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New Research-to-Practice Spotlight Features PDS Model at George Mason University

It is my pleasure to introduce the George Mason University (VA) College of Education and Human Development as the next featured institution in the AACTE Research-to-Practice Spotlight series. Continuing our focus on exemplary models of clinical practice, this series highlights the long-standing professional development school (PDS) partnership cultivated by George Mason and schools in Fairfax County, Virginia. Mason is the state’s largest producer of PK-12 teachers and largest comprehensive research university.

The first video in the series is now posted in the Innovation Exchange, showing recent interviews with PDS participants in a variety of roles about what they value in their partnerships and what advice they have for others. These students, teacher candidates, master teachers, professors, and administrators made it clear during our visit that their clinical practice model is strong, time-tested, and codified in a way that brings all participants together to envision and enact the mutual benefits. Over the next few weeks, we’ll share additional video segments and blog articles about what AACTE staff learned during our time in Virginia.

To kick off this series, I asked Dean Mark Ginsberg to share his own perspective on the featured work:

At George Mason University I’m very proud that every teacher is being prepared to succeed in classrooms immediately upon leaving the university. We authentically train our candidates by combining multiple and intensive opportunities for supervised clinical practice with the theory they will need to build a successful career; they learn to integrate critical pedagogy with best practices under the supervision of master teachers and Mason faculty. Our intent is that our candidates are ready “on day one” to meet the challenges of the classroom as they have spent significant time in the “real world” of schools, with deep experiences working in classrooms.

Our PDS model of clinical practice is based on the idea that PK-12 teachers and university faculty must collaboratively engage on behalf of teacher candidates and PK-12 students. Their needs are comingled and complex and must be planned and implemented with fidelity to theory and practice. The PDS model has proven tremendously successful for helping us meet this goal.

Like all good partnerships, ours are designed to be mutually beneficial for every constituent group. They help our faculty to be practice based in their research, for example, and they help teachers to be evidence based in their practice. Our faculty is fully on board with this work, as it is an embedded expectation from the hiring process forward. Faculty who are committed to teaching, engaged in theory and its relationship to practice, and deeply committed to supervision in the schools are the successful candidates for positions at George Mason. We need faculty who will improve not only teacher candidate experiences but also the overall educational success of PK-12 students as they are genuine partners and participants in PDS sites.

What is perhaps most special about our partnerships and programs is the degree to which they involve our alumni. In Northern Virginia, approximately 40% of teachers and 60% of school leaders are graduates of George Mason’s programs. Our faculty and graduates continually tap into each other’s expertise to support our educator preparation programs. We are thrilled that our graduates remain connected with us in a career-long cycle of moving our profession forward. This is simply how we “do school.”

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Rodrick Lucero

Vice President for Member Engagement and Support