011215

Submitted by brian on

TEACHER PREPARATION PARTNERSHIP

 

Over the last couple years, the ROCORI School District has been one of six area schools partnering with St. Cloud State University in the Teacher Preparation Initiative (TPI).  The TPI program has been funded through a ten-year, $4.5 million grant, by the Bush Foundation.  The focus of the program is on changing the manner in which college students are prepared to enter the field of education and in which they are supported in the first three years of teaching.

 

BACKGROUND

There is considerable evidence that the traditional means of training teachers is not as effective as it could be.   In recent years, teacher candidates across the nation have come out of the university preparation programs with specific needs in training and experience.  This background—along with the increasing emphasis on developing 21st Century classrooms and teaching approaches—has encouraged many organizations to examine the teacher preparation programs at colleges and universities.

In addition, there is mounting evidence that new teachers need continued support in the first years of teaching.  The number of new teachers who feel overwhelmed at their professional experience, who feel isolated and a need for support, and who leave the profession very early in their careers has suggested different approaches for teachers new to the profession.

The idea behind the Teacher Preparation Initiative—TPI—is to change the manner in which teachers are trained and to guarantee support for new teachers as they enter the teaching profession.

 

EXPLORING THE GRANT PROCESS

Leaders at St. Cloud State University (SCSU), which graduates some of the largest numbers of new teachers in the state of Minnesota, learned of the Bush opportunity.  The Bush Foundation was offering long-term grants with the idea of changing, strengthening, and improving teacher preparation programs.  In order to pursue the grant, however, post-secondary institutions (like SCSU) had to develop relationships with and engage public school systems as part of the process.

In 2009, SCSU invited schools across the region to explore the issues of partnership.  Initially, invitations were extended to all schools (more than 65) with which the university worked to place student teachers.  17 of the schools expressed interest and became part of a broad effort to “dream” about what teacher training and preparation might be.  More than 400 professionals across central Minnesota engaged in conversations about ideal teacher preparation programs and teacher development.

Eventually, the Bush Foundation encouraged SCSU to consider more seriously the number of schools with which it could realistically partner.  Ultimately, by 2010, six schools were invited to be partners in the Teacher Preparation Initiative—and ROCORI was one of the partners.  Holdingford, Monticello, Sartell-St. Stephen, Sauk Rapids-Rice and St. Cloud are the other partners.

 

ROCORI INTERESTS

ROCORI entered the partnership with the goals of developing stronger relationships with St. Cloud State University, helping the university develop different approaches to teacher preparation, and to strengthen our own work with new teachers.  Although much of the initial work of the project has been research and background work, our goals are already being achieved.

The interactions through the TPI program have helped to develop and strengthen district relationships with SCSU on many broad levels.  We have been able to interact much more freely with SCSU than we have in the past and, we believe, both institutions have gained through the process.

The work we have been engaged in thus far in the project has helped us to look at the teachers who come to ROCORI as well as allowed us to offer feedback on teacher preparation programs.  Although it is a slow process, our feedback has been incorporated into plans at SCSU to strengthen the teacher training process.  We are working together to place, observe, monitor and develop new teachers.

The ROCORI teacher induction process has also been strengthened, confirmed, and supported through the TPI work.  As we have worked over the last several years to develop and implement an induction program to support our own new teachers, we have been able to secure feedback and share our processes through the partnership.  The feedback has confirmed that we are definitely heading in the right direction—in fact, a number of schools and the TPI project want to use much of what we do as the base for their programs!

 

TEACHER “CENTER FOR PARTNERSHIP

Although the program, at least that funded by the Bush Foundation, must specifically focus on teacher preparation and new teacher induction, all of the partners have agreed that there must be additional elements—benefitting all teachers in the region—in order to make the partnership sustainable into the future.  In addition, there must be additional opportunities for other schools to become partners in the process.

Out of those discussions, the idea of developing a Partnership Center—focused on developing and strengthening skills of all teachers—grew into a proposal for the university.  The Partnership Center has grown into a full-blown proposal through a formal business plan.  The Center, which would be a very unique institution in the United States, is intended to promote academic achievement through efforts to prepare new teachers, support new teachers through induction, provide professional development resources and networks, encourage educational research, and extend professional opportunities for all educators. 

The partner schools and TPI staff have developed a business plan which has been working through the SCSU organizational structure for approval and implementation.  The plan is currently in front of SCSU President Potter awaiting formal institutional approval.  Once approval is secured, the Partnership Center can begin moving forward by securing appropriate staff and beginning its operations.

The Center for Partnership will start with a clear focus on teacher preparation and support for induction programs—the essence of the TPI grant and partnership.  However, it will quickly move into the development of professional improvement programs and establishing professional networks.  The elements of research and resource center will be gradually added to the Center’s operations.

 

CONTINUED EFFORTS

There is much work that will continue in the TPI program and the Center for Partnership, but it is exciting to be part of a research-based initiative.  We are helping to shape the process of developing new teachers, but we are also enjoying the benefits of the research being done in the project to strengthen our own programs.  Thus far, this has very much been a “win-win” partnership!

 

BRIEF NOTES

With the loss of a day of school this past week, the overall calendar adjusts to make up the day.  The process outlined in the adopted calendar puts the make-up day on Monday, April 6, 2015.

The first day that was lost with the November 10 snowstorm does not require students to make up the day.  Staff members will report to school on President’s Day, February 16, for a professional development day.  Students and staff will now have school on Monday, April 6.

The calendar indicates that the next day that we lose (if it happens before February 6), would be scheduled on February 13.  The order and sequence of placing days back into the calendar is outlined within the adopted calendar which can be found on the district website.  It is also included in the chart below.

 

Emergency School Closing Make-up Days

 

Students

 

Staff

 

 

 

 

None

   

Feb 16**

 

 

 

Apr 6

   

Apr 6

   

 

 

Feb 13**

 

Feb 13**

 

 

 

Apr 2

   

Jun 1

   

 

 

May 29

 

Jun 2

   

 

 

The first emergency closing full day wlll be made up by staff, only, through inservice.

 
 

**If the first emergency school closing occurs after January 24, this day will not be used

 
 

If an emergency closing occurs within one week

 

of a date listed, the next make-up day will be used