Doing Teacher Residencies Right: Yearlong, Well-Paid, and Led by Excellent Teachers

by | May 3, 2019

By Sharon Kebschull Barret, May 2, 2019

We know that in traditional student teaching today, incoming teachers are eager to learn and help students, and some “cooperating teachers” help their student teachers tremendously.

But we also know that most student teachers are in the classroom for a short while, unpaid, and not necessarily learning under the school’s strongest teachers.

Alternative residency programs, while a great idea, reach only a very few student teachers, at high cost—often funded through temporary grants.

We suggest something new: Well-paid, yearlong residencies embedded in
a teaching team led by an excellent teacher—the multi-classroom leader.

Using Public Impact®’s Opportunity Culture® model, which schools began implementing in 2013, we see five paths for teacher residents that can dramatically improve teacher preparation and open teaching to candidates who may not otherwise be able to afford it.

Building on our vision released in 2016 for teacher and principal residencies, we’ve just published more detailed materials: a summary of the teacher residency paths, an introductory slide deck, and job descriptions. And don’t miss 3 short videos from educators on the early-career benefits of multi-classroom leader teams and residencies.

What Makes Opportunity Culture® Residencies Different

Opportunity Culture® teaching residencies are full-time, full-year, well-paid positions offered in collaboration with participating educator preparation providers (colleges, universities, and other accredited programs). Residents pay the usual provider tuition and fees, offset by their district-paid salary and benefits, or the district pays providers directly.

The cornerstone of these residencies is leadership by multi-classroom leaders (MCLs)—accountable teacher-leaders who have a track record of high-growth student learning. Residents join a small teaching team and get strong guidance and coaching from the MCL who leads the team.

In 2018, researchers from the Brookings Institution and American Institutes for Research found that teachers who joined the team of an MCL with prior high growth as a teacher then produced learning gains equivalent to those of teachers in the top quartile in math and nearly that in reading. The team teachers were, on average, at the 50th percentile in the student learning gains they produced before joining an MCL’s team.

Benefits of Opportunity Culture® Teaching Residencies

  • Residents learn, on the job, the elements of instructional excellence
  • Districts and providers attract an outstanding, diverse pipeline of teacher candidates
  • Students get strong learning experiences, including with new teachers
  • See the slide deck and summary for more benefits!

Residents who already have a bachelor’s degree are typically Teacher Residents, in a role like novice teachers. Residents working toward a bachelor’s degree are typically Reach Associate Residents, in a role as instructional assistants. Both gain more experience than typical student teachers.

Along with the on-the-job experience, residents get coursework through the participating provider that is aligned with residency experiences—focused on academic knowledge of key topics, such as student development, pedagogy, and subject content.

See the summary and slide deck for more details of the five residency paths, which open up possibilities for students at various stages of their education:

  • a bachelor’s degree in four years;
  • an extended program for students who must work full time throughout college;
  • a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree;
  • a master’s degree in about 14 months; or
  • a certification residency for students who hold a bachelor’s degree.​

Keep Reading

Free Webinar: Three Keys to Getting Every Educator a Coach

In schools using Opportunity Culture® staffing models, small teaching teams aim to provide every educator with a great coach—the team leader. What can administrators do to support these teacher-leaders in their new coaching roles? Join us June 27 for a free webinar to...