PDS Partnership Benefits PK-12 Students From Many Angles

Two new videos are available this week on AACTE’s Research-to-Practice Spotlight Series highlighting the George Mason University (VA) College of Education and Human Development’s clinical preparation program. This week’s videos present partner elementary schools’ experience with having multiple teachers in the classroom and display the readiness of George Mason students after completing their 1-year internships.

The College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University (GMU) and its network of professional development schools (PDSs) benefit PK-12 student learning in several ways. Students enjoy having access to a second adult in the room dedicated to helping them succeed; teacher mentors gain new perspectives and techniques they can integrate in their classroom; and teacher candidates are prepared through a yearlong internship to hit the ground running in their own classrooms in the future.

“[The interns] know that children are going to look at them and say, ‘You’re my teacher,’ and they expect you to know what everybody else knows. The expectation is high from the beginning,” said Principal Linda Ferguson of Westlawn Elementary School, a PDS in Fairfax, Virginia. And the experience pays off – Ferguson looks to fill staffing vacancies with these well-prepared interns, and in fact hired only from the GMU pipeline to secure six new teachers last year.

As new hires, teachers are still assigned a mentor to continue their learning and growth. The word support is what comes to mind when Morgan Mines, a teacher candidate from George Mason, thinks of her experience in the classroom. “Support from the staff, support from the administration, support from students – and also the parents. You can’t teach by yourself. It’s a team effort.”

Michelle Pivonka, another teacher candidate, enjoys the partnership between teacher candidates and teacher mentors. “The teachers are learning from what you bring from the classroom at George Mason and the children benefit because we’re throwing in new ideas and new techniques that we’re learning,” she said. “We’re able to be validated as teacher candidates because they collaborate with us and use our ideas in the classroom too.”

Students at GMU gain insights into the flow of an academic year by participating in the same classroom for a full school year. “It’s been beneficial for me to see the introduction of everything and then see the children progress throughout the year,” said intern Amy Werking. “If I did a semester internship, then I would just get to see one half of the year, which would be more difficult for me to then go apply the next year.” Candidates also participate in workshops and meetings with the other staff, which both adds to their robust preparation and enhances the school’s professional community.

Visit the Innovation Exchange to catch the previous segments of AACTE’s Research-to-Practice Spotlight Series, and stay tuned for our final segment on George Mason University in 2 weeks!

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