October is National Principals Month —a month to honor our nation’s principals and the important work they do leading schools. Led by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), and the American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA), this annual celebration recognizes our nation’s principals for their tireless dedication to their students and the schools they serve.
To effectively lead a school, today’s principal must fulfill the role of instructional leader and create the learning conditions to support teaching and learning. To do this, principals are in classrooms, observing instruction, engaging with teachers in the nuts-and-bolts of leading learning communities, and connecting teachers with professional learning opportunities. Thus, principals are now more than ever multipliers of effective teaching and possess an enormous capacity to impact student achievement.
Simply put: You can’t have a great school without a great principal. Whether it’s supporting their teachers, ensuring students have access to nutritious meals, or making parents and families feel engaged and welcome their child’s school, principals make it happen.
Despite the many rewarding aspects of the principalship and its importance in improving teaching quality and boosting student outcomes,
As the student population has diversified so has our understanding of the general education classroom, specifically who we serve in an inclusive setting. Our students with special education services are learning the majority of their grade level curriculum in general education classrooms. This paradigm shift requires effective collaboration between service providers and teachers as well as a deep understanding and application of differentiation to meet the needs of all students.
For years, the two fields of general education and special education have been siloed. Persistence and partnership is how
The key to developing the Bowling Green State University (BGSU) dual licensure program is reaching out to the local area to ensure the program is built with the local needs at the forefront. “The local data is how the university can drive change,” recalls a district leader. Faculty also believe collaboration with the district is central to their mission and their success with candidates. Making connections with the field office and the supervising teachers ensured faculty could relate what candidates were seeing in the field to what they were learning in their coursework.
University systems must also be taken into consideration, especially when working across colleges and across departments. Two questions drove the BGSU program leadership as they developed their dual licensure program: What is best for our students in this program? An what is best for this program? One significant concern was finding strong clinical placements for each teacher candidate. The success of a program with hundreds of teacher candidates rested with strong clinical partnerships.
Finally, serving all students that walk into the classroom was the priority when developing the dual licensure program at BGSU. “This wasn’t an experiment, this is the way BGSU does business,” reflected a faculty member. It was a choice to move away from single licensure that, over time, changes the makeup of the district teaching population, which is why district leaders were involved at every step in the program development.
To learn more, watch the Advice to Others video highlighting BGSU’s Models of Inclusive Clinical Teacher Preparation, part of AACTE’s Research-to-Practice Spotlight Series.
This article originally appeared on Fox 8 News and is reprinted with permission.
The Guilford County School District is getting more teachers with the help of a new program.
Guilford County Schools, High Point University and North Carolina A & T State University partnered together for the Teacher Quality Partnership. It’s a federal grant that helps get highly qualified teachers into high-needs schools.
The grant awards more than $4 million to get 25 participants into an accelerated program. In this program, they will learn what they need to be an effective teacher while applying the skills simultaneously in their own classroom with the help of a mentor.
“I never thought I would be in the classroom. People have been telling me for years, ‘Oh, you’d be a great teacher,’” Rashida Queen, one of the
A number of students in Portland State University’s (PSU) Secondary Dual Education Program (SPED) recently reflected on advice they were given before entering the graduate program. “I always want more education than less,” one teacher candidate was advised by a mentor in the field of medicine. The candidate now looks back on her experience in the program with appreciation. “I was ready. I had the resources. I had been in the classroom for two years; it felt natural. I didn’t have the same level of trepidation as some of my first year friends.”
The students who complete the PSU program graduate with a dual endorsement in a secondary education content area and special education. Another candidate reflected on the importance of serving every student in the classroom. His decision to pursue a two-year graduate program in secondary English and special education was an obvious one; it ensured he would be prepared to meet the needs of all students with a range of abilities.
The benefit of being profession-ready is not only valued by the teacher candidates. High school students also note the tremendous advantage they have when a teacher who understands the unique needs of students with IEPs is leading the classroom. In particular, college access traditionally has been stymied for students with significant disabilities. However, one high school student reflected that she has a mentor in her teacher, someone who has guided her toward college-ready curriculum. Learning from their students is another area of mutual benefit expressed by the candidates. The necessity to meet the needs of each student in the classroom is universally acknowledged by candidates, students, and administrators.
To learn more, view the What’s in it for me? video highlighting PSU’s Secondary Dual Education program, part of AACTE’s Research-to-Practice Spotlight Series.
This article originally appeared in Rowan Today and is reprinted with permission.
Even in the best school districts, obstacles to equal education and opportunities can hide far below the surface
To help districts unearth and address these issues, the Center for Access, Success and Equity (CASE) in Rowan University’s College of Education has forged equity-focused research practice partnerships with several school districts—one of CASE’s three research areas. CASE is establishing research as central to the College of Education in three ways — through partnerships with districts, through grant-funded research, and through the College’s Ph.D. program.
“I can’t speak enough about our experience with CASE,” said Piera Gravenor, superintendent of Delsea Regional School District, which has worked with CASE for the last two years.
Developing and sustaining partnerships with local school districts are critical to the success of the Bowling Green State University (BGSU) Inclusive Early Childhood (IEC) program. Superintendents who work with BGSU assert that all parties need to understand the challenges each school district and university face and must be willing to bridge the gap between research and clinical practice together. BGSU’s teacher candidates are deployed for clinical practice in special education at local schools including in rural areas.
“One of the pieces that works really well for us is that all of the people working in the education department at the university are parents themselves of students in our district so there’s a vested interest,” said Francis Scruci, superintendent of Bowling Green City Schools. “I think there’s a mutual respect. We certainly respect what the university does and I think they respect what we’re trying to do at the K-12 level and we understand the challenges that both of us face. We are willing to bridge that gap and try to help each other become successful.”
BGSU’s overall objective is to prepare graduates of the IEC program to teach young children with and without disabilities in inclusive settings. The IEC program blends the best practices from early childhood education with early childhood special education. It addresses the knowledge, skills, and values necessary to meet the needs of each child. Graduates of the program are prepared to provide differentiated, evidence-based instruction to young children from birth through grade 3.
To learn more, watch the Developing and Sustaining Partnerships video highlighting BGSU’s Models of Inclusive Clinical Teacher Preparation, part of AACTE’s Research-to-Practice Spotlight Series.
The Chronicle of Higher Education recently issued a special report, “The Campus as City: Crucial Strategies to Bolster Town-Gown Relations and Run a Thriving 21st-Century Institution.” The report explores the concept of “running a city within a city”— how colleges that are often towns or cities themselves are responding to the financial challenges of staying connected to their surrounding communities to provide support and attract and engage students.
In the Chronicle’s article, How One College Went ‘All In’ in Its Neighborhood, author Scott Carlson profiles a promising partnership between one institution and its community. He writes:
Educational opportunity is vital to a thriving city. And while entrepreneurial Portland, Ore., is doing well in many respects, some neighborhoods, as anywhere, are down and out. That’s especially true on the north side, near old industrial sites, where the population is less white and Concordia University, a private liberal-arts institution, for years shared a corner with a rundown elementary and middle school.
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One of the key components of Portland State University’s (PSU) Secondary Dual Education Program is its success in developing and sustaining partnerships with local school districts.
Marvin Lynn, dean of the Graduate School of Education at PSU, shares how the program prepares secondary education teacher candidates to bring content knowledge and “the knowledge that special education teachers have to bare about the learning process and about how to work with these unique populations” to local schools.
Educators like Ana Capac, a special education teacher at Evergreen High School, specifically ask for student teachers from the PSU program because of the mindsets and approaches they bring to the classroom and community. “It is really important that I’m supporting both the student teachers I’m working with on how they are developing this mindset of inclusion, supporting all students, and working within the school to support their colleagues as well,” says Capac.
Andrew Gilford, assistant principal at Clackamas High School, emphasizes this culture shift to more collegial relationships where the PSU teacher candidates and the classroom teachers “speak the same language” and can work together to serve students with disabilities and improve learning outcomes. “Coming from this kind of program and this kind of background, you are immediately an advocate,” adds Rob Parness, special education teacher and former academic coach at Tigard High School.
In discussing the culture shift, Will Parnell, curriculum and instruction department chair at PSU, emphasizes that the program was built based on relationships with the community. “There were local districts that were saying ‘we want special ed teachers that can support students in general ed classrooms’ but they found out that teacher prep programs were not focused on that,” says Susan Bert, assistant professor of practice, special education at PSU. “So there was a need.”
To learn more, view the Developing and Sustaining Partnerships video featuring PSU’s Secondary Dual Education program.
This article and photo originally appeared on the Marist website and are reprinted with permission.
Marist’s Education Department is well known for preparing students to become effective teachers and leaders in their schools and communities. Its programs emphasize the role of research and technology and the importance of critical thinking, creative problem solving, and multicultural and global perspectives. Consistent with Marist’s commitment to being actively engaged in the community, the Department recently hosted two groups of local schoolchildren in an effort to advance two worthy goals: exposing students from underrepresented groups to a college campus and encouraging them to consider teaching as a career.
On May 20, Marist welcomed a group of 20 English as a New Language (ENL) students in the third, fourth, and fifth grades at Balmville Elementary School, a public school in the Newburgh Enlarged City School District. The visit, the third in three years for students from Balmville, stems from the work of Professional Lecturer of Education Christina Wright Fields to promote the ideas of pursuing a college education and becoming a teacher. During their half-day visit to the College, the students toured the Marist campus, ate lunch, and participated in a session led by Fields and Assistant Professor of Education Mary Kelly in which they developed a storyboard from children’s literature; in past years, these faculty-led sessions have included tree identification and STEM educational hands-on activities. Notes Associate Dean for Teacher Education Edward Sullivan, “Essentially, we like to expose the Balmville grade-schoolers to various academic departments on campus to expand their knowledge base and present them with different educational possibilities. We also involve Marist education students in these visits to help the schoolchildren visualize themselves as future college students engaged in helping others to learn.”