College of Education showcases innovative clinical residency program
Louisiana Tech University’s TEAM Model Clinical Residency Program had an opportunity to showcase itself this week during a visit to Lincoln Parish by Julie Stephenson and Rebecca Freeland of the Louisiana Department of Education’s (LDOE) Believe and Prepare Educator Grant Program. The TEAM (Teacher Educators and Mentors) program at Louisiana Tech represents a transformative redefinition of the expectations and roles of teacher educators and school mentors in the clinical experiences. The program, co-directed by Drs. Dawn Basinger and Amy Vessel from Louisiana Tech’s College of Education, has been embedded in several Lincoln Parish elementary schools. Participating interns are prepared for initial certification in a co-teaching environment surrounded by a TEAM of support.“The success we are seeing in the TEAM model is a testament to every single team member of our model, from the principals to district leaders to university leadership to the interns,” said Vessel. “However, the true key to the clinical residency program success continues to be the involvement of highly qualified and motivated mentor teachers.” Michelle Chauvin, lead mentor and teacher at Cypress Springs Elementary in Ruston, modeled the TEAM evaluation system with intern Laura Davidson. Candice Cole, mentor and teacher at Glen View Elementary in Ruston, co-taught mathematics with Louisiana Tech intern Destiny Maxwell, using a parallel co-teaching strategy. Louisiana Tech interns and Lincoln Parish mentors participated in interviews at each of the schools including Ruston Elementary where Louisiana State Superintendent John White made a surprise visit. White praised the strength of the partnership between Louisiana Tech’s teacher preparation program and Lincoln Parish Schools which he says is exemplified by the early success of the clinical residency program and TEAM model. White also shared his perspective on the value of the clinical residencies and offered the TEAM members an opportunity to share their reflections on this innovative instructional experience. “This new and innovative approach to teacher training replaces the traditional student teaching model that was one-quarter/semester in duration, with a full-year clinical experience guided by highly qualified mentors,” said Basinger. Louisiana Tech’s College of Education and Lincoln Parish School Board were among the state leaders in piloting a full-year (clinical residency) student teaching program with 11 volunteers during the 2014-2015 academic year. The next phase of this transition is occurring this year with 14 interns being placed in three local elementary schools. Dr. Don Schillinger, dean of Louisiana Tech’s College of Education, says this research-based exploration of longer and richer clinical experiences is expected to result in enhanced accountability, more rigorous teacher candidate selection and placement, increased integration of proven curricula, strengthened public school-university partnerships, and improved identification of what works and how to best support continuous improvement. “While implementing this plan is achievable and worthwhile, it will be challenging in that it requires a reallocation and increase of resources and staffing and increased commitment by teacher candidates,” Schillinger said. “Given the challenges, we are very enthusiastic about the positive outcomes resulting from the collaboration occurring between the college’s teacher preparation professionals and the education leaders in Lincoln Parish.” Dr. Bryan McCoy, chair of the department of curriculum, instruction and leadership added, “We are indebted to the LDOE for the seed funding provided by Believe and Prepare grants that serve as the activation energy and support to enact these transformative initiatives.” In August 2015, the Clinical Residency Research Center was established in the College of Education to conduct research on the effectiveness of instructional models associated with clinical residency and mentoring. Through additional funding provided by the LDOE Believe and Prepare grants, new school mentor teams have been identified, and training is extending beyond Lincoln Parish to our new partners in Ouachita, Claiborne and Union Parishes.