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Reaffirming the Importance of All Voices: Universities and PK-12 Partners

One of the things I appreciate most about conferences is how the small groups of teacher educator voices residing within our home institutions can join together with others to create an impressively large chorus—one whose collective power can provide needed volume and attention to important issues.

At the AACTE Annual Meeting in Atlanta, I was encouraged to have my quiet voice as a future teacher educator amplified, thanks to the company of so many colleagues who share my passion about creating a developmental continuum that recognizes, values, and utilizes the expertise of classroom teachers in preservice teacher preparation and induction.

In my work with student teachers, I continually see how their practice is influenced by the experienced teachers who welcome them into their classrooms, trust them with their students, and mentor them daily during their semester-long internship. One of AACTE’s core values is to help support higher education and PK-12 classrooms to provide the highest quality learning environments. Of note is the number of ways I heard this refrain echoed throughout the conference.

Of course, I heard it from places explicitly designed to treat PK-12 teachers as a vital resource—such as the longstanding Brigham Young University Public School Partnership, which shared strategies for bridging the gaps between PK-12 schools and educator preparation programs. The message also popped up in other places:

  • The University of Missouri-St. Louis and its Studio Schools rely on the collective strength of teams of PK-12 partners to help grow their future teachers.
  • Barbara Burn from Canisius College stressed the importance of having PK-12 partners understand and assist student teachers in meeting the goals of edTPA.
  • Kent Seidel from the University of Colorado at Denver emphasized that schools’ systematic supports have strong impacts on teachers because the rules, routines, cultures, and climates within them affect how student teachers can implement what they have learned in their programs.
  • The acknowledgment that beginning teachers are still learning and need ongoing support was featured in Lin Goodwin’s inspiring presentation on how Singapore has reinvented its education system—and how induction of beginning teachers is viewed as a professional responsibility.

To this collective voice, I am excited to add my own—to commit to an educational continuum where the work of PK-12 teachers is essential to the work done at the university level to help educate, prepare, support, and sustain our next generation of teachers. Events such as AACTE’s Annual Meeting provide much-needed opportunities for us to share the key tenets of advocacy and partnership across our profession.

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Christine DeGregory

George Mason University - AACTE intern