The Future of Michigan Education: Preparation and Support for Novice Teachers


♪♪ ANNOUNCER: State
of Teacher Preparation. Research and stories
from early years in the classroom is a
co-production of Regional Educational Laboratory
Midwest and Detroit Public Television with funding
provided by REL Midwest through funds provided
by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute
of Education Sciences. ♪♪ [no audible dialogue] COREY: Learning to
teach is always about learning to
teach something. LEAH: You can’t grow
if you don’t know what you’re
doing wrong. JENNIFER D: What
is good teaching? How would we know
what if we saw it? And that’s pushback on
teacher preparation. So now people are thinking
deeply about this, and they’re coming
together more to sort of see if they can agree. ♪♪ ♪♪ [no audible dialoge] DOMINIC: I wanted
to become a teacher because I love making
things interesting. ♪♪ IMANI: I love my kids. I see them growing. I see them changing,
and it’s amazing. TIFFANY: I love children
and I think that I’ve had some very inspiring teachers
when I was growing up. I just always had that
passion to become a teacher, and it
just stuck with me. NARRATOR: We sat down
with three novice teachers in metro Detroit. Their experiences draw
parallels to current research on preparing and
supporting new teachers, specifically the
importance of quality preparation, including
clinical experience and ongoing mentorship. We also spoke to veteran
teachers, school leaders, researchers and leaders
from teacher preparation programs in the Michigan
Department of Education about evidence-based best
practices for new teacher preparation and support in
Michigan and nationally as well as ideas for
continued improvement. ♪♪ TIFFANY: I went to Detroit
public schools growing up. I see the needs here now
and I feel like there’s no other place that I belong
other than teaching in Detroit. NARRATOR: Tiffany Ward
started her education career as a
paraprofessional in 2014 at Highland Park
Renaissance Academy. She is still at
the same school, but this is now her first
year as a certified teacher. JENNIFER D: There’s plenty
of evidence that clinical experience matters,
but it’s not a matter of just
many hours. There are some features of
it that make it more powerful. NARRATOR: Clinical
experience is the experience one gains while
working in the field such as in an internship or
through student teaching. In effort to get the
specific clinical experience needed to be a
successful novice teacher in Detroit, Tiffany
enrolled in TeachDETROIT, the teacher residency
program offered through Wayne State University. JENNIFER L: The idea was
to create a program that would train people
especially to work in Detroit schools, and that
would also build on the strengths of the city. From the very first day,
our students are in a school with children,
and they’ll rehearse an activity, and then they
go in and for 20 minutes, will work with children. JENNIFER D: Training in a
context and then having your first job in the
same kind of situation, you are going to be
a better teacher. And that evidence
is pretty strong. It’s even stronger if you
train in a particular school and end up
getting hired there. ♪♪ TIFFANY: I did my student
teaching at a Detroit public school, Malcolm
X-Paul Robeson Academy. And then I closed it out
here at Highland Park Renaissance Academy
teaching summer school. CHILD 1: 14. WOMAN 1: 14? Can you make a 10? We looked a lot at how
doctors are trained. Those novices are in
with more seasoned professionals
very early on. WOMAN 2: You have ten
and then how many little boxes do you have? CHILD 2: Three. JENNIFER L: And they teach
for half an hour every day in the beginning. Then we start increasing
that and we allow teachers to teach for longer
and bigger groups. We also looked at the
way athletes train, and that’s how we got
to the videotaping. Turns out athletes are
videotaped frequently and get critique on their
videos and actually helps them learn and grow. ♪♪ NARRATOR: One of the top
concerns for Tiffany as a novice teacher is
classroom management, especially since she
teaches very young students. She relies on her peers
and mentors at TeachDETROIT to help her plan her own
management strategies. KENDRA: Kindergarten is
a hard grade in itself. It’s not just always about
teaching ABC’s and 123’s. A lot of the kids have
never been to school before. I think that was difficult
in the beginning just because she was new
and they were new. ♪♪ TIFFANY: What comes after five
if you’re counting by ten? It’s different
every single day. All right, hang
your things up. They’re full of a
lot of emotions. And so sometimes when you
first walk in the door, it’s a lot of what went
on this morning or what went on last night. Do you need a hug? How are you feeling? Did you eat breakfast? I get to see the
TeachDETROIT students that’s been in the program
with me and some of the new TeachDETROIT students. And so we get to share our
experiences and really talk about how it’s
been going for our first year of teaching. And I think a lot of us
are having, you know, those same struggles with
classroom management. The director of the
program, Dr. Lewis, she’s been
giving us advice. It’s normal. It’s normal for a
first-year teacher to have some classroom
management issues. And even after ten
years of teaching, you’re gonna still have some
things that you struggle with. You’ve got to leave space. You see how there’s
space in between there? JENNIFER D: The very
first thing you need, it comes up again and
again in surveys, teachers say
classroom management, understanding how
to manage children. Next time write your
answers right below. OK? Because you want
to line them up. JENNIFER D: It’s about
things like setting classroom norms on day 1,
telling people what’s expected of them, giving
them good instructions, learning how to
hand out papers, learning how to
use the board. TIFFANY: Eyes on
the SMART Board. CHILDREN: Eyes on
the SMART Board. JENNIFER D: How
to use your voice. It’s a performance. JENNIFER L: Lots of
first-year teachers leave the profession. Lots more leave by year
three, and in large part, it’s because they feel that
they are not up to the task. The work is overwhelming. They feel that
they’re ineffective, and it was found
that good mentorship made a real difference. ♪♪ While our students
are in our program taking courses and going through
these clinical experiences with us, they
have mentors. But when they graduate, we
actually provide what we call induction mentors
for the first two years. ♪♪ We offer a lot
of support for our new teachers because our
instructional coach pretty much works one on one
with all of the teachers, and we’re able to really
see how much support each individual teacher needs. We have PLC meetings
weekly which is professional
learning community. The teachers are able to
meet with one another at least once a week to
discuss whatever is pressing that week. ♪♪ DOMINIC: I applied to Novi
twice throughout the summer. The first time was for a
middle school position that they found
somebody else for. The second one was a
high school position. Once I got the call, it
was every kind of resource that I had was completely
invested into this school. NARRATOR: Dominic Lis like
Tiffany is a novice teacher. He is a science instructor
at Novi High School and completed his
teacher preparation at Michigan State University. DOMINIC: The teacher prep
program at Michigan State has us in classrooms starting
our first year in it. I went to three different
schools for my service learning, and then after
we graduate our senior year, you get your
degree in your field, and then you progress to
your internship year. COREY: In the internship,
they are placed in a classroom for
five days a week, and then on the fifth day,
they come back to campus to take graduate
level classes. That allows really a much
longer time for learning to teach and kind of a
back and forth between learning about ideas,
trying them out in practice, coming
back and reflecting. There are plenty of
students or pre-service teachers who when they
enter this classroom or as a new teacher, the only
preparation they’ve had is a 12-week internship. That is their only
classroom experience. When we interview
candidates, it becomes very obvious
about who’s actually had experience, and some
of the people we’re interviewing have been
classroom teachers, and obviously they have
a huge advantage because they can speak from
classroom experience. NARRATOR: Even though
Dominic and Tiffany teach in two very different
school districts, their needs are similar,
and include clinical experience as
pre-service teachers. Like Tiffany, Dominic also
benefits greatly from an onsite mentor,
Emily Pohlonski. [no audible dialogue] EMILY: I mentor new
teachers in their first couple of years
here at Novi, and I think the type of
mentor I am with each of those individuals
is different. With a new teacher, it’s
a lot more directed. There’s some really
specific things that I want to make sure that they
know how to do and can do. DOMINIC: Emily’s been
through so many different types of training. I mean, just unit planning
and assessment writing, all of these things. And since she’s a
great teacher herself, she can just give
us that information. NICOLE: And she models the
behavior that we would want to see out of new
teachers like Dominic. We have mentors that
are assigned to all new teachers, so each one is
paired up with someone who has been, you know,
in the field for four to five
years minimally. And if they don’t
have a mentor, I would be really concerned
and apprehensive as to whether or not that person would
be able to be sustainable. ♪♪ Research shows that getting
good feedback from a good mentor
teacher is powerful, because, you know, when
you’re in the moment, you can’t see it yourself,
but having someone observe you, that kind of feedback
is very powerful. COREY: There are some things
that new teachers need, right? They need time. They need to have come
in with some content and pedagogy background and
then have spaces and opportunities to try new
things and to be able to learn from those things
and to realize that not everything is going to be
successful the first time. EMILY: I do not expect
them to be the best that they’re ever going to be,
but I expect that they have what it takes to
make sure I would feel OK putting my kid
in that room. After that, I expect them
to have an attitude that indicates that they get
that they’re not the best that they’re ever
gonna be and that they want to grow with us. LEAH: Feedback is so
important that it’s actually part of the Superintendent’s
Top 10 in 10 initiative. His goal is to be top
10 state in 10 years. I think it’s the single
most beneficial way in which a teacher can be
supported is have somebody that’s able to give
critical feedback and also be a partner with somebody
else as a mentor and share feedback with them. Blue and yellow
make what color? CHILD 3: Green. CHILD 4: Green? IMANI: I’ve always had an
aptitude for children, and people always told me
I should be a teacher. NARRATOR: Imani Sims comes
from a teaching family and attended private and
charter schools while growing up in Detroit. She is a former Teach for
America corps member and is finishing up her second
year as a kindergarten teacher at Munger, a K-8
Detroit public school. During her first year,
she did not have any significant mentorship. IMANI: There is no formal
mentorship program within Detroit Public Schools
which quite honestly, I wish there was one because
I was so lost last year. ♪♪ The biggest thing I guess
is that Ms. Briegel came in. When I first met her, she
was just full of life. Today we’re gonna talk
about things that are as big as a fire truck. ♪♪ IMANI: And was very
much like, hey, this is what I’m doing,
this is what I’m doing, this is what I’m doing. This is who I
am as a person. I really enjoy
helping people. NARRATOR: Fortunately,
one experienced Detroit educator took the
initiative to change the situation for Imani by
serving as an informal mentor to her. LISA: The very first day
of school we met each other. We have adjoining
classrooms. I took this classroom over from
a teacher that was retiring. So, I went through the
first seven years of my career without a mentor,
not only without a mentor, but without a evaluation
by an administrator. So, I had no feedback on
my teaching whatsoever. As far as having a mentor,
being assigned a mentor, that didn’t happen in
my career ever, ever, until I, 13 years in,
went to National Board Certification, and that’s
when I first discovered what a mentor was, someone
who helps you through the process, someone who
helped you reflect and think about teaching. And that’s when I think it
clicked for me that this is a key element
in this career. IMANI: I saw older
teachers asking her for help, and I didn’t feel
like some dumb young kid asking her for help
because like other people, (A) She offered. (B) She was all
about teamwork. (C) She seemed to be OK
with a reciprocal relationship. LISA: The mentor has to
want to mentor as much as the mentee wants to
have the mentoring. I don’t have to worry as
much about what I’m doing myself in the classroom. I can now share that
skill and knowledge. It’s taken 20-plus years, but
I feel that I’ve gotten there. ♪♪ IMANI: And it was really
nice to have Ms. Briegel, especially because
like our doors are, like I can literally walk
into her room from my room, and she can walk
into mine and just say, hey, just checking in on
you where I can say, hey, I don’t know
what’s going on. Please help me. There’s something about
feeling like you’re alone or maybe you’re doing
everything wrong and you don’t know because there’s
nothing to compare to. NARRATOR: Like Tiffany,
Imani deals with classroom management issues while
teaching kindergartners. And also like Tiffany,
Imani learned from her mentor that what she is
dealing with is not uncommon. LISA: It was rough. It’s tough to be in charge
of 25 kids and manage all those multiple behaviors
and yet learning my craft and what I need to know
how to do and what to do. ♪♪ It’s the management that has
to really be done on site. It’s not something you
can read in a book. You just have to do it. You have to be part of it,
and it’s a learning process. NARRATOR: Through
wise mentorship, the learning process can be
accelerated for new teachers. But, again, Ms. Briegel is
just an informal mentor who is there for Imani
only because of circumstance. ♪♪ LISA: Four years ago in
Detroit Public Schools, I oversaw a first-year
teacher mentoring program. To this day, those
teachers will contact me via e-mail or see me at a
workshop now and thank me for the little things
that they learned. Detroit, we need to
get back to that. We need to get back to specific
trainings just for them. ♪♪ NARRATOR: One of the most
daunting challenges in education today is
the recruitment and retention
of new teachers. JENNIFER D: One of the
interesting things going on in teacher prep right
now is that enrollment’s down across the board in
every kind of program, in every place. There was a survey done by
a group called Third Way in Washington, and they
surveyed the top 50% of graduates of universities,
and they asked them their perceptions of the
teaching profession. Is this something
they wanted to do? Is teaching an easy major? Is it a
well-respected thing? Does it pay well? And it was all negative. NARRATOR: While problems
with recruitment and retention of new teachers
might be caused by a variety of issues,
pay is one reason that consistently came up
in our interviews. LISA: Probably one of the
most phenomenal teachers I’ve seen in years I
mentored last year, and she left in
October this year. I don’t blame her. Wonderful for her. I think it was great, but
it broke my heart because the kids need great
teachers like that. How do we keep ’em? (laughs) Pay might be one way. DOMINIC: I’m a science
teacher by day, and by night, I’m
a football coach, a spring athletic
aide and a cook. I’m 25 years old. I have a lot of energy. I don’t know how many years
I can do working three jobs. It’s tough. IMANI: Quite honestly, if
I were to get married and start a family and my
salary didn’t raise, I wouldn’t be a teacher
anymore even though I love it, even though it
makes me so happy, I could not afford it. I just wouldn’t
be able to. ♪♪ JENNIFER L: No one comes
here because they think they’re going to
make a lot of money, but there is a limit to what
people are willing to do. Our program costs
about $25,000. And that’s not including
the loss of income that our pre-service teachers have
because they’re not working. But if we continue to have
that kind of tuition cost, we already lose out on a
whole bunch of people who don’t have the
ability to pay that. NARRATOR: Beyond just pay,
the problem of recruiting and retaining new teachers
may have as much to do with the public perception
of teaching as anything else. COREY: And I think what
has changed more is kind of the public discourse
around teaching, around these ideas that
there is no support, that it’s so hard, that
you’re evaluated right away, that you have these
high stakes assessments, that you have no
flexibility anymore. You just teach what
people give you. LISA: There’s so
little curriculum, but so high expectation
on test score. And so that makes it
really hard for a newer teacher to come in. You’re expected to have
a little bigger bag of tricks than you already
have, and you’re new. You don’t have it. LEAH: It’s been very easy to
blame teacher preparation, and the act of teaching
for student failure when I believe it actually is
a host of issues surrounding. There are systemic
problems around what is happening in schools. There are systemic poverty
issues that are greatly impacting student achievement
across the state. And until we kind of own
it as a team in a set of partners and provide
all of the wraparound resources that we need for
students to be successful. It’s not a problem we’re
going to solve just by changing the way we
teach teachers to teach, especially if we
can’t keep them there longer than five years. ♪♪ NARRATOR: With the
challenges laid out, educators and experts are
implementing changes now to teacher preparation in
looking at more strategies that could impact the
future in very positive ways. LEAH: People in the K-12 world
very much only see teacher preparation as the way
that they went through it regardless of how long ago
that was and what type of experience that they had. And our core group
is already out there communicating the things
that they have learned about teacher preparation,
and that in itself is huge. Our new teachers indicate
that they really do need additional mentoring
and induction. JENNIFER L: If clinical
experiences are included to a greater degree, let’s
make sure that they are the right kind of clinical
experiences and not just clocking hours in any
school with any kind of teacher and doing
any old thing. COREY: I’ve heard
proposals and ideas and districts trying things
where teachers are in the classroom part time and
supporting novices part time, or the novice teacher is not
working a full load, right? But is only working
part of the load. And the other part of
their work is around learning to teach,
around being supported, around getting to know
the school and community. There are some ideas, and
we’ve been trying them here at MSU, around
technology also and really having kind of distributed
support where cohorts of students say leaving here
and going into their first years of teaching in
lots of geographically dispersed places can still
have that community. LEAH: We would
like to see better quality clinical
experiences. We’d like to see greater
diversity in those placements so teachers
are working with a wider variety of students
in K-12 settings. So, MD has developed
a plan that addresses recruitment, placement,
support, professional learning, and we are aiming strategies
at the entire system. NARRATOR: Although novice
teachers do encounter many challenges, they also
achieve successes worth celebrating, particularly
if they receive adequate support and assistance. Of course, the defining feature
of a great teacher is passion. TIFFANY: Why I decided to
stay here for my first year of teaching is just
that camaraderie in knowing that there’s
people that I can go to and lean on and I
can get support from, and I know who
has my back. If you want to use your
fingers, that’s good. As of right now, my
long-term plans are really up in the air, but I know
for the next two or three years, I plan to be
teaching in the classroom. Not perfecting it because
I’ll probably never be perfect, but just getting
to the expert level of classroom management, of
teaching the curriculum, and just of being
a great teacher. ♪♪ KENDRA: I think
for Ms. Ward, the sky’s the limit. A really good
characteristic that I talk about when I talk about
people and working with them is them
being coachable. She’s incredibly
coachable. If she asks me something
and I give her some advice, she takes that
advice and she goes with it. TIFFANY: When you see that
light bulb go off or when they come to you
and say, Ms. Ward, I can read this sentence. Or, Ms. Ward, I read
this book all on my own. It’s nothing more
rewarding than seeing the students light up and
to see them learn. And I don’t have any
children as of yet, but all of the
kids in my class, those are my babies. They are my kids. My advice to Ms. Ward or
new teachers is don’t be afraid to ask for help,
and don’t be embarrassed. Build positive
relationships. Relationship
building is key. DOMINIC: I wanted to
become a teacher because I love making things
interesting. ♪♪ My goal was to try to
bring in everybody and get everybody to feel
connected to what was going on in
the classroom. ♪♪ EMILY: I still learn all
the time from Dominic. It helps me stay fresh,
and it forces me to be more reflective of
my own practice, and I think about all the
kids that are in his room. They deserve a
great teacher, and we are so grateful
that we have him. DOMINIC: I’m still just
in awe every day of the things that I see from the
kids that I work with and the colleagues
that I have. It’s just incredible to
be in a place like this. The reason why I keep
going is because I feel like I really don’t
have any bad days here. NICOLE: Observing him this
year has been a breath of fresh air for me. There’s something about
the environment that he’s established, the
relationships that he has with the kids, I mean,
it gives me chills just talking about it. I got choked up
last week talking. I mean, that’s not normal. Like to get choked up
talking to a first-year teacher during their
end-of-the-year evaluation meeting is not the norm. But it’s like the level
of excitement that he has about this profession and
the pride that he has in the profession, If I
could bottle it up and pass it
out, I would. LISA: When I came in, the
first thing Imani and I did was chatted
about some things, about the building,
about the atmosphere, about the students. I believe I even
said to her, I’m here to help you
as much as I’m here to get help from you. And from that
point, we clicked. So, it’s without a
doubt, a two-way street. IMANI: And I was excited
that I would be learning about a new culture ’cause
I’m African-American, and most of my
kids are Hispanic. I was excited that I would
be able to teach them the things that my mom taught
me and show them the things that my
mom showed me, and just expose them to
this whole new world and watch them grow. Teaching children how
to learn and teaching children to fall in love
with learning, it’s so exciting. It’s so great. Sorry, I get really
excited about teaching. It’s so much fun. ♪♪ ANNOUNCER: State
of Teacher Preparation. Research and stories
from early years in the classroom is a
co-production of Regional Educational Laboratory
Midwest and Detroit Public Television with funding
provided by REL Midwest through funds provided
by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of
Education Sciences. This program was funded
by TRAC Research Group. ♪♪

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