School of Education Offices
II. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY – YEAR TWO
The St. Cloud Teacher Quality Enhancement partnership focuses on three major initiatives to improve the preparation of teachers and student achievement throughout Central Minnesota.
§ Professional Development
These three initiatives target improvements at four levels – PreK-12 students, teacher candidates, PreK-12 faculty and university faculty.
The partnership has grown substantially during this reporting period. The original partners were the College of Education, College of Science & Engineering, College of Fine Arts & Humanities and St. Cloud School District. Four other school districts have joined as project partners, as we begin to spread the co-teaching and professional development initiatives to other local education agencies. We currently have 34 teachers who receive a small stipend to serve as a building contact – the person who coordinates TQE activities and requests for each building.
Co-teaching continues to be the focal point of project initiatives. Through this partnership we will enhance teacher preparation by institutionalizing a new approach to student teaching that requires both teachers to be actively involved in the classroom. Teacher candidates still receive solo instructional time and take responsibility for lesson planning and classroom management, but in co-teaching they also learn the collaboration and communication skills that are necessary in successful classrooms of today.
Through the TQE initiative, co-teaching is addressed at three levels – the university level, the P-12 classroom and the undergraduate content area. During this reporting period there have been four co-taught university classes, impacting 130 education majors. In these courses faculty utilize co-teaching strategies to deliver instruction, but also make the use of co-teaching strategies explicit to the future educators in their classes.
Co-teaching in the P-12 classroom pairs cooperating teachers and teacher candidates together. Through in-service workshops in co-teaching strategies, co-planning and communication, pairs of educators become familiar with the models and strategies of co-teaching. During this reporting period 141 pairs co-taught, impacting over 3,000 P-12 students. In focus group interviews, both the teacher candidates and the cooperating teachers expressed high levels of satisfaction with the experience. In fact, the majority of cooperating teachers said they would only take student teachers in the future who were willing to co-teach. Teacher candidates shared their belief that they had a richer and more complete experience than their peers who did not co-teach.
We have struggled with the concept of developing co-teaching to help bolster the content and pedagogy skills of our secondary candidates. While departments across the university look favorably on co-teaching and the positives that can result – there is no room for additional credits for students in those content areas, and an undergraduate internship opportunity is not likely to be successful without some credit attached. The leadership team is re-evaluating this part of the grant objectives to determine if there is another approach to integrating co-teaching strategies with improved content and pedagogy for secondary education majors.
This is an exciting area of growth for our TQE initiative during the current reporting period. The TQE Professional Development Consortium was created as an opportunity for area school administrators to share ideas and resources related to professional development. There are five area school districts participating in the Consortium to date. They have become a powerful action group, and have generated support for a number of projects.
In order to understand the professional development needs of area educators, this group developed a professional development needs assessment survey that was available to all area teachers on-line. 1,168 educators responded to the survey – providing a wealth of data in terms of professional development needs, current strengths, preferred types of professional development and best times to offer workshops. The consortium has analyzed the data collected and has appointed a group of representatives to plan a summer conference that will meet the professional development needs of many area educators.
The findings of this needs assessment mirror the findings of the professional learning community which has been studying researching best practice in educational professional development for the past nine months.
During this reporting period there has been a group of 17 educators from five school districts and the university, who have studied exemplary mentoring and induction programs around the country. After their intensive professional learning community experience, this group has made recommendations to the Professional Development Consortium regarding on-going efforts in the area of mentoring and induction. Primary emphasis will be placed on the development of a multi-district mentor training program that will prepare teachers to better mentor new teachers regardless of the specific details of each district’s induction/mentor program. Additionally, this group will be developing check-lists and other resources to be available to partner districts interested in enhancing their mentorship opportunities.
In addition to the professional learning community on mentoring, the TQE initiative has also sponsored two new teacher events during this reporting period. These events are designed to bring new teachers together for an evening of support, information and fellowship. The first event was attended by only 13 new teachers. The second event had an attendance of 24. We will be looking at ways to increase attendance at new teacher events in the coming year.