Laramie, Wyoming — Future teachers will be able to learn more about the University of Wyoming College of Education in a new book published by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ).
“Start Here to Become a Teacher” includes a listing of the nation’s top undergraduate teacher preparation programs, and UW is included on the list. The publication allows aspiring educators to “comparison shop” undergraduate teacher prep programs based on a number of variables.
The success of teachers, and their students, relies on quality training and preparation in college, and it is important that future teachers choose the best program for their needs, according to NCTQ. The national organization reviewed 872 programs, describing the top 120 programs in the book.
Additionally, the publication includes advice from senior educators to help future teachers get the most out of their college experience.
“NCTQ has tremendous influence with major policymaking bodies and individuals nationally,” said UW College of Education Dean D. Ray Reutzel. “NCTQ has never been a strong friend or advocate of or for traditional teacher education programs nationally so, in a way, this is especially flattering that our programs are ranked so highly by NCTQ.”
The programs included in the volume show a dedication to the most important aspects of a teacher preparation program: a highly-selective admissions process; emphasis on research-based approaches to teaching reading; effective preparation in teaching elementary math, science and social studies; training in classroom management; and providing a quality student teaching experience.
“We have for several years now been very careful to be sure that the syllabi and course content in literacy and math education have been aligned with the findings of major meta-analyses, federal reports and research syntheses,” Reutzel said. “We also have, based on program completer feedback, redoubled efforts to provide students with more information about effective classroom management.”
Over the past several months, the UW College of Education has worked to improve and expand upon practicum and student teaching experiences.
“In order for our teacher candidates to fully integrate the knowledge, skills and dispositions needed to become teachers, they need regular and embedded opportunities to apply what they are learning through courses to work with children,” said Leslie Rush, associate dean and director of the UW School of Teacher Education. “We are working to meaningfully embed opportunities for practice with plenty of feedback, so that our teacher candidates can consistently refine their practice and become better educators.”
Semester-long student teaching opportunities have been expanded, allowing students to complete this experience in the spring or fall semester. A pilot project, initiated by the Trustees Education Initiative (TEI), also is slated to begin in local school districts this fall. The pilot program will see pre-service teachers participating in a yearlong, partially-paid teaching internship.
The UW College of Education also has taken student teaching options globally. Last year, the college joined the Consortium of Overseas Student Teaching that allows UW pre-service teachers to gain experience leading a classroom in one of 15 countries abroad. The first cohort of students to participate in the program completed their experiences in spring 2019.
Another initiative developed by TEI provides additional opportunities for preservice educators to practice the skills and knowledge needed for teaching through Mursion, a virtual reality system.
“The Mursion system allows our students to practice teaching with digital avatars in a low-risk setting,” Rush says. “Feedback can be provided immediately, allowing students to improve their skills during every session.”
“We also are working to provide student teaching placements statewide; better student teaching mentor preparation; supervision via distance technologies; and consistent observation of student teaching performance using the CLASS instrument as part of the Deans for Impact Common Indicators System,” Reutzel says.
Dan Brown, Rob Rickenbrode and Kate Walsh wrote “Start Here to Become a Teacher.” The book is available on Amazon.