As states across the country grapple with growing teacher shortages and seek to build a teacher workforce that is well equipped to meet the diverse learning needs of our nation’s students, more and more school systems are turning to teacher residencies — yearlong clinical experiences that pair teacher candidates with highly effective mentor teachers in a Pk-12 classroom — as a pillar of their talent pipeline strategy.
Teacher residencies have emerged as a highly successful model of teacher preparation, developing candidates who are more diverse, more likely to stay in the classroom longer, and have a greater impact on student learning outcomes. Over 30 colleges of education are among a growing number of universities partnered with University School Partnerships for the Renewal of Educator Preparation (US PREP), a national coalition of teacher preparation institutions, to implement scaled and sustainable yearlong teacher residencies.
The transformation of these preparation programs to a yearlong residency includes reallocating, reducing, and reinvesting existing college resources, capacity, and budgets to scale and sustain the residency approach to preparation across all programs and pathways. National partners like the Pathways Alliance and US PREP have codified definitions of residency. Taken together, the essential elements of residency include:
- A yearlong clinical teaching experience that allows teacher candidates for 3-5 days per week to experience a complete school year before becoming a teacher of record, including strong supervision, regular feedback from highly effective trained mentor teachers, coaching, and professional development;
- Highly effective mentor teachers that support candidates via co-teaching models, gradual release of instructional responsibilities, and regular observation and coaching; and
- Strong district partnerships that include shared decision-making, aligned expectations for candidate preparation, regular sharing of data, coordinated recruitment, placement, and hiring processes that reflect the needs of the District.
Robust residency programs also include the following elements:
- Site Coordinators who help bridge the university (faculty/instructor coursework) and the district (selecting/coaching highly effective mentor teachers, selecting clinical placement sites, completing more regular and impactful observation and coaching cycles with candidates, leading governance, etc.);
- Practice-based coursework aligned to the program’s instructional framework and clinical fieldwork that supports candidates in effectively using high-quality instructional materials to best develop Pk-12 students;
- Consistent use of teacher candidate evaluation instruments to measure teacher candidates’ competencies and implementation of standards aligned instruction; and
- Collecting, analyzing, and using data for continuous improvement via routine data use structures and protocols