By: Dr. Catherine Snyder
While the media reports looming job losses across some economic sectors, one area that is continually seeing growth is K-12 education. Teaching is a great profession to enter now because teachers are in demand. The reality is that states across the nation are facing teacher shortages, and the need for highly qualified, rigorously trained teachers has perhaps never been greater. The need is acute in science and technology and is particularly great in foreign languages. As taxpayers and/or parents, we should demand that these positions are filled with qualified applicants, and as people entering the profession, they should choose programs that prepare new teaching professionals to be ready for the future.
California is making news this month with a new plan to earmark $75 million dollars to expand teacher training to include a full-year residency in a classroom. It’s long been generally agreed upon that giving would-be teachers the chance to spend a whole year in the classroom alongside an experienced teacher is highly beneficial and leads to reduced turnover, but only a handful of Masters of Arts in Teaching programs in the nation require it.
One of those programs is Clarkson University in upstate New York, where all graduates of the MAT program have long been required to spend a full year in the classroom. Teacher residencies haven’t been a widespread practice because of the cost and time involved, but the results are clear: for the past three years, Clarkson has distinguished itself among its peers by producing a 100% job placement rate among graduates of the teaching program. As Director of the Master of Arts in Teaching program, I’m often told by principals that they know hiring a Clarkson graduate is like hiring a second-year teacher. Whereas New York State requires student teachers to have completed 40 days in a classroom, Clarkson requires well over twice that amount. Administrators know that Clarkson-trained teachers are experienced and ready for the classroom.
Clarkson alumni Ethan Brooks-McDonald is now a 10th grade English teacher and says his year-long residency helped him move beyond theory to be fully ready for the long-term realities of the classroom. “I was seen by my students as THE teacher from the very first day of school until the very last. It gave me the freedom to make it my own and get a sense of all the ups and downs of a school year, while also offering me the support and guidance of a mentor. This is a much more authentic experience than just visiting as a teacher for a few weeks.”
Feedback from the employers of our alumni also validates the value of the full-year residency requirement. In recent numbers, employers gave our grads an average score of 4.8 out of 5 in terms of classroom readiness. We believe that speaks to the value of the rigorous training we require of our graduates.
For the last 30 years, Clarkson has been working to fill those needs by producing graduates who are held to the highest standards and are ready to hit the ground running.
In addition to the full-year residency requirement, the Clarkson MAT program has distinguished itself with an intentional alignment with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Considered the gold standard in professional teaching, nearly all of Clarkson’s instructors have received NBPTS certification, and the program itself was built to match the Board’s standards in rigor. Every member of our faculty are either still classroom teachers themselves or have many years in the classroom.
Professional teaching is a demanding, rewarding career, and at Clarkson know that our teaching graduates are making a difference in their communities every day because of the practical, clinically-rich training they received.