two women discussing their lesson plans
Leveraging state partnerships to develop effective methods for training entry-level teachers

At the state level, TeachingWorks is collaborating with two networks of university-based teacher preparation programs in Maryland and Michigan, each with six member institutions, to develop powerful ways of training beginning teachers to teach skillfully and with care from their first day in the classroom.

These networks of education faculty members, researchers, teacher educators, and teacher preparation program administrators meet regularly throughout the academic year to develop a common language and understanding of the high-leverage practices. In sessions facilitated by TeachingWorks, members of the program networks work on developing and practicing new methods of teacher education while members of TeachingWorks provide coaching, feedback, and support.

“Many teacher preparation programs have not centered their curricula on the core tasks necessary for skillful teaching, such as interacting with families and assessing students’ progress.” Francesca Forzani, Deputy Director, TeachingWorks

“Many teacher preparation programs have not centered their curricula on the core tasks necessary for skillful teaching, such as interacting with families and assessing students’ progress. Instead, teachers’ training focuses on learning about teaching, rather than learning to teach,” said TeachingWorks Deputy Director Francesca Forzani. “Both program networks operate with the goal of transforming teacher preparation at their institutions by adjusting their courses to give their novice teachers opportunities to practice the fundamentals. By focusing on developing these resources and experiences for better preparing beginning teachers to do good work in the classroom, we have a powerful role to play in these state networks in advancing learning opportunities for each child in this country.”

Fostering community is a key emphasis of each program network as the institutions collaborate to identify shared challenges in preparing teachers and develop and try out solutions to managing these challenges.

TeachingWorks Partners with University-Based Teacher Preparation Programs in Maryland and Michigan
Michigan Program Network

Launched in 2015, the Michigan Program Network (MiPN) comprises educators from six institutions across the state: Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, Michigan Technological University, Oakland University, and Spring Arbor University. This year, MiPN participants focused their work on developing ways to better bring the voices of mentor teachers—practicing teachers who host and mentor teacher candidates in their classrooms—into the program network community more broadly. This included exploring ways to recognize mentor teachers as teacher educators and to support them in coaching teacher candidates on high-leverage practices while they are in their field placements.

Oakland University, for example, has worked closely with a small group of mentor teachers who serve as liaisons within their schools, helping other mentor teachers understand and support their teacher candidates in learning to enact the high-leverage practices. Grand Valley State University is an active partner in the School- Based Teacher Education Partnership, a collaboration between their teacher educators, mentor teachers in Grand Rapids Public Schools, and TeachingWorks.

“Partnering through teaching practice is mutually beneficial to mentor teachers and the teacher educators who train beginning teachers in field placements,” said TeachingWorks Director of Partnerships Karen Ahn. “The collaboration allows teacher educators to better tailor their work with beginning teachers to be more relevant to children, and better fit the contexts in which they are likely to teach.”

Maryland Program Network

Launched in 2017, the Maryland Program Network (MdPN) comprises more than 30 teacher educators and program administrators from Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Salisbury University, Towson University, and University of Maryland, College Park.

The unique contexts of the institutions make for a significant potential in shifting the education landscape in the state of Maryland. Towson University, for example, produces more teachers than any other university in the state. Bowie State University and Coppin State University, both Historically Black Colleges and Universities, have a specific focus on preparing teachers of color.

“Our hope is that we’re able to leverage the unique contexts and expertise of all of the universities in the Maryland Program Network to create a robust pipeline of skilled and diverse teachers in the state,” said Director of English Language Arts Monique Cherry-McDaniel.

This year, the group has focused on using the practice of eliciting and interpreting student thinking to understand the perspectives, ideas, and resources each child brings to instruction and to disrupt biases against children of color in classrooms. They have worked on developing methods of helping their beginning teachers recognize all children as smart, capable, and valued in classrooms. “The Maryland Program Network recognizes that the basis of skillful teaching is that all children are capable and competent learners, and that their voices are important and need to be cultivated,” Cherry-McDaniel said. “Our work together over the past year has shown that network members are committed to ensuring their teacher candidates are prepared to view all children as sense-makers.”