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Session highlights Innovative Programs that Address Workforce Needs

During the AACTE 2019 Annual Meeting, panelists for the Deeper Dive session, “Innovations to Address Today’s Workforce Needs” examined inclusive education preparation and strategies to address the national teacher shortage. The session highlighted AACTE’s partnership with the Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability, and Reform (CEEDAR) Center at the University of Florida and its federal supporters.

AACTE Consultant Jane West, who leads the Association’s work with CEEDAR, moderated a discussion with panelists Mary Murphy and Mark Seals (Bowling Green State University) and Marvin Lynn (Portland State University) on best practices at Bowling Green’s undergraduate teaching program and Portland State’s master’s program. 

In 2009, Bowling Green addressed a 50% cut in the special education program by creating a dual licensure program focused on pre-3 early childhood education and special education. The Inclusive Early Childhood program is “field-centric” with each student working in a school every semester. With 900 students, the program is the largest undergraduate program at the university. It includes contracts with 88 public and private schools in the state in order to address its field placement needs. Murphy and Seals discussed how bringing special education and general education together was challenging for educators and students, but turned out to be a successful enterprise.

“Many students who come into the joint program want to be general education first grade or kindergarten teachers until they experience the special education component. Without this joint program, we wouldn’t have nearly as many students going into special education,” said Murray.

Seals added, “The governance structure in a program like this is also very important. Our structure at Bowling Green is designed in such a way that block leaders at each level have direct collaboration throughout the system with the individuals who are out in the school. They are always talking with each other.”

Lynn shared that the Portland State Secondary Dual Educator Program was created in 2006.  It is a master’s program that admits 15 students per cohort into its 2-year, full-time program, where students start in the classroom and gradually move to the teaching level. Faculty in Portland’s undergraduate and graduate departments work together across silos to innovate and collaborate. Currently, the program is in its seventh cohort. 

“Students in our programs are a resource to the mentor teachers and the schools they work with because they often bring new ideas that can benefit the school or their mentor teacher—such a collaboration becomes a form of professional development for the mentor teachers.” said Lynn. “But having a program like this requires strong field relationships where both sides get something out of the program.”

The panel agreed that various stakeholders must be at the table to make programs like those at Bowling Green and Portland State work well and that the internal infrastructures of the universities are key.  Implementers of both programs were able to get various entities and stakeholders on board by creating an advisory board at the beginning. This established a dialogue loop and facilitated continuous improvement, enabling each of these programs to be responsive to stakeholder recommendations and feedback as well as responsive to the advice of their collaborative partners. 

“Before starting off on such a project, it’s important to survey your faculty and community to make sure there is sufficient support in the beginning,” said Murray. “That gives you a demand you need to facilitate the program.”

Following the panel discussion, session attendees shared best practices to learn about the programs in the different states and engaged in a lively Q&A session.  

A video recording on this Deeper Dive session, “Innovations to Address Today’s Workforce Needs,” is available to Annual Meeting attendees at www.aacte.org. Additional video recordings of the General Sessions and all Deeper Dives from the 71st Annual Meeting may be accessed in the AACTE Resource Library.

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