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Unconventional approach to teacher training (opinion)

Unconventional approach to teacher training (opinion)

I have been arguing for two decades that the parameters of pedagogical work and the path to the profession need to be reconsidered. That’s why I’m so intrigued by efforts similar to what Arizona University is trying to do with an approach to the next educational workforce. Of course, as always, an idea is much less important than execution. So I was curious to hear more about what the ASU program actually provides. To get a good word, I contacted the dean of Mary Lou Fulton College of Education ASU Carol Basil to learn more about what they are doing to rethink teaching and teacher training.


Roar: Tell me a little about Next Education Workforce.

Carol: Through Next Education Workforce initiative, we believe that educational colleges, schools and others can create better and different types of educational workforce and learning environments. We need to design a workplace that offers more rewards for educators. Our argument is that we need teams of teachers with diverse backgrounds – in areas such as refugee education, data literacy or trauma-based training – that can provide deeper and more personalized student learning. In Next Education Workforce models, teams “self-improve” – teachers learn from their team members in real time and in real ways. They should not be frustrated by the need to expect help, which is often needed immediately to serve students. ASU provides professional training to community educators, teacher candidates, paraprofessionals, and current faculty to achieve this goal.

Roar: How do these teams work?

Carol: There is no single prescriptive model, but we have elements that we believe should include all models. Imagine an initial team starting with four professional teachers, all with different levels of experience and with different experiences, each responsible for approximately 25 students. They have a total list of 100 students and take on different responsibilities and roles depending on their strengths. During the year, the team can engage others on its list to fill knowledge gaps, such as when a new student arrives who needs help learning a second language, or support professional faculty so that professional teachers delegate tasks more productively. . Educators can shift their goal from being an omniscient teacher, to focusing on what they do well.

Roar: Where did the idea come from and what did it take to run the program?

Carol: Command is not new. We saw very promising research in this area in the 1960s and 1970s, but they never succeeded for a number of reasons. Training and professional training in teacher training have never prepared people for a team environment. When I looked at our students coming out of our teacher training programs, I realized that none of these future teachers, no matter how well trained, can be the “right” teacher for all children at any time. What we ask educators to do, how we prepare them and how educators enter the profession and move throughout their careers – all this is not in line with what we need to do in schools for students. By adding a team model to teacher training programs, people are better prepared for classes. So, in the fall of 2018, Arizona State University began training teachers by bringing our residents together in teams in two school districts. We learned that it is necessary to create teams of teachers without leaving work, as well as teams of candidate teachers. It is important to do both at the same time to prepare teacher candidates in ways that really fit the working conditions.

Roar: How does New Education Workforce work with school districts?

Carol: We are working with districts to create new types of educational roles, improve the skills of some current educators and prepare others to enter schools in a year or two. The new roles vary from school to school, within schools and probably from semester to semester. For example, these roles may include leading teachers who organize and deploy a team of educators; “Digital learning facilitators” who control the use of technology; student success coaches who support the socio-emotional needs of students; or specific content experts coming from local businesses, nonprofits, labs, etc. To improve people’s skills for these new roles, whether they are current teachers or willing, we need to free our content from three credit hours and make it much more accessible. For example, the University of Arizona is creating a platform of community educators on which we present educational content to non-professional audiences in 20-minute segments that can be combined into larger packages of multiple courses of relevant content. The goal is to provide schools with the materials needed to train and attract public teachers. These are people who, if necessary, can join teams and leave them.

Roar: How many teachers and districts do you work with?

Carol: At the beginning of this calendar year, we counted 27 schools with 86 teams serving more than 6,600 students. Now our biggest partner is Mesa Public School, the largest district in Arizona. Andy Furlis, head of the county, wants at least half of her schools to switch to the Next Education Workforce model within two years. Other partners include other Arizona school districts – Roosevelt, Creighton, ASU Prep and Kyrene charter schools. We also have a Gates Foundation grant and are just starting to work with schools in California. We also have great interest from across the country from states like Missouri, South Carolina, Utah, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Roar: I know you are interested in adopting a national program. Can you tell me a little bit about how you work on this?

Carol: AASA has joined significantly by opening its network of thousands of school systems, providing relationship management, providing a megaphone for this work and making models a priority within its Learning 2025 goals. private networks, create Next Education Workforce models. With AASA we are currently building a “Training cohort” for those interested in studying these models with a view to launching teams in 2023. Ultimately, we believe that by building a model of the hub and spokes – the center is Arizona State University, and spokes – school systems, colleges or other local educational organizations – we can really quickly scale across the country.

This interview has been edited and compressed for clarity.

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