Foreword As advanced technologies enter the mainstream of everyday life, more than half of K-12 school districts are already offering — or interested in starting — blended and online learning programs.
With the addition of modern tools and resources, what school looks like today — and how classroom teachers teach — changes dramatically. There are human capital issues around making sure teachers are skilled in managing the educational process for students: part concierge (expanding resources through digital content and tools) and part coach or guide, providing improved instructional approaches that are student-centered and personalized for each student’s needs and interests.
This naturally leads to asking our teacher preparation programs to modernize and adapt to these new realities. Programs that provide teacher licensure preparation must be responsible for training today’s teaching workforce for today’s educational needs, not yesterday’s “one classroom, one textbook” model of lecture learning — continuously modernizing skills, methods and strategies to ensure a new generation of teachers are successful with a new generation of students.
New school models are evolving that measure individual achievement based on each student’s learning needs using data, a wider range of academic content choices, new teaching methods, tools, platforms and resources to offer services that are not one-size-fits-all. Rather, they are customized for each child. It is only reasonable that educators seeking to enter into these emerging learning environments should have their training supplemented by practical experience using the tools, techniques and pedagogy inspired by and required for successful teaching (and learning) within digital learning environments.
However, a national survey of teacher education programs conducted in 2012 found that a paltry 1.3% of them were preparing their teachers for next generation learning models. That survey and subsequent studies have identified the need for a dramatic shift in the skills and methods for educator preparation toward next generation learning models, which require many of the same skills as traditional education, yet a more comprehensive set of skills to navigate a diverse range of learning environments — including blended, online, competency-based models emerging in anytime, everywhere traditional classrooms and schools.
Too few educator and leadership preparation programs are up to the task of modernized teacher training for the 21st century. A bright spot, however, has been the growing number of innovative teacher preparation programs that have formed partnerships with blended and online schools around the country.
As they did in their book Lessons Learned in Teacher Mentoring, Drs. Archambault and Kennedy uncover and explore those developing best practices in innovative teacher preparation for next generation learning environments so the field can build upon the work of these pioneering leaders.
This report studies the best practices necessary to rethink the skills, methods and pedagogical evolution that teacher education must address. If we are to ensure great teachers are trained, mentored and retained for our students — the programs themselves must emulate 21st century skills for individualized student learning — no matter where or how a student learns best. The examples found in this report have unique elements and frameworks that others may learn from and replicate.
No teacher should start their career with anything less than complete confidence that they have been effectively prepared for Day One. The partnerships highlighted here are poised to make that a reality and provide guideposts to rethinking and modernizing educator preparation programs for today’s schools.
Topic(s): blended learning, online learning, research, teaching