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Opinion: Teacher Residency Programs Can Solve Shortage Problems

Opinion: Teacher Residency Programs Can Solve Shortage Problems

As hiring continues for the upcoming school year, the cyclical pattern of news is the same. Local papers in what seems like the hundreds are reporting on the nearest school districts’ problems filling teacher vacancies; the problem is indiscriminate as it affects districts and communities across the country.

Headlines from this year include: “Teacher Shortage hits Central Georgia” and “Florida Not Immune to National Teacher Shortage Crisis” and the more sensational “Teacher shortage in East Idaho Called a Famine.”  

At this point, these kinds of headlines are simply expected once June, July and August roll around as teacher vacancies, particularly in harder-to-fill-subjects like science and special ed, remain unfilled.

Several New York Times contributors are arguing in favor of a change that they say will help break the cycle of teacher shortages, save states millions of dollars and in general improve the quality of education for the country’s children.

All working for the Bank Street College of Education, Shael Polakow-Suransky, Josh Thomases and Karen DeMoss say that implementing year-long teaching residencies into the preparation process could be a critical way to both improve training and reduce shortages.

"Yearlong co-teaching residencies, where candidates work alongside an accomplished teacher while studying child development and teaching methods, offer a promising path,” they say.

"Contrary to fast-track certification programs or traditional student-teaching, which is often a brief experience with limited opportunities to practice, strong residencies pay aspiring teachers as assistant teachers so they become fully integrated into their schools.”

Indeed, they say these methods like fast-track certification are an incredibly quick fix that inadequately prepares teachers to help students learn.

Residency graduates, they say, stay in the profession at upwards of 90 percent, not to mention the small number of residency programs that exist have yielded promising results, though public schools do not yet have the financial resources to make such a program happen.

For that reason, the authors recommend funding solutions that would provide public schools with the options to invest in such residency programs.

"Legislatures and school districts have proven, affordable options at their disposal. If we are serious about improving public education, we need to invest in our aspiring teachers and ensure they get sustained practice with real coaching and support,” they conclude.

Read the full story.

Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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