Boston Teacher Residency: Creating teachers who teach ambitiously

2.19.16 By Jennifer Amigone

This blog post written by Jennifer Amigone originally appeared on the MSDF Blog: http://www.msdf.org/blog/2016/02/jennifer-amigone-boston-teacher-creating-teachers-who-teach-ambitiously/

This is part of a series of case studies that highlight how four teacher preparation programs define data literacy training for their teacher candidates. In partnership with WestEd, we studied four programs – Western Oregon University, Boston Teacher Residency, Relay Graduate School of Education and Urban Teachers – to help shed light on what constitutes a quality program and how each approaches data literacy.

In 2003, BPE set off on a bold journey to create a new model of clinically-based teacher education. As a result, over the past 12 years, BPE has prepared more than 600 teachers for the Boston Public Schools through the nationally recognized and replicated Boston Teacher Residency (BTR) program.  Throughout this period, we’ve continuously sought to improve and evolve our model based on what we’ve learned, as well as changing contexts and data.

In July 2016, we will welcome our first cohort of BTR residents who will be learning to teach entirely in our neighborhood-based Teaching Academies: the Dudley Street Neighborhood Charter School (DSNCS) and the Dearborn STEM Academy. Modeled after teaching hospitals, our Teaching Academies immerse aspiring Boston teachers in the best practices of the field. Our BTR “teacher residents” work side by side with experienced colleagues to implement research-based practices, examine their impact on student learning, and refine instruction until every child is successful.

A new chapter

This represents our new chapter in teacher education, one we believe will dramatically accelerate the achievement of students and produce effective teachers who teach ambitiously. As BTR founder and Executive Director Jesse Solomon states, “I want to train teachers who are obsessed with kids’ learning.” Now three years into our first school, DSNCS, we have been able to cultivate an entire school obsessed with kids’ learning. And by providing the accompanying tools, resources, training and support, this obsession is translating into measurable outcomes in which everyone is continually focused and accountable.

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation recently published a case study that documents the evolution of the BTR Using Data course from a stand-alone course seeking to fill in an identified gap in our curriculum to one better integrated into residents’ other coursework and field experience. As we pivot toward the next phase of this work in Teaching Academies, we’re excited to more fully control the contexts in which our residents teach and learn. We want teacher residents to experience using data not as a series of events or assignments but rather as an integral and inescapable part of their entire experience.

Data in action

We are already seeing this play out at DSNCS where our residents have been sitting side-by-side with teachers – many of whom are BTR grads – looking at and planning from all sorts of data: PARCC results, interim assessments, exit tickets, as well as attendance and behavioral data. They’re learning to triangulate data, ask questions of the data and test hypotheses. Residents are gaining experience manipulating data in Google sheets and creating visuals. They’re participating in grade-level meetings facilitated by our Directors of Instruction, who also teach their BTR math and literacy courses, looking at student work, engaging in test-in-hand analysis, using data to establish guided reading groups, and creating tools to track progress. They’re observing mentor teachers taking efficient conferring notes, leading parent conferences, and having data-based conversations with students and families in which goals are set and commitments are made.

This is authentic, grounded work in which we’re all accountable for the outcomes of the kids sitting in front of our teacher residents. It’s inescapable: our walls are covered with data. These are our students, our teachers, our schools. We feel we’ve only begun to scratch the surface, but the potential is enormous.

Click here to see the BTR Study: http://public.cdn.msdf.org/MSDF_teacherprep_BTR.pdf

more from Jennifer Amigone on the blog

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