Dec 06, 2018

Eight Pilot Programs Have New Teachers Co-Teach Rather than Start Cold

BATON ROUGE, La. - New teachers completing alternate certification programs often receive almost no classroom-based training prior to entering the profession. A report released today by the Louisiana Department of Education highlights pilot programs in eight rural school systems that allow these new teachers to "co-teach" with a veteran teacher for at least one class period per day. The pilots increase the amount of mentoring these teachers typically receive by 350 percent. 

"These pilot programs end the practice of placing new teachers with minimum classroom-based preparation into full-time teaching jobs," said State Superintendent John White. "They also lay the groundwork for ongoing discussion about how similar programming could be implemented statewide."

Alternate Certification

In Louisiana, new teachers either are trained in undergraduate colleges of education or in an alternate certification programs for college graduates.

Teaching candidates prepared through undergraduate programs participate in yearlong, classroom-based teaching residencies alongside an expert mentor teacher.

Alternate certification candidates complete their teacher preparation programs while working full-time as a teacher. They may have no experience before starting as full-time teachers, and while current policy requires them to have a school-based mentor, mentoring practices for alternate certification teachers vary statewide. In most cases, candidates do not have dedicated time to practice--or even to meet--with their mentors.

As a result, 20 percent of teachers prepared through alternate certification routes leave the profession after only two years, compared to 12 percent of teachers prepared through undergraduate routes.

Innovative Solutions

Eight rural school systems are piloting innovative solutions to offer new teachers more preparation. They include the City of Bogalusa, Cameron Parish, Grant Parish, J.S. Clark Leadership Academy, Morehouse Parish, Pointe Coupee Parish, Richland Parish, and West Carroll Parish.

While each pilot program is unique, on average, these pilots include structured practice and mentoring for one period per day, every day, during the entire school year. This means that candidates have multiple opportunities to meet and work with their mentor each week. These structured opportunities make the preparation experience substantially more supportive than current policy requires.

The report details three of these pilot programs:

  • Richland Parish: The school system created seven "Lead Coach" positions and arranged for these expert teachers to spend two to three hours per day with their alternate certification mentees. During this time, they co-teach, observe, provide feedback, and collaboratively plan.
  • Pointe Coupee Parish: Instead of lead teaching for eight periods each day, mentor teachers lead teach for four periods, co-teach with each new mentee for one period, and collaboratively plan with all three new mentees for one period.
  • City of Bogalusa: A mentor teacher spends the morning as a lead teacher at their home school and spends the afternoon at the alternate certification candidates' school co-teaching and debriefing with teacher candidates. Each day, the mentor co-teaches an hour block with each candidate, followed by a joint half-hour debrief. Candidates and their mentor have 45 minutes weekly after school to collaboratively plan lessons.

Learn more about these pilot programs.

Moving forward, the Department will continue to examine the impact of each pilot, including the impact of increased mentoring.

"The pilot mentoring and co-teaching models in rural Louisiana are promising models of how to increase mentoring and improve preparation for aspiring teachers in alternate certification pathways," said Holly Boffy, vice president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. "By continuing to track their progress, Louisiana will identify practices that could be scaled statewide through policy and tools."

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