NExT universities continue to develop and strengthen ties with their K-12 partners. These relationships will become increasingly important as teacher-preparation programs seek to place their graduates in schools that will support their success.
For instance, with its K-12 partners, St. Cloud State University (SCSU) has expanded its formal mentoring program for student teachers. Through this program, each student teacher is paired with an experienced teacher for an entire semester. “We provide a series of co-teaching workshops to all of the student/teacher pairs to train them and give them the foundational knowledge to build their relationship,” said Becky Krystyniak, Ph.D., co-director of SCSU’s Teacher Preparation Initiative. “Then, throughout the student-teaching experience, the students receive coaching from their collaborating teacher through specific strategies, such as parallel teaching, cooperative teaching or team teaching.” The approach is working, Krystyniak said, and the model developed by SCSU is now being replicated across the region and country.
The three universities in the Valley Partnership – Minnesota State University-Moorhead, North Dakota State University (NDSU), Valley City State University – have welcomed K-12 partner teachers and administrators to participate on several cross-institutional working groups and also on their individual campuses. For example, NDSU is collaborating with Fargo Public Schools to introduce virtual field experiences for teacher candidates using special cameras. According to William Martin, Ph.D. professor and head of the NDSU school of education, “This involved negotiating with district administrators, NDSU faculty and campus tech support, and the principal and teacher who will pilot the use of this technology.” NDSU has received enthusiastic responses to the virtual field experience concept, which in turn is generating invitations to collaborate more closely on all aspects of preparation and placement in district schools.