TeachOregon collaborative improves practice

TeachOregonIn the third year of a major grant from the Chalkboard Project, the TeachOregon initiative at PSU is making great strides. TeachOregon was initiated by Chalkboard, a nonprofit organization focused on improving education in Oregon’s K-12 schools.

PSU leads one of five collaboratives selected by Chalkboard, each receiving $230,000 per year for three years. PSU’s collaborative includes David Douglas, North Clackamas, and Portland Public School Districts.

The concept behind TeachOregon is to give the collaboratives opportunities to use research-based strategies and find what works best for them to develop and sustain innovative ways to grow the next generation of teachers.

The PSU project, called Portland Metro Teaching and Learning Coalition (TLC), is intended to produce better prepared and more diverse teachers to meet the growing complexity of Oregon’s classrooms. It was estimated that by 2015, 30% of students would come from multicultural families but the current number is now closer to 47%.* By the year 2020, Oregon will need to hire more than 16,000 new teachers to fully staff the workforce and districts hope to increase the numbers of teachers of color to better match those demographics.

Four target areas were identified:

  • Recruitment and selection of a diverse teacher workforce
  • Excellence in the clinical preparation of all teachers
  • Equitable hiring practices in our schools
  • Quality mentoring and induction for all new teachers

In the last three years, much has been accomplished.

TLC hired a grant manager, Jennifer Roberts, to oversee the project. Her work has provided a solid foundation for the future growth and direction of TLC, which will soon be led by a new team of coordinators from each TLC partner. Here is Roberts’s most recent report:

The Portland Metro Teaching and Learning Coalition (TLC) is entering into our third year of work together as a part of the TeachOregon project. We are excited about our accomplishments and ready for all the work we still want to accomplish together. In the past two years, we have created systems and processes to support:

  • Dedicated site coordinators in each of our TeachOregon school sites. We had 17 schools working in our partnership last year, and we anticipate over 20 for 2015–16.
  • Quality professional development for cooperating teachers to help them hone their skills as coaches and mentors. Thirty-five teachers have participated thus far, and we will offer two more opportunities this year for teachers to attend the Coaching for Best Practices Institute. This 2-credit course provides practical, hands-on learning opportunities to interested cooperating teachers (CT).
  • Enhanced placement processes for our partner schools, including hosting site visits for newly admitted candidates each spring. These visits allow candidates to meet prospective CTs and allow schools to request placements after meeting candidates.
  • Integrated and systemic support for potential GSE students. Our Teacher Pathways Program (TPP) has grown into a stellar support network for culturally and linguistically diverse future teachers, guiding them through the various pathways to becoming an educator and offering them assistance in academics, financial aid, admission, and personal growth.
  • Meaningful partnerships between PSU and our neighboring districts. David Douglas, North Clackamas, and Portland Public are dedicated to the support and nurturing of PSU teacher candidates, and our work together over these past few years has created lasting pathways for future work and forged interdependence and collaboration between and across all partners. Our districts are now collaborating with one another in new and exciting ways, and collectively, we are working hard toward a common vision for teacher education.

TPP coordinator, Tara Cooper, was hired in April 2014 to lead the efforts to recruit diverse future educators. This program will bring more culturally and linguistically diverse students to the profession. She identifies prospective students and helps them locate resources and support to successfully navigate the teacher licensure pipeline. Cooper currently works with existing successful programs, such as the Portland Teachers Program (PTP) and the Bilingual Teacher Pathways program (BTP). In only one year, she has recruited 50 new students, ranging from high school to university, and six are now ready and enrolled in teacher licensure programs.

The future for TLC looks bright. “During the 2015–16 school year, we hope to enhance those programs that we have already initiated, as well as create sustainability plans for much of our work, so that it may continue long after our Chalkboard grant funds have ended,” said Roberts.

Sue Hildick, Chalkboard president, wanted a program that was replicable and that could be expanded to additional Oregon partnerships. TeachOregon fulfills that promise. Other collaboratives funded by Chalkboard and the state legislature are: Salem Keizer Teacher Preparation Collaborative, TeachSpringfield, Teach Oregon PAC, and TeachCentral Oregon. Each collaborative designs its own innovative strategies and models, working with all stakeholders, including districts, unions, and governing bodies in its geographic area.

To learn more about this partnership, talk with a PSU TLC Leadership team member: Leslee Peterson, Micki Caskey, Randall DePry, Tara Cooper, Nicole Rigelman, or Randy Hitz. They will be happy to tell you more about TeachOregon and how you can get involved.

*Oregon Department of Education