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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: teacher training

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November 26, 2014 at 11:52 AM

Guest: How the Legislature can help empower teachers

Mike Lundin

Mike Lundin

The most volatile period of my 35-year career in education is happening now. Across the country, teachers have begun to react to downgrades in their status, credibility and authority.

According to a 2014 report from the Alliance for Excellent Education, the annual attrition rate of first-year teachers has risen by 40 percent over the last two decades, and 40 to 50 percent now leave the teaching profession within five years. Every year, 13 percent of teachers abandon the profession or migrate to more appealing schools, often leaving the disadvantaged more so.

The Washington state Legislature, charged with scrounging billions of dollars in additional funding to improve education and comply with the McCleary decision, must take the lead in funding effective training programs for our state’s teachers and give them the opportunity to collaborate and support each other.

In Washington and elsewhere, the insidious loss of professional power among American educators is eroding our quality of education. Many schools find it difficult to hire teachers in some subjects, such as mathematics, but only half the math and science teachers in disadvantaged schools have a degree and a license in their fields. Locally, we have seen teaching veterans bail, as outside meddling displaces learning. Not surprisingly, “highly qualified” means less when comparing our teachers across cultures or across nations.


Comments | More in Guest opinion, Opinion | Topics: education funding, teacher training

October 9, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Ms. Moore goes to Washington: Two Seattle teachers teach pols

Kristen Le, a kindergarten teacher in Seattle, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Courtesy Seattle Teacher Residency.

Kristen Le, a kindergarten teacher in Seattle, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. At left is Rachelle Moore, a first-grade teacher at Madrona K-8. Photo courtesy Seattle Teacher Residency.

As they learn students’ names, allergies and bus schedules during the first weeks of school, addressing Congressional staffers in Washington, D.C., is surely the last thing on the mind of most teachers.

But that’s exactly where two Seattle educators  Kristen Le and Rachelle Moore  were on Tuesday, invited to share their experiences with representatives of Sen. Patty Murray, Rep. David Reichert and a slew of other politicians interested in better preparing educators for the classroom.

Teacher training, or the lack of it, looms large in the public conversation about problems in public education. Seattle has attempted to address this with an apprenticeship program, the Seattle Teacher Residency, aimed at preparing educators in ways similar to young physicians-in-training. Those accepted into the intensive, year-long program receive a University of Washington masters degree and, often, a job with Seattle Public Schools.

Moore, 27, had nothing like that when she began teaching first-graders at Madrona K-8 five years ago. Since then, all four educators who started there with her have left, and two quit the profession altogether.


Comments | More in News | Topics: Seattle Teacher Residency, teacher training

March 10, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Heritage University: a teacher-training program like no other

Corinne McGuigan had an unusual opportunity a few years ago to completely re-imagine what teacher-training ought to be like.

McGuigan, a Heritage University educator with 35 years of experience in the field, was helping her university apply for a U.S. Department of Education grant when she came up with a novel type of residency program to change the way student-teachers were prepared for the classroom. Heritage won the grant, and the private, non-profit university in Toppenish began rolling it out in 2010.

The program flips teacher education on its head in all kinds of ways. Undergraduates spend two years in elementary and middle school classrooms; the norm is about 14 weeks. They work in three-person teams with a master teacher. They follow the school calendar, not the university calendar. They learn all of their subject material from school instructional leaders; for example, their math instruction might come from the district’s top math curriculum instructor.

Teachers-in-training spend four days a week in the class, and on the fifth day have a seminar to talk about the content being taught in the classroom. “Their ability to do assessment well, to do daily data well, to find strategies that work for kids — this all comes together so well,” McGuigan said.


Comments | More in News | Topics: Heritage University, higher ed, teacher training

November 13, 2013 at 10:58 AM

New Teacher Residency Program Puts Seattle on the Map

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Seattle’s public schools are in their first year of a new teacher residency program. Called the Seattle Teacher Residency, it’s one of 18 programs across the country belonging to the Urban Teacher Residency United network and is the focus of today’s front-page story by education reporter John Higgins.


Comments | More in News | Topics: Seattle Public Schools, teacher residency, teacher training

November 1, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Not pre-med, how about pre-ed?

Jonathan Knapp

Jonathan Knapp (Photo by Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)

Amid the furor over public school reform and education standards in this country, there is one area on which nearly everyone appears to agree: Teachers should be valued as professionals and trained that way, too.

Several well-informed sources say would-be teachers should be screened into highly-selective schools (a la medical students), and serve residencies similar to those of young doctors — sort of an in-service training model.

Seattle, it turns out, is way ahead of the curve. The district is in its first year of exactly such a program — the Seattle Teacher Residency — with 25 teachers-in-training employed at 5 elementary schools, where 25 senior educators act as their mentors.

Most unusual of all: The program has full buy-in from the teachers union, according to president Jonathan Knapp.


Comments | More in News | Topics: Jonathan Knapp, Seattle Public Schools, Seattle Teacher Residency

October 31, 2013 at 3:44 PM

Are new teachers getting smarter? UW study finds increase in SAT scores, GPA

SAT scores and other measures of academic success could be on the rise for teachers just entering the workforce, according to a new study from University of Washington, Bothell, researchers Dan Goldhaber and Joe Walch.

The finding appears in the most recent issue of Harvard University’s Education Next Journal under the headline “Gains in teacher quality.” Goldhaber and Walch assert that long-standing concern about U.S. teachers’ academic proficiency may be overstated, pointing to a 5-percentile point gain on new teachers’ SAT scores between 1993-94 and 2008-09.


Comments | More in News | Topics: SAT scores, teacher evaluation, teacher training