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Strong Clinical Partnerships Enable Collaborative Problem-Solving

The author is a member of AACTE’s Clinical Practice Commission, whose report will be released January 17 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

As an administrator at a clinical partnership high school, I am honored to serve on the AACTE Clinical Practice Commission (CPC) and value the resulting connections with clinical practitioners and researchers this opportunity has afforded me.

We know that clinical practice is essential to prepare new educators well, and that there are pockets of excellence throughout our nation; however, we often work in isolation and are discouraged by the negativity outside forces imbue into the important work of public education. The CPC gathered a group of enthusiastic, committed educators from across the country to create a shared vision for the future of teacher preparation. Participating in this collaborative undertaking confirmed the importance of clinical partnerships as we shared our practices, challenges, and successes. The outcomes being published in the CPC white paper this month serve as a blueprint to reinvigorate the partnerships with which we are associated and help guide us as we create and strengthen new partnerships.

For over 25 years, my school district and the professional development school (PDS) program at Colorado State University have sustained a meaningful, ever-evolving, and cutting-edge partnership that benefits university faculty, school district educators, teacher candidates, and, most importantly, the district’s PK-12 students. As an assistant principal at one of the district’s comprehensive high schools, I can say unequivocally that we embrace the PDS model as an integral aspect of “how we do school.” In fact, over a third of the teachers at my high school were prepared through Colorado State’s PDS model. Because of their positive preparation experience through the PDS model, they willingly open their classrooms to guide, train, and mentor the next generation of educators. Our long-standing partnership allows us to respond quickly and flexibly to the fast-paced, changing demands on the PK-12 school system in order to prepare teachers who are ready to inspire and challenge today’s students.

I’d like to share a recent example of the great things that can happen by leveraging resources in a quality clinical partnership. My high school houses the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program to support academically capable students with risk factors (poverty, first generation, etc.) on their pathway to college. One component of this program requires paid college tutors to meet weekly with AVID students, a service that is costly and could threaten the program’s sustainability.

Thanks to our partnership with the university, we were able to problem-solve this dilemma by embedding AVID tutoring into required school-based courses for teacher candidates, a solution that benefits all stakeholders. Now, our AVID program can rely on quality college tutors training to be educators and highly invested in their responsibility to the students.

The AVID component also enhances the university’s PDS program. Teacher candidates can include AVID tutoring on their resume, increasing their marketability. Most importantly, our AVID students benefit from positive interactions with role models whose relevant college experiences show them they, too, can be successful in a university setting.

This success story is just one example of the power of quality clinical partnerships!

Learn more about the commission’s January 17 press briefing, download the report’s summary brief, and register to view a free webcast here.

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Jennifer Roth

Fort Collins High School