Teachers in Training at Lawrence

Teachers in Training at Lawrence

I have long believed that in order for students to be learning and growing in a school, teachers need to be learning and growing.  Roland Barth, the founder of Harvard’s Principals’ Center, liked to use the familiar anecdote of oxygen masks on airplanes to illustrate the point.  The flight crew instructs adults to put their own mask on first before putting a mask on their child.   You get the metaphor.  We have to take care of ourselves so we can take care of the children.

One way we provide oxygen for our teachers is to be, in the words of our school vision, “a professional learning community that cultivates reflective practice, excellence in teaching, and a passion for learning.”  Having teachers in training working in a school contributes to our reflective culture.   Student teachers question us about why we do what we do.  They bring in knowledge of current best practice and new ideas. They bring energy and enthusiasm that help keep us fresh.  And, on a very pragmatic level, more adults in classrooms help us provide more individualized attention to students.

The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) defines professional development schools (PDS) as “innovative institutions formed through partnerships between professional education programs and K–12 schools…PDSs are often compared to teaching hospitals. As practicing professions, both teaching and medicine require a sound academic program and intense clinical preparation. The teaching hospital was designed to provide such clinical preparation for medical students and interns; PDSs serve the same function for teacher candidates and in-service faculty. Both settings provide support for professional learning in a real-world setting in which practice takes place.”  

Lawrence School is not currently a true professional development school, as defined by NCATE.  However, I believe we have the foundation in place to create one.   The caliber of our teachers, the diversity of our school community and our proximity to area universities all contribute to Lawrence being an attractive location for teachers in training.

So who are our student teachers any way?   Here’s a snapshot.

Teacher Interns

Brookline has partnerships with three area universities that lead to paid full-year graduate interns working in our schools. Wheelock College provides interns from their Integrated Elementary and Special Education Master’s program to work in Brookline’s first grade classrooms. Kelly Farrell is an intern in1F this year. Through Lesley University, we have one intern each year working in special education. Devan Lovegreen in our Learning Center intern this year.   And in alternate years, each school has one or two interns from Simmons. Abigail Thompson is an intern in 2L this year.

In addition, our counseling staff works with full-year interns. Heather Naiden is working in guidance with Holly Zito and Shaina Martinez.  Josefine Eriksson and Dana Silverberg are working with Psychologist Robin Toback.

New Partnership with the Shady Hill School Teacher Training Course

This semester, we are pleased to welcome five “apprentice teachers” from the Shady Hill School TTC in what we hope will become an annual partnership.  The Shady Hill TTC is a site-based teacher training program that has been preparing teachers for over 85 years.  In 1994, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education approved the school to become an alternate-route program for public school certification. This selective program accepts a cohort of 15-18 graduate students each year. Apprentices do two placements a year. About one-half of the students choose to do their second placement in a public school setting.   A benefit of this partnership is that it provides unified supervision from the program’s full-time director, who gets to know our school and our teachers.   And our teachers have an opportunity for professional development with their colleagues at Shady Hill and the O’Donnell School in Boston (their other public school partner).    Our apprentices are:  Caitlin Jackson (2GR), Janice Wong (3H), Derrick Rainey (5P), Victoria Lee (6/7 Science – Hunter), and Amy Carey (7/8 Science – Keser).

Full-Time Student Teachers

Each semester, we welcome several full-time student teachers from a variety of universities, This semester they include:  KC:  Emily Murphy (Wheelock);  2N: Marina Cubellis (Emmanuel); 3K: Meagan Moran (Northeastern),  7/8 Math-Deily:  Leanne LaRosa (Lasell); and 7/8 Social Studies-Hollander: David Whelpley (UMass-Boston).

Pre-practicum Students

Finally we host a number of students who come one day a week as part of an early fieldwork experience, usually connected to a particular course they are taking.  Many times these students become full-time student teachers later on when the match is right.

In the words of Shady Hill’s TTC program description:  “Immersion in a classroom with a talented mentor while studying relevant research and issues is the best way to learn how to teach.”  I would add that our students and our teachers benefit as well from the presence of aspiring teachers in our classrooms.

Rick Rogers
rick_rogers@brookline.k12.ma.us

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