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Towson University Builds Clinical Curriculum Through Virtual Simulation

In Fall 2017, AACTE member institution Towson University’s College of Education launched a pilot program, SIMTeach@TU, to strengthen its clinical and practice-based curriculum through virtual simulation. The program features eight faculty who develop problem-based case scenarios for teacher candidates to experience real-world human interactions with avatars via the virtual reality technology called Mursion. The training simulations recreate the most demanding interpersonal challenges that teacher candidates may confront in the classroom with PK-12 students. It allows preservice teachers to practice and master the complex interpersonal skills necessary to be effective in difficult situations.

“We see simulation—or approximations of practice—work as part of the trajectory of getting our preservice teachers ready to work with real students in classrooms,” said Laila Richman, associate dean of the College of Education at Towson. “We think about this as the first phase of a university-based clinical curriculum that moves them towards being able to work with students.”

Lynn M. Gangone and Renee A. Middleton advocate for education preparation in recent Ed Week articles

These letters to the editor, Don’t Blame Admissions Standards and Ed. Colleges Provide Value first appeared in Education Week on November 13, 2018. Reprinted with permission from the authors.

Don’t Blame Admissions Standards

To the Editor:

Marc Tucker has helped us better understand education systems around the world. Unfortunately, in his recent opinion blog post ("Teachers Colleges: The Weakest Link," November 1, 2018), he demonstrates less understanding of America’s teacher-preparation programs than he has about programs abroad.

AACTE Initiatives in Special Education Preparation Take Flight

AACTE is a national partner for the University of Florida’s Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability, and Reform (CEEDAR) Center, which helps states and institutions of higher education to develop the ability of every teacher to prepare students with disabilities for college and careers. As a federally funded multi-million dollar project, CEEDAR works with AACTE and others to promote the preparation of all educators to have the mindset and skillset for effectively instructing students with disabilities along with all other students in the mainstream classroom.

“This initiative is about ensuring that all educators have the skills to work effectively with students with disabilities,” said AACTE Consultant Jane West, who leads the Association’s work with CEEDAR. “Special education has too often been considered a place and not a service. We are highlighting and promoting preparation for both general and special educators so they can provide effective instruction to students with disabilities in inclusive ways with an eye toward raising expectations and undermining the stigmatizing of students with disabilities.”

Northwest Missouri State University Receives National Award for Excellence and Innovation

Photo courtesy of AASCU

Northwest Missouri State University was presented with the Christa McAuliffe Excellence in Teacher Education Award by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) at the opening session of its Annual Meeting last month in Washington, D.C. The award is named in honor of Christa McAuliffe, a teacher who was killed in the 1986 space shuttle Challenger disaster, and honors institutions for excellence and innovation.

Recipients of the award have shown evidence of top-level administrative support, alignment with its institutional mission and strategic agenda, contributions to significant institutional improvements or programming, research, and incorporated best practices.

Rich Milner Delivers Brown Lecture Centered on Disrupting Punitive Practices and Policies

AACTE member H. Richard (Rich) Milner, IV, a leading scholar of urban education and teacher education, recently delivered the 15th Annual Brown Lecture in Education Research sponsored by the American Educational Research Association. The Annual Brown Lecture in Education Research is designed to feature the important role of research in advancing understanding of equality and equity in education. Each year, a distinguished scholar notable for producing significant research related to equality in education is invited to give a public lecture in Washington, D.C.

Milner is currently the Cornelius Vanderbilt Endowed Chair of Education and professor of education in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Vanderbilt University. His lecture, “Disrupting Punitive Practices and Policies: Rac(e)ing Back to Teaching, Teacher Preparation, and Brown,” focused on research on the practices and policies that implicitly or overtly punish rather than support the development of students of color.

AACTE Clinical Practice Commission and Special Education Taskforce Collaborate on Next Steps

Nearly 40 members of the AACTE Clinical Practice Commission (CPC) and the Special Education Task Force met in Washington, DC on September 24-26 to discuss their separate and shared initiatives that serve as next steps for advancing the new CPC report. Released in January 2018, A Pivot Toward Clinical Practice, Its Lexicon, and the Renewal of Educator Preparation by the CPC offers a framework, guidance, and common lexicon to expand the operationalization of clinical educator preparation. Its 10 proclamations and tenets identify highly effective and evidence-based practices for embedding teacher preparation in the PK-12 environment.

During the planning session, the CPC developed a working plan to advance its emissary work and to create a site-based peer-coaching model. The Taskforce focused on finalizing a series of tenets that will be added to the existing CPC proclamations to provide more specific practice recommendations for special and inclusive educator preparation.

“The CPC met on the first day to discuss the next round of their work, which is to share findings of the report more broadly through focused emissary work and the development of peer coaching strategies,” said Amanda Lester, AACTE director of programs and professional learning. “This emissary work includes a defined plan that will help AACTE members learn more about how to implement the report’s research for developing or expanding their clinical practice model.”

Southern New Hampshire University Launches New Degree in Clinical Education

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) in Manchester launched its new clinical master’s degree program during the 2018-19 academic year. The program offers dual certification in elementary and special education or early childhood and early childhood special education. It is designed to prepare teacher candidates for certification and to ensure that new educators have the required skills, competencies, knowledge, and dispositions specifically needed to support the development and learning of students in elementary grades (K-8) and general special education (K-12).

“It’s an accelerated 15-month clinical program that enables teacher candidates to work clinically with students during 11 of those months,” said Mary Ford, Interim Dean in the School of Education at SNHU. “They are [working] in supervised clinical experiences learning the craft and skill of teaching as well as monitoring the learning progress of their K-12 students.”

Carolina Teacher Induction Program Completes First Year

CarolinaTIP Director Nicole Skeen, right, works with first-year teacher Karlee Baxter and students in Baxter’s classroom.

Teacher shortages are a critical concern across the United States, and the University of South Carolina is tackling the crisis head-on with an innovative response to teacher retention. While recruiting new teachers into the profession is vitally important, reducing the alarming rate at which novice teachers leave the profession must be a central focus in addressing the teacher shortage, as shared in a recent op-ed by University of South Carolina College of Education Dean Jon Pedersen.

“If you add the belief that teacher preparation and support should not end at graduation, a desire to gather data to inform programmatic improvement, and a teacher retention issue to new accreditation standards and a college leadership team determined to make a positive impact on the profession, beyond the walls of the university, you arrive at the impetus for the Carolina Teacher Induction Program (CarolinaTIP),” said Cindy Van Buren, assistant dean and one of the developers of the college’s induction program.

AACTE InTouch: ‘What Makes a Good Teacher?’

Did you know AACTE produces a mini-documentary series called AACTE InTouch? These brief videos inform the public about educator preparation and ways to advocate for, get involved in, and support the education profession.

The series educates viewers on how effective teachers are prepared and showcases successes and challenges in educator preparation. The video content is designed to align with the Association’s key messages focused on quality, advocacy, partnerships, and innovation. Featuring a variety of topics and layered storytelling, the series helps viewers understand the critical issues in educator preparation, feel connected to AACTE’s mission, and learn about innovations in the field.

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