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‘More Than Just a Score’: Making edTPA Work for Early Education

News - Fri, 07/08/2016 - 1:35pm

The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

At City University of New York’s Lehman College in the Bronx, our early childhood education students are known for their strong work ethic and resilience. Most are working parents, some with long commutes to class on public transit, and approximately 70% are bilingual, having learned English as a second language.

Early on in the edTPA process, we set out to disprove the contention that teachers of very young children – our teachers work with kids as young as 2 years old – would not score well on the assessment. It’s true that it can be challenging to reflect and write about giving feedback to such young students, especially when some of our teachers struggle with written English. But our students led the way in determining developmentally appropriate ways to provide feedback, and they documented their work during writing workshops on the weekends.

In the end, that hard work paid off. Every one of our teachers who submitted edTPA in Early Childhood passed, most with Mastery. We got there by using the assessment for more than just a score – we made it a central component of how our students thought about teaching. Here’s what we learned.

  1. Get faculty into the classroom.

    We send our seminar instructors into student teachers’ classrooms. These visits allow faculty to understand the individual strengths and needs of each student and to tailor lessons to the candidate’s grade level and unique circumstances. But just as importantly, they give us the chance to have conversations with our best resources: our directors, principals, and cooperating teachers. Some of them even attended seminars with our students!

  2. Take advantage of digital technology.

    We find that candidates do best when given immediate feedback on their work. And since so many of our students have family responsibilities and often work full-time, they do much of their writing remotely on the weekends. Quick and clear communication is critical. By using Taskstream as an edTPA platform, and allowing our students to text their instructors for quick answers, we can give candidates the feedback needed in a timely fashion.

  3. Faculty who score edTPA know edTPA.

    Despite the hectic demands of the semester, I found the time to train as an edTPA scorer. I’m glad I did. It helped me understand the importance of the rubrics and gave me confidence that my students could prove their abilities as outstanding teachers.

  4. Utilize the resources around you.

    With a tech support team and early childhood librarian who both have intimate knowledge of edTPA and its handbooks, we are well-equipped to support our students in every way.

If faculty members focus only on getting candidates to pass a test, we’re not making the best use of our students’ time – or preparing them to be effective teachers. But by integrating edTPA into our everyday practice and allowing both students and faculty to use it as a tool for reflection, Lehman College showed that edTPA can be much more than just a test.

Kym Vanderbilt is a lecturer in early childhood education at City University New York’s Lehman College.

Students Engage, Advocate Through Holmes Network

News - Fri, 07/08/2016 - 12:28pm

As participants in the William Paterson University (WP) Holmes Network–part of the AACTE Holmes Program–we have enjoyed many new and stimulating opportunities. Throughout the past year, we’ve received mentorship and other valuable support as Holmes Honors students (undergraduates in teacher preparation programs) and Holmes Master’s students (in-service teachers in graduate programs), and last month we capped it all off with an inspiring trip to AACTE’s Washington Week.

The Holmes Experience
The WP Holmes Network provides support not only in our professional careers, but also in our personal lives. The programs are training us to be leaders who are effective in influencing our schools and communities, and our experiences in the network shape us into more thoughtful and well-rounded educators. The program has given us the opportunity to meet with our dean of education to voice our concerns for the university’s programs. We are building relationships between in-service and preservice teachers that guide and support our journey toward degree completion, and the network allows us a nurturing environment to communicate and learn from one another. Outside our institution, the Holmes Program has connected us with participants and professionals around the country, both virtually and at events like the AACTE Annual Meeting and Washington Week.

Holmes Summer Policy Institute
The Holmes Summer Policy Institute was so much more than a lesson in advocacy. The atmosphere was full of refreshing energy and allowed us to gain knowledge and speak freely in a safe space, but it also led us to imagine new possibilities. The expertise of Holmes Scholars and other participants instilled within us strength and encouragement, leaving us inspired to work harder and achieve more with our lives. Meeting people of color who hold scholarly, powerful positions within our nation–and the strong doctoral candidates who embodied a pathway from “us” to “them”–proposed the notion “We can.” It left a stamp within our hearts that we, too, are capable of this success and do not have to allow the label “at risk” define us. Being surrounded by strong-willed scholars especially brought us enlightenment and inspired us to persevere.

Best day ever #dayonthehill #AACTEWW16 #Veteran #edreform #wpunj @AACTE pic.twitter.com/HPKCkKkE5K

— Ms.Cunningham (@ms_science) June 8, 2016

Day on the Hill
Stating the words “Day on the Hill” starts the racing of the heart and places a smile upon the face. After rehearsing our pitch late into the night before the event, we all felt ready to go.

The day began with a literal walk in the park, but was soon followed by running, loud expressions of shock and awe, and time checks. We walked into each congressional office, coming face to face with powerful figures who drive our futures as college students, educators, and citizens.

When reflecting on these experiences, we are overcome with gratitude. Washington Week was breathtaking and overwhelming, yet delightful and humbling. Before attending this event, we were unaware of the importance and significance of the student voice. It is moving to know that our congressmen and women are attentive to their constituents. Now, we have learned that power lies within a collective of people who are willing to put in the work and press onward to a clear, focused vision.

Juan Betancur and Agustin Castillo are Holmes Honors students and Azaria Cunningham and Francisco Ocasio are Holmes Master’s students at William Paterson University. Holmes Scholar Sharon Leathers is the university’s Holmes coordinator.

Small Steps, but No Major Push, to Integrate New York’s Schools

New York Times Education - Wed, 07/06/2016 - 3:09pm
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration and the city’s Education Department have not offered broad plans for addressing the issue of school segregation, but grass-roots experiments are underway.
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'Top universities to offer full degrees online in five years'

BBC Education News - Wed, 07/06/2016 - 10:21am
Leading universities will offer fully accredited undergraduate courses online within five years, says the founder of a leading US online university network.
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