In early spring, when the coronavirus (COVID-19) shut the doors to classrooms, there was an optimistic belief that by fall the obstacles of the pandemic would disappear and in-class instruction would return to normal. However, as states began to lift emergency orders and school districts prepared to reopen schools, it became evident that education leaders would still be grappling with the unpredictable public health crisis this fall.
With COVID-19 spreading more rapidly in some regions of the United States, each state must assess whether they can safely open schools. Recently, some school districts that deemed it safe to reopen have reverted to remote learning when students and/or teachers have tested positive for the coronavirus. Certainly, navigating the current crisis is complicated, and it is having a profound effect on educator preparation programs (EPPs).
Due to PK-12 school closures in the spring, many teacher candidates were unable to complete their clinical and field experiences in a classroom setting—typically a prerequisite for licensure. Acknowledging that a lack of new teachers entering the field would adversely impact the current teacher shortage crisis, EPPs responded with alternative learning opportunities to ensure that teacher candidates are prepared and competent to enter their own classrooms. As a result, many states have implemented emergency policy changes to licensure, thus enabling recent graduates to teach this fall.
Teamwork Team Collaboration Connection Togetherness Unity Concept
Today AACTE released its new report, Teaching in the Time of COVID-19: State Recommendations for Educator Preparation Programs and New Teachers. The 10 recommendations address critical state policy changes necessary to support innovative improvement in education during the global pandemic and beyond. Increased barriers to developing the educator workforce during the health crisis, coupled with the national teacher shortage, create demands for acute collaboration between educator preparation programs (EPPs), state education agencies, and PK-12 schools to reinvent systems for producing high-quality teachers to meet the growing needs of diverse learners.
AACTE reviewed and analyzed COVID-related state guidance to EPPs in pursuit of three goals: (1) to understand what states are doing to help prepare teachers for the classroom during this crisis, (2) to understand any extant trends in state guidance and (3), to identify recommendations for state leaders to enhance the support of new teachers impacted by program and policy disturbances stemming from the coronavirus crisis. From the analysis emerged recommendations that address changes to licensure and certification requirements, clinical experience pathways, and induction supports for novice teachers.
“Navigating the current crisis is complicated, to say the least, and the pandemic’s impact has a profound effect on many, including colleges of education and educator preparation programs,” said Lynn M. Gangone, Ed.D., AACTE president and CEO. “The circumstances of the pandemic open a window to think differently about our collective work. AACTE released this report at its State Leaders Institute today to provide our state chapter leaders with the latest research to inform their collaborations and conversations with state officials, PK-12 partners, and legislators.”
The report’s 10 recommendations are:
- In making licensure and certification waivers for teachers, states should make changes that are directly necessary because of the pandemic temporary, with a timeline for an ending that is clearly delineated, and transparent in that those who are granted certification as a result of waived requirements must be so classified, (e.g., “waiver-certification”).
- States should seek innovative opportunities to address ongoing challenges—such as lack of diversity in the profession and the need to modernize the processes of licensure and certification—as they consider licensure and certification revisions.
- Ensure candidates continue gaining experience teaching in a clinical setting with a mentor teacher, university supervisor, and continuous feedback.
- Encourage flexibility and collaboration between EPPs and school districts that ensure teacher candidates participate in clinical experiences online or in distance settings if PK-12 schools are not physically back in brick and mortar buildings.
- Encourage innovative approaches to clinical experiences including distributed learning models that employ team teaching in PK-12 settings, simulated classroom environments that allow candidates to approximate teaching, and financially supporting candidates through employment with the local school.
- Assess the needs of new teachers impacted by COVID-19 and identify areas for additional support.
- Require an induction action plan for new teachers describing the activities that must be completed or acquired for successful induction.
- Establish a mentorship program to equip new teachers with strategies to deliver high-quality instruction to diverse learners.
- Implement co-teaching for new teachers whose clinical experiences were fully or partially waived and teachers who have not passed exams for licensure and certification due to COVID-19.
- Partner with EPPs to provide professional development to ensure that new teachers possess the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to teach diverse students.
View the full report at AACTE’s website.
This article is part of a series on clinically rich teacher preparation in New York State, coordinated by Prepared To Teach at Bank Street College. The text is adapted from their latest report, Making Teacher Preparation Policy Work: Lessons From and For New York, and shared by the featured institution.
In the fall of 2018, Canisius College developed the Western New York Teacher Residency Program (WNYTR). The two-year, graduate level program is designed to prepare skilled teachers who are committed to teaching in Buffalo schools, especially schools with high poverty rates and few resources.
In the planning phase of WNYTR, representatives from five partner schools, seeking a pipeline of well-prepared, diverse teachers, met regularly with College administrators and faculty to discuss the design of the program and align the curriculum to eight Canisius Resident Practices, including, for example, eliciting and interpreting student thinking; supporting students across their social, emotional, and academic needs; and designing/adapting appropriate student lessons and assessments.
After spending a year planning for this program’s launch, there was deep and mutual commitment to the goals and objectives of the program moving into the resident selection process.
The culminating course of the NYU Teacher Residency focuses on a year-long participatory action research (PAR) journey residents take with a small group of students. PAR is a collaborative, iterative process of inquiry and action in response to an organizational or community problem. Residents and their students work as a team to identify a problem of practice, research that problem of practice, craft action and data collection plans, implement those plans, and then evaluate their impact through analysis of gathered data. In presentations at the end of the course, residents reflect on the entire process and how it helped develop student agency, advocacy, and voice as well as their own leadership. It is the faculty’s hope that during the PAR journey, residents practice radical listening and how to be mindful learners and leaders.
In March 2020, COVID-19 entered the residents’ PAR experience like a wrecking ball. I gathered with the other PAR instructors to decide how we were going to adjust the project for our residents, considering the radical change in access both to physical spaces and to the students in the PAR teams. We ultimately decided to offer the residents two choices: a reflective path, in which they could craft a presentation on their team’s original plan and the progress they were able to make pre-COVID, and a virtual pilot path, in which they could adjust their projects to the virtual space we all suddenly found ourselves in. Understandably, most residents chose to pursue the reflective path, but one resident, Lorraine Zhong, and her team of students chose to continue their project virtually. Her project is a model for how the PAR instructors in the NYU Teacher Residency will be approaching the project this year, with COVID-19’s grip still firmly on our schools. Her journey is a beautiful example of the transformative power of PAR—its ability to strengthen relationships, build student investment, and spark meaningful change—even in the face of this new and terribly difficult time for our schools.
I’ll let her take it from here.
For much of 2020, COVID-19 has forced AACTE and its members to “think outside the box” and reimagine programming. Just last week, AACTE conducted its inaugural virtual event, with educators coming together to receive advocacy training and learn effective techniques for effectively engaging with political leaders. And in keeping with innovating its professional development opportunities during the current pandemic, the association is pleased to announce the 2020 AACTE Leadership Academy Series.
In lieu of the traditional, in-person, four-day training, this years’ experience will offer a series of interactive sessions for attendees. The six-session experience will take place in two parts, with three sessions to be offered this fall, and the other three sessions to be offered during the 2021 Annual Meeting. Under the theme of “Leading During Difficult Times,” the three fall sessions will explore content in the following areas:
October 14 – Addressing Issues in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
October 27 – Collaborative Decision-Making During Crisis
November 10 – Re-Thinking Field Experience
The following article is an excerpt of a transcribed podcast interview on the GoReact blog with AACTE board member Marquita Grenot-Scheyer, who serves as the assistant vice chancellor of Educator Preparation and Public School Programs for California State University (CSU). Grenot-Scheyer also sits on the board of directors for the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. In this episode, she discusses her experience in special education as well as CSU’s exciting initiatives and research.
When did you realize that you wanted to dedicate your career to teaching students with disabilities?
Grenot-Scheyer: I don’t think I realized it until I was a freshman in college, but my mother always reminded me that I talked about wanting to be a teacher from a very young age, and I just have no recollection of that. But my freshman year in college, at California State University, Los Angeles, I had an incredible field experience with some really complex and endearing young people. And that just set the path forward for what I wanted to do.
How Special Education Has Changed Over Time
So, as you mentioned, you began working with students with disabilities in the 1970s. What was it like to do special education at that time, and how has it changed since then?
Grenot-Scheyer: So when I began my career as a special educator, students with disabilities were predominantly served in isolated, segregated schools and classrooms. So that is, all students with disabilities in one facility. And so my first clinical experience was in a segregated school in a small community in Los Angeles, where students with the most challenging behavioral and physical and developmental abilities were all clustered together. And at the time, the feeling and the research said that was the best way to provide services to kids with disabilities. We now know, decades later, based upon research, based upon federal and state laws, that in fact, the best place to educate students with disabilities is in regular schools, alongside typically-developing peers. So the service delivery models have changed dramatically in some schools and in some communities, but in other schools and communities, students with disabilities are still being served in segregated settings. But we now know that’s not the best way to do it.
This article originally appeared on the EdPepLab blog and is reprinted with permission.
As U.S. schools closed their doors this past spring in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a little-considered effect was the impact of school closures on the preparation of the next generation of educators. Teacher and leader candidates all over the country had their field experiences abruptly cut short, and educator preparation programs (EPPs)—in partnership with school districts and state education agencies—had to adapt quickly to ensure candidates continued to receive high-quality preparation and were able to complete their licensure requirements.
As districts begin to enact school opening plans, EPPs are building off of lessons learned from the spring as they engage candidates in equity-centered, deeper learning preparation. LPI has been in discussion with members of EdPrepLab—a network of programs working to continuously improve and share their practices—to better understand how they’re responding to this unusual time. Three themes have emerged as guiding their strategy and practices moving forward:
- Focusing on core program strengths
- Shifting from crisis mode toward innovation
- Capitalizing on innovations to strengthen educator preparation after COVID-19
If you could build a teacher prep program from scratch, what would it look like?
This wasn’t a theoretical question for Loleta Sartin. In 2005, Sartin helped develop—from the ground up—a progressive teacher education program at Middle Georgia State University, formerly known as Macon State College.
So what did she focus on? Giving candidates as many classroom experiences as possible. The program “ensured our teacher candidates were not just staying in the ivory tower,” explained Sartin. On day one, the faculty taught their courses on-site at local schools.
A decade later, Middle Georgia State found a way to provide its teacher candidates with even more diverse classroom experiences by adopting a video-based assessment tool called GoReact.
Soon, GoReact became an indispensable tool for Sartin and her colleagues to better prepare their candidates while saving their program time and money.
As K-12 student populations continue to diversify, it is essential for educator preparation programs to ensure teacher candidates possess the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to meet the needs of all learners. Mixed reality simulation is an effective tool to facilitate the development of culturally responsive and sustaining educators and to foster self-reflection. Through virtual simulations, instructor and peers provide critical feedback and observation of candidates’ performance via video.
Join AACTE and Mursion for the webinar, “Fostering Critical Self-Reflection: Meeting the Needs of English Language Learners through Mixed Reality Simulation,” at 1:00 p.m. ET, Tuesday, August 18. This session will detail the process used in a STEM methods course to engage candidates in addressing the needs of English language learners and provide examples of how candidate thinking and planning changed as a result. The presenters include:
Education leaders’ outlook for the 2020-21 academic year anticipates a widening gap in the supply of new teachers, according to a recent survey of nearly 200 responses from individuals in leadership roles at colleges of education. The survey, conducted by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) on how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting educator preparation programs, reveals that nearly half of respondents indicated that field placements (student teaching) have been discontinued for at least some of their students.
Teacher preparation is multidimensional, and clinical experience is an essential aspect in becoming a successful educator. However, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, teacher candidates’ face-to-face classroom training has come to a halt, causing them to miss out on the opportunity to hone their in-class, instructional skills before they are in front of their own students.
“Our survey examines the critical demands in teacher preparation as we continue to navigate the global health pandemic and prepare for the academic year beginning in the fall,” said Lynn M. Gangone, AACTE president and CEO. “With critical shortages already in the teacher pipeline, it is more important than ever to use technology innovation to move field placements forward.”