting small and emphasizing respect for the knowledge and experience offered by partner schools. “As far as getting it off the ground, there needs to be a level of humility [to avoid exacerbating the] divide between the university and school,” said Liz Chase, assistant professor and RISE faculty director. “I think we have taken the approach ‘we are here to learn from you.’”
Judy Henry, principal of Queens Gateway to Health Sciences Secondary School, advises future teachers to focus first on time management. “Sometimes you have a wonderful lesson plan, and it just doesn’t get executed,” she says. “We need to be teaching students time management.” Being aware of how to manage time also helps prevent burnout, she says, helps teachers develop realistic expectations for what they can accomplish.
Reflecting on the program moving forward, St. John’s is focused on sustainability and continuous improvement of their partnerships. Dean Michael Sampson notes that clinical teacher preparation is the direction of the future for many reasons, from bringing learning benefits to various participants to strengthening the university’s community connections to boosting graduates’ competitiveness in the job market.
Visit the Innovation Exchange to catch previous segments of AACTE’s Research-to-Practice Spotlight Series, and stay tuned for our next series where we will be focusing on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.