- Year 2019
- NSF Noyce Award # 1339951
- First Name Meghan
- Last Name Marrero
- Discipline Biology, Chemistry, Math
Amanda M. Gunning, Mercy College, firstname.lastname@example.org
Meghan E. Marrero, Mercy College, email@example.com; Amanda M. Gunning, Mercy College, firstname.lastname@example.org
Teacher education programs have long been criticized for being irrelevant to what teachers actually face once they enter the classrooms, particularly to meet the needs of diverse students in underserved communities (Akiba, 2011; Carlson, 1999; Clandinin, 1995; Levine, 2006; Liston, Borko and Whitcomb, 2008; Sleeter, 2008; Wilson, 2014). Teachers must be prepared for the ‘work of teaching’, (Loewenberg Ball & Forzani, 2009) or the practices, tasks and activities that new teachers must navigate to acclimate to a classroom of his/her own. Thus, the present study of a specialized teacher preparation program that includes a year-long clinical residency seeks to uncover the elements of the program that new teachers and their mentors view as most relevant and useful in preparing them to teach in high-need schools.
What elements of a teacher preparation program contribute to beginning teachers’ success and persistence in high-need schools?
The theoretical framework for the program design and study is one of social constructivism for teacher education, in which knowledge is collaboratively constructed through interaction and knowledge-building between teachers (Richardson, 1997). Throughout their preparation and induction years, the Scholars in this program are meeting with one another to share, analyze, and build understandings of teaching and the teaching profession. Using qualitative analyses of several data sources (teaching reflections, classroom observation rubrics, field notes, questionnaires, interviews, and presentations, we sought to amplify our Scholars’ voices as they shared the elements of their preparation program that best prepared them for teaching in a high-need school.
Three key themes emerged from our analysis: 1. Support from Cohort. Across all interviews, candidates cite the importance of access to mentors via email, text, and phone calls as a source of support and a valuable part of the program. This study has particular importance for the community where it is situated, as the schools where scholars teach are high-needs, with large percentages of non-white and low-socioeconomic status students. 2. Support from Program Mentors. Scholars also consistently noted that the support that they received during and after their preparation program from their mentors was critical to their success and persistence. 3. Attention to assessment of student learning. An interesting theme that emerged was that our Scholars found themselves frequently relying on their training in assessing students, analyzing student work, providing feedback, etc., and they feel that they were better prepared than other teachers to use student assessment to improve instruction.
These results suggest that teacher candidates preparing to teaching in high-need schools can benefit from strong relationships with other candidates in their cohorts, as well as program mentors, and that strong attention to classroom assessment practices can make novice teachers feel more prepared for high-need classrooms and more likely to persist in the field.