California Programs Developing Next Generation of Teacher Educators

The California Council on Teacher Education (CCTE) has for several decades viewed the preparation of new teacher educators to be among its most important responsibilities. Semiannual CCTE conferences have always been open and welcoming to graduate students and newly hired teacher education faculty. In recent years, however, the organization, which has served as the California state chapter of AACTE since a merger with the California Association of Colleges for Teacher Education in 2000, has created more purposeful programs to recruit and mentor future teacher educators.

During the first decade of this century, CCTE leaders noticed that an increasing number of graduate students were attending our conferences, in several cases on the urging of their doctoral advisers who were serving as editors of the two CCTE-sponsored scholarly journals. To provide more structure and encouragement of this trend, a fund-raising appeal was made at one of our conferences, and the funds were used to create the CCTE Graduate Student Fund, which provided the seed money to establish the CCTE Graduate Student Support Program. For the past 6 years, an annual announcement has been issued to all of the 70 or so CCTE member campuses, inviting graduate students who are preparing for careers as teacher educators to sign up.

Students participating in the program are supported with 50% discounts in their CCTE student memberships as well as in their CCTE conference registration fees. In addition, each student participant is assigned a mentor from among the CCTE leadership, and those mentors make contact with their student mentee by e-mail and telephone and then meet during the CCTE conferences. In return for this support, program participants are asked to submit a proposal for one of the semiannual conferences, either for a concurrent presentation session or the very popular poster session. With guidance from the mentors, we have found that all of our graduate student participants are able to prepare proposals that are accepted for the conference programs.

With the Graduate Student Support Program receiving an immediate positive response, the next year CCTE submitted a State Chapter Support Grant proposal to AACTE with the intent of establishing a similar program for new faculty, which we have defined as any faculty member serving within their first 5 years as a teacher educator at one of our member campuses. We were honored to receive the state chapter grant, which allowed us to recruit new faculty into what became the CCTE New Faculty Support Program. Here again, the benefits to participants are 50% reductions in annual CCTE membership dues and conference registrations and the support of a mentor from among the CCTE leadership. Similarly, New Faculty Support Program participants are obliged to submit a proposal for one of our conferences, and here again the quality of their work has proven worthy of inclusion.

At this time we are recruiting participants for the 2016-2017 year, which will be the seventh for the Graduate Student Support Program and the sixth for the New Faculty Support Program. The success of these efforts can be measured in many ways, but since our primary goal has been to help prepare the next generation of leadership in teacher education in California, we are particularly pleased that over these past few years, numerous participants from these programs have become ongoing members of CCTE, many have assumed roles on our standing committees, a half dozen have been candidates in our annual elections, and four of those individuals have been elected to and have served as members of the CCTE Board of Directors.

CCTE applied for another AACTE state chapter grant a year ago, this time with a focus on achieving greater diversity among the next generation of teacher educators. Successful once again in receiving the grant, we used those funds during the 2015-2016 academic year to assist with the reduction of membership fees and conferences registrations for 11 New Faculty Support Program participants and eight Graduate Student Support Program participants, nearly half of whom are individuals of color who are dedicated to achieving careers as teacher educators. The impact of these support programs has also been mirrored and intertwined with another CCTE effort that grew initially from an AACTE state chapter grant. Three years ago we established the CCTE Quest for Teacher Education Research, through which we issued a call for research studies related to teacher education at any of our member campuses, with the goal of providing each study with a CCTE mentor, establishing regular communication among the researchers, and holding Quest institutes at each of our semiannual conferences. At those institutes, we have heard reports on the various research studies, and we have engaged in discussion of the implications of the research for both practice and policy in teacher education. During the first year we had 37 participating studies; that number rose to 42 during the past year, and we are now inviting participants for a third year.

An interesting development is that many of the Quest participants have been individuals who got their start with CCTE in either the Graduate Student or New Faculty program, and in some cases individuals still involved in those programs have also proposed a study and participated at the same time in our Quest effort. All of these CCTE initiatives overlap and tend to strengthen and support each other. Individual participants often start in the Graduate Student Support Program, move on to the New Faculty Support Program once initially employed in a faculty position, and then frequently participate in the Quest for Teacher Education Research.

A factor that has been crucial to the success of all of these programs has been the willingness of CCTE officers, Board of Directors members, editors, committee members, and other CCTE veterans to serve as mentors in all three programs. The informal and formal support the program participants receive from experienced teacher educators has been universally acknowledged by the graduate students, new faculty, and Quest researchers.

Through all of these activities, we feel that CCTE is performing an important service for our member institutions and individual members as we nurture the next generation of teacher educators in our state. And it does not go unappreciated by CCTE that many of these efforts were assisted at the formative stage by AACTE state chapter grants. We are equally pleased that we have been able to sustain these programs well beyond that initial support from AACTE. Our commitment to the preparation of future generations of teacher educators and to fostering diversity within the teacher education community in California remains strong.

Alan H. Jones is owner and publisher at Caddo Gap Press in San Francisco. He also serves as part-time executive secretary of the California Council on Teacher Education.


Alan H. Jones

Executive Secretary, California Council on Teacher Education