Unbound Education Standards Institute Teacher Preparation Practitioners Team Time

Faculty Research Home Unbound Education Standards Institute Teacher Preparation Practitioners Team Time In mid-February, we were fortunate to spend a powerful week at UnboundEd’s Standards Institute with 1,200 educators from across the country. UnboundEd is an organization that is “dedicated to empowering teachers by providing free, high-quality, standards-aligned resources for the classroom” through online resources and immersive in-person trainings (Standards Institute). Educators unpacked the details of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) to better understand how to provide high-quality experiences for all students. We were challenged to look at what is currently accepted as “growth” in our students and to ask ourselves, Is that growth putting all students on track for college and career readiness? To that end, much of the week was spent examining the intersection of explicit equity with the Common Core State Standards. Recognizing that this work begins well before folks become teachers of record, teacher preparation practitioners attended to learn from UnboundEd and from one another. With faculty and staff from American University, Teacher Preparation Inspection (TPI-US), California State University — Bakersfield, TeachingWorks, Texas Tech University, U.S. PREP, Urban Teachers, National Center for Teacher Residencies (NCTR), Saint Paul Public Schools, Louisiana Tech University, University of St. Thomas, and Relay Graduate School of Education, we processed our learnings and experiences to determine what next steps we wanted to take within our respective programs. Specifically, we asked ourselves, Based off of our Standards Institute learnings and experiences, what actions will we take to improve candidate training in our program? Program leaders considered many aspects of their work such as coursework, equity, teacher educator colleagues, observation tools, performance gateway assessments, and candidate content training. After our first experience at Standards Institute in the winter of 2018, we scrutinized a course that we have co-taught in the past, EDUC 250: Teaching and Assessment, through a new lens. In thinking about the course learning outcomes for our residents, we realized that the standards needed to be at the center and that explicit connections to educational theory and equity needed to be made. As a result, the course now focuses on deepening residents’ understanding of the structure of the standards, the shifts in the standards, the study of high-quality, standards-aligned curricula, and how these three pieces each intersect with equity. Additionally, throughout the course, residents now gain an understanding of the rigor in the standards by cognitively engaging with the work that their future PK—12th grade students will be completing.  This means residents “do the work.” For example, residents solve mathematical word problems with various methods or annotate and analyze grade-level complex texts, in addition to internalizing lessons from standards-aligned curricula. As we prepare teach EDUC 250 this summer, much of our learnings and experiences from Standards Institute remain in our minds.  To continue to refine the course, we would like to step back and reexamine the degree to which the course outcomes are being met through the current learning experiences.  What is our evidence? Unbound Ed summarized the Standards Institute beautifully by stating, “This is what it takes to do this work: all of us, coming together, to push on the system and provide better for our kids before more students walk across the stage unprepared for life.” We’d like to adopt this charge moving forward in our work with PK—12th grade and graduate students too.

Ensuring Equity in Today’s Classrooms: How Bias Impacts Student Outcomes

Faculty Research Home Ensuring Equity in Today’s Classrooms: How Bias Impacts Student Outcomes Dr. Sha Fanion and Kamie Cowan presented their research at the 21st New Teacher Center Symposium—Converge: Rising Together for Student Success. It was held February 10–12, 2019, in Dallas, Texas. In their presented piece, Dr. Fanion and Ms. Cowan write: Implicit bias in educational environments, especially in today’s P–12 classrooms, can negatively impact student outcomes. However, this impact can be diminished when educators reflect on their own biases and how these biases affect their beliefs and actions with students. Participants reflect on their personal implicit and explicit biases to ensure equity in all classrooms so that all students’ needs are reflected upon, planned for, and met with purpose and fidelity. Participants also receive tools to extend this critical work with others when they return to their schools.

Charter Schools That Do Not Suspend

Faculty Research Home Aligning Teacher Educators’ Instructional Practices Around a Shared Vision for Special Education Alder Dean Dr. Nate Monley presented his dissertation research at the 2018 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Conference in New York City in April. Monley presented his paper “Charter Schools That Do Not Suspend” as part of the roundtable session “Safety and Discipline in School Choice Contexts.” The roundtable was held by the Charters & School Choice Special Interest Group (SIG) of AERA. The aim of this SIG is to “provide a non-partisan, multidisciplinary forum for research and discussion about various forms of school choice that empower parents with the decision of where to send their children to school.” In his presented paper, Monley writes: Charter schools attempt to write a new narrative in how America serves its children in public schools. While some charter schools in urban areas serving low-income students of color have shown promising routes to academic achievement, in some cases they have not confronted the inequitable patterns of discipline they perpetuate. In this project, I explore two small urban charter schools that are academically successful and do not suspend or expel their students, specifically their African-American and Latino male students. I filter this exploration through my own perspective as the former principal of a small urban charter school like the ones I study in this project. I synthesize a protective resilience frame with an organizational framework used to examine districts in order to organize and frame findings. Ultimately, this project and its findings should be useful for teachers and leaders in small urban charter schools seeking to organize in such a way as to limit exclusionary discipline.

Aligning Teacher Educators’ Instructional Practices Around a Shared Vision for Special Education

Faculty Research Home Aligning Teacher Educators’ Instructional Practices Around a Shared Vision for Special Education Alder Graduate School of Education’s Special Education faculty members Dr. Troya Ellis, Dr. Ilene Ivins, and Yumi Lifer had the privilege of attending the 2018 Annual American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference in New York City in April. The trip was funded through Alder’s Instructional Development Mini-Grant program, which aims to encourage innovation and the improvement of teaching and learning at Alder. We wrote the mini-grant with the hope of building a knowledge base around special education teacher preparation. Recurring, relevant, and urgent matters in the area of special education teacher preparation are as follows: having a shared accountability of all student learning and inclusive teacher prep, addressing the dichotomy between the equity tenets inherent in disability studies and the ableist methodologies prevalent in special education programs in practice, and recognizing the need for a grounding ethos or vision to inform special education teacher prep programs. We began our thinking in this work by attending a session called “Enacting Inclusive and Culturally Relevant Practices in Special Education Teacher Preparation,” where researchers Dr. Srikala Naraian (Teachers College, Columbia University), Dr. Sarah L. Schlessinger (Long Island University), and doctoral candidate Chris Bass (University of Illinois at Chicago) explored collaboration between general education and special education teachers as a lever for inclusion. Joyce Melissa Gomez-Najarro (Azusa Pacific) discussed dual-certification in both special education and general education; she found that dually certified educators were more likely to integrate creative practices in response-to-intervention programs as compared to their single-certified general education counterparts. Such findings point to the need for shared accountability and/or a stronger disability-rights education for general education credentialing programs. Dr. Molly Siuty (Portland State University) investigated the role of a GSE in preparing special educators to “disrupt” systems of racial bias and ableism. Her research suggests that a graduate preparatory program can partially mediate such dominant thinking, but that exposing students to theory was not enough to sustain the disruption. This study resonated with us as we reflected on our roles in either disrupting or advancing systemic bias toward “normalized” ability. Zooming out, we turned our focus from evidence-based studies to the more theoretical as we built curiosity of how disability studies intersect with critical race theory. The session “Cultural-Historical Approaches to Study the Teaching and Learning of Students with Dis/Abilities” was chaired by Patricia Martinez-Álvarez (Teachers College, Columbia University) and Federico R. Waitoller (University of Illinois at Chicago). This session was related to a seminal paper written by Dr. Waitoller and Dr. Kathleen King Thorius titled “Cross-Pollinating Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy and Universal Design for Learning: Toward an Inclusive Pedagogy That Accounts for Dis/Ability,” which calls for an interdisciplinary dialogue that recognizes and addresses the interrelated forces informing ableism and racism in public schools and, in particular, in special education practice. In the session, researchers illustrated the urgent need for special education to move away from a medical model to the more asset-based pedagogy of cultural-historical approach theory (CHAT), based on the early works of Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky. While the conversation in the room was cerebral and based on obtuse learning theory, we knew that this was a collection of thinkers whose work set the groundwork for disability studies in 2018. We remain excited to follow the evolution of this critical conversation. Our final day in New York City brought us uptown to visit Sue Carbary, Program Director of Early Childhood Special Education at Bank Street College of Education, to discuss their special education teacher prep model. Sue discussed Bank Street’s overall structure for student teachers’ fieldwork and shared syllabi for several core courses. She described evaluation methods and the strong emphasis placed on developing such “soft skills” in special education teachers as empathy, active listening, and being fully present with children and families. Bank Street’s commitment to engaging families was especially noteworthy. For instance, Bank Street’s early childhood student teachers are required to take a fieldwork course incorporating weekly family visits. Because Bank Street GSE focuses on teacher reflection as a means to build relationships between teachers and their students, fieldwork students are asked to journal seven to 10 pages weekly about their field experiences. Each student entry receives detailed feedback from the instructors. The frequency and rigor of both journal reflections and the instructor feedback resonated with our team as we considered how to bring such practices into our work. Sue further described Bank Street’s developmental interaction approach, a theory that grounds their teacher prep approach and focuses on the developmental needs of both students and early career teachers. She tied her work to the greater Bank Street credo, which was written with the participation of student teachers at the outset of the school’s founding nearly a century ago. Bank Street leaders have clearly tapped into the mission and credo to craft a pedagogically and technically rigorous program for its special education student teachers. The Alder GSE Special Education faculty left New York City inspired and better prepared to continue building Alder’s special education program while aligning instructional practices around a shared vision. The pedagogical/theoretical stances presented at AERA as well as the practical/technical learnings from Bank Street will undoubtedly lead to exciting developments within Alder’s special education praxis.