Revolutionizing teacher ed
by Andrew Shurtleff
in the BA/MT program enjoying a lecture.
By Anne Bromley
U.S. president wants results. Governors, their departments of
education, local communities and other groups want results. Federal
policies and state standards of learning set the stage for results.
such mandates to improve the academic performance of children
tend to overlook one element teachers.
exodus of new teachers has become a big problem, with newcomers
leaving the profession almost as fast as theyre joining
it. They cite inadequate preparation and mentoring among their
top reasons. According to the National Commission on Teaching
and Americas Future, 46 percent of teachers leave within
five years, 24 percent within the first two.
pressures on schools and teachers are immense, and theyre
determined by every segment of society, said Victor Luftig,
an associate professor of English
who is heading Teachers for a New Era, a U.Va. effort funded by
the Carnegie Corporation with the goal of revolutionizing teacher
Luftig (left) directs the Teachers for a New Era initiative.
Sandra Cohen (right) heads teacher education.
year Carnegie singled out U.Va. and three other schools around
the nation to launch Teachers for a New Era. Joined by the Annenberg
and Ford foundations, Carnegie is supporting the Universitys
project with a five-year, $5 million grant.
University aims to boost interest in teaching among U.Va. students
and to create a yearlong residency program for new teachers, including
those in local schools, that will provide teachers with more appropriate
support and increase retention. The Curry
School and the College
of Arts & Sciences will work together more closely than
ever to achieve these goals.
want to raise the profile of K through 12 teaching and send a
signal to undergraduates that this is something the University
values, said Luftig, who is on leave from directing the
Center for Liberal Arts, one of U.Va.s outreach programs
providing continuing education for K-12 teachers.
a series of common courses is one way the University
will emphasize the profession and potentially attract more students
interdisciplinary courses will be large lectures, team-taught
by professors from two or more departments, said Karen Ryan, associate
dean of Arts & Sciences. The courses will take a broad approach
and will show, for example, how a scientist or an artist thinks.
Of six discussion sections, a Curry instructor will lead one on
issues surrounding teaching.
grant benefits the whole University, but the reason we got it
is because of the Curry School, Luftig said. Curry is known
for its cutting-edge initiatives, including the five-year teacher
education program combining a bachelor of arts with a masters
the BA/MT degree is another goal of the Teachers for a New Era
initiative. Since the degree program began in 1986, students have
had two advisers, one from Arts & Sciences for their major
and one from the Curry School for teacher education. Under the
grant, advising will become a joint effort, with faculty from
both schools working in teams.
invited to seminars on teaching
Arts & Sciences faculty will be encouraged
to participate in the Teachers for a New Era initiative.
The first seminar on assessment methods, Evidence
and Education, will be offered this semester and will
be open to faculty of Arts & Sciences and the Curry
School. When Vice President and Provost Gene D. Block invited
faculty suggested by their deans, he said the goal is to
create a faculty group capable of advising the University
as it develops efficient ways to measure pupils achievement,
ways that might inform the improvement of our ongoing education
of prospective teachers.
interested in joining the seminar should contact
Victor Luftig at firstname.lastname@example.org
of the grant will reach beyond the Grounds. New teachers in Charlottesville
and Albemarle schools, regardless of where they got their training,
will participate in a revamped induction program,
with more intensive mentoring and support during their first two
induction will help facilitate their transition into taking on
the full responsibilities of the profession, said Sandra
Cohen, Curry director of teacher education. She likened the new
induction to a medical residency.
oversee the induction component, Luftig has assembled an Expert
Educators Group comprising Arts & Sciences associate
deans, Cohen and administrators and teachers from area schools.
Few precedents for partnerships between universities and nearby
schools exist, said Luftig. Rather than just telling the schools
how to do things better, we need to learn from the local
school divisions how the University can become the best possible
resource for them, he said.
grant also will offer special benefits to Curry graduates, 40
percent of whom leave the state for jobs. They will have the chance
to stay connected to U.Va. and continue professional development
through new activities on Grounds and telementoring with expert
teachers in their fields.
as assessment has become an emphasis in education, evaluation
will be a crucial component of the initiative. Curry professor
Robert McNergney, a pioneer in developing the case method for
teacher preparation on video, is temporarily heading this area
of the grant.
and other Curry researchers will look at who comes into teaching
and how the new efforts make them more effective teachers whose
pupils enjoy learning and achieve academic success.
with developing a new model of cooperation between professors
and their counterparts in K-12 schools, the Carnegie grant promises
an opportunity for U.Va. to usher in a new era in teaching
one where the community is dedicated to teacher education and
to helping teachers prepare for long, satisfying careers.