The last decade has seen dramatic changes in PreK-12 education and PreK-12 teacher preparation. The demographic, social, technological, curricular, and economic landscape in which we educated children and future educators have been changing faster than at any point in history. In order to meet these challenges, we need something that has of yet eluded our PreK-20 educational system – a truly inclusive and coordinated effort to reform the way we prepare teachers and educate students.
Chancellor Nancy Zimpher and Commissioner MaryEllen Elia have launched such an initiative, TeachNY. Beginning this past summer, the TeachNY initiative is unique in the history of New York State educational improvement efforts in its structure and vision.
First, this initiative began as a collaboration between the largest preparer of teachers in New York State, SUNY, and the agency responsible for all PreK-12 and higher education in New York, The New York State Education Department. Next, it has brought together a steering committee that represents all stakeholder groups and sought input from stakeholders across New York through the TeachNY Listening Tour. Finally, this initiative is truly comprehensive in scope. Its goal is to implement reforms throughout the PreK-20 educational system to ensure that we are actually functioning as true partners that ensure that high school graduates are prepared to meet the expectations of our public and independent colleges and that our public and independent teacher education graduates are prepared to education our next generation of students.
In order for an ambitious initiative like this to work, it needs the full engagement of all stakeholders. The good news is that we have already seen great interest among all stakeholder groups in making the types of changes needed to achieve the TeachNY vision.
The recent Capital District TeachNY Speak Out event saw participants representing PreK-12 faculty and administrators, higher education faculty and administrators, and teacher education students discussing the goals of TeachNY. There was near unanimous agreement among stakeholders concerning steps that can be taken to improve the teacher preparation pipeline as well as PreK-12 education through the State of New York.
Specifically, participants noted a commitment to
- create greater collaborations between PreK-12 and Higher Education in the preparation and continued development of teachers as professionals,
- better utilize our teacher leaders (e.g. Master Teachers and National Board Certified Teachers) in leading the profession forward,
- allow teachers the freedom to exercise their professional expertise in their classrooms in order to prepare their students to meet the more rigorous Common Core Standards, and
- to actively recruit our best and brightest to enter the teaching profession.
At Empire State College, we are already engaging in multiple efforts with our P-12 partners related to the TeachNY goals. For instance, we have a clinically rich Master of Arts in Teaching program that includes a yearlong residency placement. Our residency program uses a gradual release of responsibility model where the resident and teacher of record are always co-teaching. The co-teaching allows for greater differentiation within residency-based classrooms.
In addition, graduates of our residency track graduate with a year’s experience of having been mentored by an accomplished teacher. We have a decade-long, proven track record with NYS Transitional B certification. Our MAT program was founded to service high need areas that were having a difficult time attracting teachers.
Drawing of the expertise of adult career changers, we have established mutually beneficially partnerships with urban, rural, and suburban districts throughout New York State.
This post was authored by Nathan Gonyea, Interim Dean of the SUNY Empire State College School for Graduate Studies.