Teacher candidates benefit from exposure to a range of diverse clinical experiences. Often, the clinical placements teacher candidates experience during their preparation program are limited and do not encompass the variety of settings they will encounter during their careers. While simulations are not a substitute for in-person clinical practice, well-crafted simulations can:
- expose teacher candidates to student populations that are more diverse in terms of learning needs and socio-cultural experiences than they may encounter in their clinical placement
- allow candidates to practice pedagogical approaches that they do not have the opportunity to employ in their clinical placements and to receive immediate feedback on their professional practice
- offer the opportunity to teach courses and/or categories of content beyond the scope of their clinical placements
AACTE has extended the deadline for interested participants to apply to attend the Simulations for Secondary Science Teacher Conference. The extended deadline is May 5, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. EST.
In partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF), AACTE will convene the Simulations for Secondary Science Teachers Conference, June 8-10, 2021, to address the critical need for well-qualified science educators who can teach effectively in a variety of face-to-face and virtual school settings and meet the needs of diverse learners. AACTE received funding from the NSF Discovery Research PreK-12 grant to virtually convene members and strategic partners to advance the use of simulation in science education teacher preparation.
The purpose of this conference is to convene experts across the country to
- identify significant gaps in the clinical preparation of science educators;
- ideate on virtual environments that help address those gaps; and
- develop scenarios through design thinking for EPPs to implement within their programs.
AACTE is excited to announce the call for applications for the Conference to Design Simulations that Enhance the Clinical Preparation of Secondary Science Teachers. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Discovery Research PreK-12 convening grant, the purpose of this conference is to convene experts across the country to (1) identify significant gaps in the clinical preparation of science educators (2) ideate on virtual environments that help address those gaps, and (3) develop scenarios through design thinking for EPPs to implement within their programs.
The conference attendees will be comprised of current high school science teachers, current science teacher candidates, experts in science education, experts in the use of simulation in educator preparation, experts in culturally responsive teaching practices in the sciences, experts in the Next Generation Science Standards, simulation specialists and representatives from partner organizations. Participants must commit to attending three days of the virtual conference (June 8, 9, and 10) along with three monthly (July, August and September) virtual meetings following the conference.
Photo by Allison Shelley for EDUimages
AACTE members have been working to strengthen clinical practice for years, with examples from all across the country—many highlighted in EdPrepMatters each month—of how partnerships between universities and P-12 districts can build great foundations for those aspiring to enter teaching. A dilemma exists for many programs, though, when they increase clinical practice requirements: Candidates—particularly those from under-represented backgrounds—can face financial barriers if clinical placements don’t offer funding to help them fully engage their learning. As Prepared To Teach shared last month through the release of a survey on teacher candidates’ financial burdens, many individuals must either work excessive hours outside of their placements and coursework, or they resort to taking out huge burdens of debt. 
With over five years of work with universities, districts, and schools across the country, Prepared To Teach has developed a framework for thinking about how the field might make strong teacher preparation more affordable. Our “3 Rs” of Sustainably Funded Teacher Preparation—Reduction, Reallocation, and (Re)Investment—can help local partnerships bring high quality preparation programs within reach for more aspiring teachers.
It is clear that the pandemic had a profound impact on teacher education, and clinical practice in particular. The closing of virtually all K-12 schools in the spring of 2020 cascaded back to teacher education, greatly reducing (and certainly altering) the clinical practice experiences of student teachers. This continued into the 2020-21 school year as schools in many communities remained closed for in-person instruction.
To examine how the COVID-19 crisis affected the teacher preparation pipeline in the state of Washington, we surveyed 29 state-accredited educator preparation programs (EPPs) from April to June 2020. The findings showed that more than 80% of responding EPPs waived or reduced the length of time required for student teaching in their undergraduate programs, graduate programs, or both. These reductions raise concerns about the preparation of recent cohorts of teacher candidates to join the teaching workforce.
In October 2019, Frostburg State University (FSU) was awarded a five-year, $4.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for the Maryland Accelerates: Teacher-Leader Residency for Inclusive Excellence program. This new program addresses Absolute Priority and Competitive Preference Priority I under the Department’s Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) Program. By leveraging partnerships in high-need and rural schools, this innovative teacher-leader residency program will help realize State priorities in preparing and retaining highly effective teachers in the critical shortage areas of science, mathematics, computer science, English, and elementary education.
Modeled after the recommendations of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (also known colloquially as the Kirwan Commission), the program includes a full-year practicum, mentorship, extensive classroom observation, and research opportunities with an emphasis on culturally-responsive pedagogy, mathematical problem-solving, and computational thinking followed by an extended induction program. Graduates of the program receive a Master of Arts in Teaching degree and are mentored and supported through their early years of teaching to develop competency-based practices to move them towards achieving National Board Certification.
The newest installment of the AACTE and Mursion Education Roundtable series features high school students using virtual reality (VR) to demonstrate their curriculum-building skills for a chance to earn a scholarship. The roundtable discussion, Innovative Training for Everyday Heroes: University of Wyoming on the use of Virtual Practice for the next Generation of Educators, will take place on April 13 at 1:00 p.m. ET.
Sue Wiley, business development director for education at Mursion, will host Lindsay Freeman and Colby Gull from the University of Wyoming to discuss the WYTeach Contest. During the session, the group will discuss this innovative project and how the team is using Mursion VR Simulations to recreate the classroom environment and replicate a real-world teaching experience.
There is no doubt the COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented challenges in education. At the University of Illinois (U of I) in Urbana-Champaign, we are facing a lot of those challenges. However, I am trying to be the glass-half-full girl by saying there are a few things we have implemented in these past 12 months that I would like to see us put in place to stay.
When this pandemic is behind us, what best practices should we keep?
Technology for Collaboration, Engagement and Assessment
As we gradually move back into face-to-face classrooms, I know many teachers are ready to put the Chromebooks away! However, some teachers are continuing—and will continue—to apply the new technology skills and tools they discovered during online learning as they return to in-person teaching.
There are so many options for collaboration with creative uses of tools like Jamboard, Google Workspace, Padlet, and so many more. Technologies such as these have helped students who might not contribute when everyone is face-to-face actively participate in online activities. Quick online formative assessment tools have also made it easier for teachers to “take the temperature of the room” and make informed instructional decisions based on individual student learning.
This is the second article in a two-part series. Read the first part, titled “Video Observation Improves Teacher Preparation and Enhances Collaboration.” Authors Caroline Forrest and Cori Woytek will be presenting a live Q&A session at the 2021 Annual Meeting, “Using Video Across Diverse Settings to Provide Meaningful Feedback & Facilitate Reflective Conversations,” Thursday, February 25, 1:30 – 2:30 pm.
Many teacher preparation programs have faced unprecedented challenges this past year because of COVID-19. Schools have moved to online instruction and in-person support of student teachers has become difficult, if not impossible.
In response to the crisis, many institutions have incorporated videoed observations and feedback as part of their programs—a move that our teacher education program here at Western Colorado University took four years ago prior to the pandemic.
Fortunately, having a video feedback structure in place has enabled us to continue to support our residents – and continue to provide them with effective, rich, and applicable feedback – during this time.
In Part 1 of this article, the authors talked about how as teacher preparation program professors in different areas of the United States, they managed to still provide valuable, worthwhile, and innovative professional development for their preservice educators and graduate students who are in-service teachers, despite the myriad ways in which COVID-19 derailed the spring semester.
In Part 2, the authors share the feedback from their students who participated in the virtual professional development.
We, six collaborators, banded together to provide professional development for pre- and in-service teachers’ professional learning experiences during their transition to emergency remote teaching (Hodges et al., 2020) through a self-initiated professional learning community (SIPLC) (Pinnegar & Hamilton, 2009). Adopting this widely practiced research method among teacher educators (Hamilton & Pinnegar, 2013), the collaboration aimed to deepen the understanding of preservice and in-service teachers’ experiences in the SIPLC as they transitioned to remote teaching under the pandemic (DuFour & Eaker, 1998; Song et al., 2020) using Zoom recordings.
Authors Caroline Forrest and Cori Woytek will be presenting a live Q&A session at the 2021 Annual Meeting, “Using Video Across Diverse Settings to Provide Meaningful Feedback & Facilitate Reflective Conversations,” Thursday, February 25, 1:30 – 2:30 pm.
Providing resident teachers with meaningful feedback to improve their instructional practices is—and always has always been—a hallmark of our teacher education program here at Western Colorado University. Through the use of video coaching, which we implemented four years ago, we’ve been able to ensure this feedback is even more effective, rich, and applicable.
In Part 1 of this article, the authors talk about how, as teacher preparation program professors in different areas of the United States, they managed to still provide valuable, worthwhile, and innovative professional development for their preservice educators and graduate students who are in-service teachers, despite the myriad ways in which COVID-19 derailed their spring semester.
Many years ago, during a class on educational administration in my [Megan Reister] master’s program, a guest speaker shared an inspirational mantra he lived by as principal of a large elementary school. He shared the quote, “Prior planning prevents poor performance!” and then went on to explain how he incorporated intentional planning, thoughtful conversations, and open communication with colleagues and staff at his school to create an atmosphere of intentionality and accountability within and outside the classrooms.
As a professor of special education and early childhood education in Ohio, that expression came to mind more than once as I experienced the tumultuous second half of a semester that no one could have predicted or planned for thanks to COVID-19 in Spring 2020. No one could have prepared for what occurred—schools closing, moving to remote teaching, working full-time from home while also managing children at home full-time without the usual supports. One could hardly be faulted for poor performance no matter how much planning happened on the fly. I could only shake my head as I thought back on that statement about planning and performance that made such an impact in my early years of teaching in early March when the news broke that the university was taking a week to figure out how to move to online teaching for the next month and then again, once plans were changed and it was determined the whole spring semester would be moved to online learning.
Photo: A screenshot of Cal State LA student-teachers interacting virtually with avatar pupils in a simulated classroom. (Credit: Cal State LA)
California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State LA ) has been awarded a three-year, $586,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to train future teachers in math and science instruction using a simulation lab.
The grant will establish Simulations for Minority Interactive Learning Environments (SMILE): A Design and Development Project at Cal State LA. The project will feature a simulation lab that will help prepare elementary teachers who will work in high-need urban schools to offer a successful learning experience in math and science.
Researchers will also study the integration of the use of mixed-reality virtual simulations in teacher preparation across several courses in the university’s Multiple Subject Teaching Credential Program. Faculty in Cal State LA’s Charter College of Education (CCOE) will create scenarios and develop scripts specifically intended to teach STEM concepts.
This article originally appeared on the ISTE blog and is reprinted with permission.
If teacher candidates are to learn how to integrate technology, teacher educators and PK-12 mentor teachers must value, promote and demand that technology be an essential element to good teaching. Furthermore, teacher candidates and novice teachers must have ample opportunities to practice teaching with technology during their field experiences and student teaching.
A new paradigm for practice
In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell writes about the connection between practice and success. Experts, he writes, do not “float effortlessly to the top while practicing a fraction of the time their peers did.” Gladwell believes dedicating an enormous amount of time to practice is one of the most important factors in developing excellence. As such, “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”
Educators concerned with developing expertise remind us that not all practice is created equal. In a recent blog post, James Clear, author of Atomic Habits (2018), writes, “…at any level of skill, (if you) practice in the same way you always have you’ll get the same results you always have.” Applying a more purposeful and powerful conception of practice to educational technology calls for teacher educators and PK–12 mentor teachers to distinguish between time spent in repetitive activities to integrate research-based teaching from how time practicing is actually spent as a way to improve teaching with technology.
AACTE is pleased to announce the 2020 recipients of the new AACTE Video Observation Technology Implementation Grant. AACTE offered the grant in partnership with Edthena to help educator preparation programs enhance training for future teachers in methods courses, field observations, skill building, and group learning via advanced technology.
“Both AACTE and Edthena understand that video observation technology has the potential to positively impact candidates during and after the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lynn M. Gangone, AACTE president and CEO. “AACTE is proud to collaborate with partners like Edthena to promote technology growth in schools and colleges of education.”