Source: Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 60, No. 5, p. 478-488. (November/December 2009). (Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This article describes the Boston Teacher Residency (BTR), a comprehensive teacher recruitment, preparation, and induction program created by and housed in an urban school district, the Boston Public Schools (BPS).
The article argues for several core principles in the creation of such a program.
a) BTR Serves the BPS: BTR Recruitment and Admissions
BTR is designed and operates to serve BPS. It makes decisions based on what is best for the district, and specifically for the district’s children and families. The bottom-line mission to serve BPS influences every aspect of BTR’s operation, from the way it recruits and selects Residents (teachers who are recruited to the program), to its preparation of those Residents, to the support it provides after graduation.
b) BTR Blends Theory and Practice: The Residency Year
The program has a responsibility not only to present diverse viewpoints and perspectives to Residents, but also to provide mechanisms for the Resident to make sense of the viewpoints held by the many teacher educators he or she encounters. The Mentor teacher needs to be in regular conversation with the course instructor, for example, so that they are both involved in supporting the Resident to shape a philosophy and approach to teaching.
c) Residents Focus on Learning Alongside an Experienced, Trained Mentor
The role of the Mentor teacher and the mentoring school are critical to BTR Residents’ development. BTR carefully selects and collaborates with BPS host schools in which it places cohorts of Residents. Within these host schools, BTR carefully selects, trains, compensates, and supervises Mentor teachers. The Mentor teacher serves as the primary, though by no means the sole, guide to the Resident over the year.
d) Teacher Development Extends Beyond Preparation: BTR’s Induction Program for Graduates
BTR is conceived as a 4-year program, comprised of 1 year of preparation and 3 years of induction support. As a BPS program, BTR’s key outcomes occur only after the preparation year: (a) the retention of our graduates in the BPS, (b) their effectiveness as measured by supervisors and independent evaluators, and (c) their ability to help students make significant academic progress (Feiman-Nemser, 2001). As such, BTR’s induction component is critical to its success and is linked closely and carefully with the first-year preparation program.
e) Student Achievement as BTR’s Bottom Line
As BTR has developed, it has reached the conclusion that it should ultimately be measured by the academic achievement of the students in its graduates’ classrooms. BTR wants its teachers to produce measurable and significant gains in student learning.
This article has tried to describe BTR’s central ideas and practices in an effort to contribute to a larger conversation about how school districts might build the kinds of teaching forces they need to meet the challenges of 21st-century public education. Teacher preparation should not continue as an institution isolated from the schools and school districts it aims to serve; likewise, school districts cannot continue to outsource so much of their human capital development work. Rather, these efforts must be combined.
Feiman-Nemser, S. (2001). From preparation to practice: Designing a continuum to strengthen and sustain teaching. Teachers College Record, 103, 1013-1055.