As educator preparation programs prepare teacher candidates to be successful in the classroom on day one, they recognize that they must anchor that preparation in teacher residencies – high-quality clinical experiences where candidates receive a full year of practice under an experienced, highly effective mentor teacher in a K-12 classroom. What’s more, these experiences optimally take place in a school and district that is partnering deeply with the university program.
The University School Partnerships for the Renewal of Educator Preparation (US PREP) has been working with cohorts of university-based teacher preparation programs to redesign their preparation models. An essential element of newly designed staffing models is the site coordinator. Site coordinators are full-time faculty members who support residents during their clinical experiences, working on-site at schools to train mentors, supervise residents, and shape coursework based on the needs of the district’s students. Their role combines practice based instruction in one or more university courses, along with the hands-on guidance that both residents and their mentor teachers receive. This deep collaboration with district and school leaders helps to make university-district partnerships successful at scale.
Some leaders from partner districts say that the greatest impact they have seen has come from US PREP’s support of mentor teachers and residents through its work to structure and scale the site coordinator role as a bridge between the university program and the district.
To help university-based teacher preparation programs prepare to scale up the number and capacity of their own site coordinators, US PREP has released a paper examining the way that three programs in the US PREP network have designed and scaled the role of site coordinator to support their programmatic redesign and to extend strong, yearlong clinical teaching experiences to all programs and graduates. The paper explores the challenges and lessons learned that each program has discovered that can help other university-based teacher preparation programs consider how they might scale up their residents’ clinical experiences in partnership with mentor teachers in nearby districts and schools.