The professional development I have gleaned from using the curriculum materials alone has taken my teaching to a higher level. Furthermore, the workshops and training sessions that I have attended through the Children’s Literacy Initiative have enhanced and supported my teaching in numerous ways. The opportunities to collaborate with my colleagues and learn from CLI professional developers have been invaluable. I have also found my professional work and the quality of my instruction improved as a direct result of my relationship with my coach. I know I can depend on her when I struggle or when I want suggestions for how to advance my teaching. As a teacher, and especially as a new teacher, feedback is an essential part of my career. My professional developer gives me guidance, suggestions, and support as I work to bring my students to higher levels of competence and achievement.
The Teacher Pipeline Project
Student teachers describe their experience in the project
Just as an investment in improving the education of children has a greater economic return the earlier it is made, investments in improving literacy instruction have much more potential if they are made early in a teacher’s career. Children’s Literacy Initiative has over 20 years of expertise in delivering high-quality professional development to elementary school teachers. CLI can capitalize on the investment that has already been made in establishing Model Classrooms to transform the student teaching experience, leading to higher expectations and results for urban elementary school students.
Student teachers, especially those working in an urban environment, are not necessarily placed in the best classrooms. If a student teacher does not get matched with a truly expert teacher one of the best opportunities to ensure a successful career of teaching is lost.
With the support of the Claneil Foundation, FAO Schwarz Family Foundation, and Samuel S. Fels Fund, CLI implemented a teacher pipeline project in 2009-10, in which we worked with Arcadia University, University of Pennsylvania, Penn State University, St. Joseph's University, and Chestnut Hill College to place student teachers in Model Classrooms. Seven student teachers had the opportunity to observe best literacy instructional practices in action and were able to see first-hand the remarkable student success resulting from rich literacy environments, exemplary teaching, and high expectations for students.
Key features of the project are summarized here:
CLI Trained University Students
- 7 student teachers attended CLI’s intensive 4-day Institute prior to student teaching to ground them in the research-based effective literacy practices they would use in the classroom. The student teachers were also trained to administer Running Records assessments.
CLI Model Classroom Teachers served as Cooperating Teachers
- University students had their student teacher placement in a high-performing classroom under the direction of a teacher who is expert in literacy instruction, according to recognized metrics.
CLI prepared 11 cooperating teachers through Coaching Camp to effectively mentor student teachers.
CLI Professional Developers coached the student teachers
- This arrangement provided a unified team (student teacher, Model Classroom teacher, and Professional Developer) using the same high-quality practices.
This project confirmed CLI’s belief that our training and coaching is very valuable for student teachers. Our university contacts, and the student teachers themselves, felt that student teacher placements obtained through this project were superior to the average placement.
Survey data showed that participating in this project led the student teachers to feel better prepared to teach and more motivated to teach in an urban district.
- “It exceeded my goals. I never thought I would learn as much as I did. Through observing my mentor teacher, and participating in coaching sessions, participating in staff development days, and observing other Model Classroom teachers I have grown so much. I thought I was an OK teacher before I started, but this experience provided me with so many tools to be an effective teacher.”
- “This experience increased my commitment to working in an urban district. It is helpful to know of inspiring, ‘good’ teachers who are dedicated to improving their teaching. I loved learning about the program’s initiatives and being able to learn about teaching methods, which can engage students.”