What could teaching look like if teachers had to complete a residency program?

In 2004, when I became a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT), I was excited to join a professional network pushing the profession forward. What I found was an organization with high ideals, committed professionals, but no vision as to how to move forward. As I have written before, this is how I found the Center for Teaching Quality (CTQ).

Only two days before my renewal as an NBCT I learned of a new effort, a collective vision, to move the profession forward. A new organization, brought together by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), is a collective of over 100 professional stakeholder organizations in the teaching profession. The organization, called the Coalition for Teaching Quality, (link is external)*  has set forth a vision for leveling up the profession.

The Coalition’s vision is based on a simple premise. Raising the preparation and credentialing process of teachers to the level of doctors, with the transformation of NBCT status into THE standard for the profession through alignment of the NBC designation with Board Certification of doctors. This proposal includes four key steps, two old and two new, that create a stronger foundation for the profession.

The coalition puts for the idea that teachers should complete a 4 step process to becoming a “Teacher of Record” (TOR) in our public schools. The first is a bachelor’s degree in an appropriate discipline. A degree for middle and secondary teachers would most likely be in a content area, for elementary teachers a degree in sociology or psychology. This is not new to the profession.

The second step is new. The Coalition supports the idea of completion of a state-approved teacher preparation program. Successfully completing a state-approved preparation program that “includes clinical experiences that use models of accomplished practice and instructors with K-12 experience to prepare teacher candidates for the realities of the classrooms and the schools they will encounter.” While this step is fairly traditional it is a change in direction for the country in that it calls into question quick-stop certification programs that expect new teachers to learn as they go.

The third step is completion of a residency program. This step aligns the profession more closely with the medical profession in that it requires close supervision by accomplished practitioners not semester long student-teaching assignments. I have seen the value of residencies in my own city as the Richmond Teacher Residency program (link is external), hosted by the Center for Teacher Leadership (link is external)at Virginia Commonwealth University,has staffed Richmond area schools with qualified young teachers in hard-to-staff urban schools. Residencies would change the focus from preparing to be a teacher to acting as a teacher with higher education supervision. This would also require collaboration between higher ed and local school systems and suggests a blurring of lines between those that prepare teachers and those that teach.

The fourth step is critical. It calls for a performance assessment of teacher practice. EdTPA is strategically positioned for this new step in TOR preparation. I have looked closely at edTPA know that it is a challenging assessment. It is more than a test of teacher knowledge. One of the challenges those completing edTPA face is the time constraint of completing the assessment in a 8-16 week student teaching placement. By moving to a residency model I this challenge would be addressed along with providing teacher candidates a more nuanced understanding of teacher practice before attempting edTPA. Once the profession has moved to Teacher of Record model as opposed to a Teacher by Credential model we will start to see many of the benefits of accomplished practice.

Finally, the National Board process would serve as the standard for the profession similar to board certification in medicine.

This bold vision offers opportunities for inclusion of accomplished teacher voice at every level, including designing teacher preparation, serving as residency mentors, and in assisting teacher candidates in edTPA completion. As a newly recertified NBCT I feel like the NBPTS is finally moving the profession forward and I have arrived at the place I hoped to find 10 years ago.

*Yes, that name does sound similar to your friendly neighborhood teacher leadership Collaboratory. CTQ is a member of the coalition.

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