All aspiring educators should be well-prepared to lead in today’s classrooms on day one. Teacher preparation experiences that include sustainably funded, high-quality teacher residencies not only better support the education of teacher candidates but can ultimately help to diversify the workforce and improve our nation’s education system.
This spring, Prepared To Teach at Bank Street College of Education released three new reports focused on transforming the preparation landscape by centering affordability of preparation programs while strengthening the education field through the creation of teacher residencies: #MoreLearningLessDebt: Voices of Aspiring Teachers on Why Money Matters, Aspiring for More: Deeper Partnerships for Sustainable Residencies, and Five Domains for Teacher Preparation Transformation.
The reports share findings from a 2018-20 grant, funded by Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies (MACP), that enabled Prepared To Teach to establish partnerships across six states to document how universities are working with districts to redesign their preparation programs to include teacher residencies with sustainable funding streams.
“Through this project, we have learned critical information from our partners about what it looks like to move toward sustainably funded, equitably accessible, high-quality residencies,” said Karen DeMoss, Executive Director, Prepared To Teach. “Our program partners are demonstrated leaders in this work as they strive to address the financial realities of aspiring teachers so they can engage in deep, meaningful clinical practice and become highly effective educators.”
The first report, #MoreLearningLessDebt: Voices of Aspiring Teachers on Why Money Matters, examines a survey of more than 1,200 aspiring teachers across 12 institutions and explores their financial burdens to understand how strong preparation with extended clinical practice might interact with teacher candidates’ financial situations. The report also outlines research, practice, and policy recommendations that will support aspiring teachers, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds.
Among the survey’s key findings, 85 percent of graduate respondents and 76 percent of undergraduate respondents indicated that they worry “Very Frequently” or “Frequently” about their financial situations. The report provides a closer look at the daily anxieties teacher candidates face, including 60 percent who work to support themselves while engaged in full time clinical placements.
“It is unrealistic for teachers to spend a year in unpaid student teaching. This allows only privileged students to attend these teacher prep programs and keeps underserved people, people with children, and young people from becoming teachers,” said one survey respondent.
“If the financial constraints were lifted, I believe we would see the diversity that we desperately need in education,” added another survey respondent.
The second report, Aspiring for More: Deeper Partnerships for Sustainable Residencies, shares lessons learned from 12 partnerships at universities and school district sites as they implemented their residency programs in 2019-20 after a year of pre-launch development and training led by Prepared To Teach.
The project aimed to build a learning agenda to help all programs in the network—some of which were just starting their work with residencies and others that had previously secured grants which have recently ended. In addition to identifying sustainable funding sources for teacher candidates during extended clinical practice, the project explored six areas of focus: sustainability, partnership development, program redesign, supporting school improvement, mentor development, and resident learning.
“I think this is not just an initiative that has to do with funding residents, which in itself is a really good thing to do because of the time candidates have to spend finding part-time jobs and the effect of that on to learning how to teach. I think that this initiative is also significant for strengthening partnerships between school districts and teacher education programs, matching, through shared reflection, the goals of teacher preparation and the goals of school improvement that districts have,” said a program leader on the topic of partnership development.
Rounding out Prepared To Teach’s new publications, Five Domains for Teacher Preparation Transformation describes a framework of five interconnected domains for generating a scalable shift in teacher preparation toward residencies: mindset shifts, educator roles, labor market alignment, school improvement, and deeper learning.
To further this work, Prepared To Teach has developed cross-site Communities of Practice for members of preparation programs and P-12 sectors to brainstorm ways to move forward together, explore possibilities for change, and deeply engage in ideas related to each domain. The report highlights stories of transformation within each area of focus, which are captured as vignettes from various project partners.
To learn more about Prepared To Teach, visit bankstreet.edu/prepared-to-teach or read a post on the Ed Prep Matters blog titled “New Report Details Financial Challenges for Teacher Candidates.”