Committed Partnership Key to Overcoming Inevitable Hurdles

In this week’s featured videos in the Research-to-Practice Spotlight Series, participants in the education partnerships of California State University, Long Beach, discuss the hurdles they’ve faced, supports they’ve implemented, and advice to others interested in starting a similar program.

Strong communications and trust lie at the heart of both the Long Beach College Promise and the UTEACH residency program, stemming from the well-developed relationships as well as enabling new collaborations to solve evolving problems.

Teacher education professor Felipe Golez cites a jointly developed, site-based master’s program for mentor teachers, and university president Jane Close Conoley cites a new 4th-year required math course for Long Beach Unified School District students–designed by the university–as examples of partners’ eagerness to collaborate and innovate to meet needs that arise.

Eloy Oakley, superintendent-president of Long Beach City College, says strong relationships among the institutions’ executives set an expectation that carries through the dean and faculty level, empowering everyone to reach out to colleagues in the partner institutions. “They don’t have to go through all of the levels of hierarchy,” he says. “We want them to engage with each other, and they have permission to engage with each other.”

Although collaboration brings its own challenges, the partnership strengthens everyone’s ability to overcome hurdles together. “It makes our job collectively easier when we work together,” says Marquita Grenot-Scheyer of the California State University Chancellor’s Office.

President Conoley says one of the hurdles that has proven to be complex is addressing the lack of understanding and appreciation of the Promise in the diverse local community, including parents of participating children as well as local businesses that question why they should invest in the collaboration that they’ve come to take for granted.

As leaders like Conoley focus on outreach and sustainability, the partners are busy studying their work and collecting data to continue to improve their programs.

Education Dean Shireen Pavri says the CSU system’s Center for Teacher Quality gives her college a solid start on evidence of program effectiveness through candidate exit surveys as well as 3-year-out surveys of graduates and their employers. The results inform continuous fine-tuning of the UTEACH clinical residency program, which partner school Principal Cassandra Richards has experienced as a reliable producer of profession-ready graduates. “When they’re in this program, you don’t have that [new-teacher] worry,” she says.

Professor Golez agrees, noting that even when the local hiring market has been weak, UTEACH graduates have been offered jobs. He says this is “because they were able to go into an interview and talk about what it’s like to work in an urban public school–talk about what classroom management looks like [based on their] actual experience in a school.”

Listen to this week’s interviews in the videos linked above, which are now posted on AACTE’s Video Wall along with past weeks’ videos. You can also read earlier installments in the Long Beach series in these articles:

Stay tuned for more next week!

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