PESB has developed an RWT District Informational Packet (PDF) in order to help districts and teachers interested in starting their own program think through some of the program needs. This packet provides some foundational information, a curriculum overview, and suggestions for thinking about partnerships and putting together an implementation team.
Program design flexibility
While there are many ways to design and deliver an exploration of teaching course, the following are common elements of how most programs are designed:
- Most students are juniors or seniors.
- There is a connection to other courses that may support future teachers, such as human development, child development, or health and human services courses.
- Academic support and advising are embedded in the program, as they are critical to high school graduation and college acceptance.
- There are criteria for program admission and some kind of selection process that aid in program retention and ensuring students, teachers, and administrators view the course as requiring rigor and dedication on the part of all involved.
- Scheduling the course should include considerations of time for travel to school sites and the elementary or other site’s schedule.
Example program design models
The course is typically taught as a two-semester model of 180 hours (90 hours for each of 2 semesters) for juniors and seniors. Two potential designs are presented below, however, districts should craft a model that works best for them.
|Design one||Design two|
Semester one (90 hrs.) – Seminar
Semester two (90 hrs.) – Internship
Semester one (90 hrs.) – Semester & internship
Semester two (90 hrs.) – Seminar & internship
Semester one seminar is M/W/F for 90 minutes each class.
Semester two internship is T/W/TH/F; Monday is Seminar
One month of training before internship begins.
Then intern days are M/W/F; Seminar days are T/TH.
In design one, students engage primarily in a first seminar experience with limited service learning and field observations and in the second semester, students intern at a school on a routine basis with weekly scheduled seminars to debrief and make meaning of the field experiences.
In design two, students combine seminars and internships equally over each semester. In both designs, the powerful combination of experiencing and dialoguing about educational theory to real-world practices, and the facilitation of critical reflection on first-hand experiences allow students to imagine themselves making a difference for all children in the role of teacher. Planning for your course should include travel time to internship sites.
Program elements to consider
A formal written and/or oral interview process requiring potential students to, for example, share their academic standing, obtain recommendations from other teachers, provide attendance data and write or orally share why they are interested in exploring a career in teaching is suggested. Special attention to attendance is encouraged as students will be expected to reliably go to their internship sites as scheduled. This aspect of emerging professionalism is a central learning experience in teacher academy programs.
Questions such as “Describe a moment when you changed your mind about something,” or “Share why you want to make a difference in the life of children or youth in our community,” are reported to encourage thoughtful consideration of enrolling in the program, after being recruited by teacher, peer, family or community member who encourages the student to apply. Other application questions might include: “Give specific reasons why you are interested in pursuing a career in teaching.” In addition, letting students know the time and commitment required is essential in the initial application.
For example, Ms. Smith of Renton Teacher Academy writes:
Renton Teacher Academy is a rigorous program, requiring a large time commitment. You will be required to take time during the summer, attend weekly internships, and visit numerous after-school activities. You will not be provided with district transportation when you attend weekly internships, beginning in Term 2. Describe how you will be successful in this program.
Additional questions inform the student that this is a course that will require more professionalism than they may have been required to develop in the past. For example:
- How many days have you been absent this school year? _____days
- What message would you like to send to the selection committee about your candidacy?
- Please include one letter of recommendation that speaks to your interest in teaching, your skills, and abilities.
Family and guardian communication process
After students enroll in the course and before they visit any school observation or internship sites, a letter of permission is sent home with expectations of the student during their internship. Parents or guardians need to be informed of the time the student will be at the internship site, the contact information and contact name in case of emergency.
Orientation before going to observation or internship sites
Over time you should consider creating a Student Teacher Guidelines Handbook with all of the expectations and forms needed to get the course started.
Required forms completion
Once students are selected, school district work-based learning requirements must be met. These include:
- District Adopted Washington State Patrol Background Checks and School Volunteer Applications
- Work-based learning informed consent
- Approval of use of private vehicle, if applicable
- Consent form for off-site activities
- Photo release form
- School volunteer form
Syllabus and course information
Ms. Smith of Renton Teacher Academy begins with enthusiasm and writes a welcome note on her syllabus:
Dear Future Teachers,
Welcome back to the Renton Teacher Academy at Renton High School! Although many of us have already spent some quality time together at the Summer Academy, it always feels like a fresh start when I prepare for my official first day of school each Fall. I love this time of year. I love the Renton Teacher Academy and the way this program transform lives. And I love being a teacher. As far as I am concerned–and I will admit my bias–there is no higher calling, and I take my calling seriously. I am honored to be a part of your challenging and rewarding journey as you discover your “calling.”
High expectations and immediate building of supportive relationships are fostered in the RWT course. A course syllabus will need to be completed, with a student form indicating the student has read and understood the most important sections. For example:
Grading and credits
✓ Grading will be a combination of daily assignments, individual and group projects, test grades, and field experience.
✓ Successful field experience will weigh heavily on proper in-class preparation—excellent attendance is mandatory.
✓ Professionalism in attitude, work ethic, and attendance is a top priority—KNOW YOUR RHS HANDBOOK! Walk in the door without a hat, headphones, food, cell phone.
✓ College credit through CWU Cornerstone is available for a course grade of “B” or higher—partial tuition is required.
Common expectation on syllabi include
✓ Course competencies, content and timeline
✓ Attendance and participation policy
✓ Transportation to internship site expectations
✓ Professional conduct expectations
✓ Assignment expectations
✓ Leadership events and expectations
✓ Student rights and responsibilities
✓ College course articulation arrangement
✓ College course articulation requirements (for example, the need to earn a B- or higher is common)
*Your district requirements should be followed
Professionalism is important to discuss early in the course as students will be representing the program in class, at their placement sites, and after school at various community events.
Course description for RTA Careers in Education 1-2, 3-4
Renton Teacher Academy (RTA) students learn the fundamentals of the educational system and practice lesson-planning, instructional best-practices, and classroom management. Working with children in educational and/or care settings is one of the most rewarding experiences a student can have, therefore, RTA students have a weekly 1-2 hour practicum experience (internship) starting in Term 2.
The Renton Teacher Academy has three main goals:
- Support and train the students for a teaching career.
- Design and deliver programs aimed at encouraging high school students to consider and explore teaching careers in state-identified shortage areas – particularly mathematics, science, bilingual education, English as a second language and special education.
- Coordinate and integrate services designed to overcome barriers to complete higher education teacher preparation programs and enter the teaching profession.
RTA is part of CWU’s Cornerstone Program, allowing students to earn 5 college credits by taking an equivalent college course – EDEC 292: Assisting in the Child-Centered Classroom. Renton Teacher Academy is a collaborative project between Renton School District and Central Washington University (CWU), and funded by Recruiting Washington Teachers Grant. The aim of the project is to recruit high school students to become teachers.
- Create more experiences and opportunities in the classroom that allow students to be genuine inquirers.
- Pay attention to how students interact with other students and Mentors in group-work activities.
- Help students work effectively as part of a team, both horizontal and vertical.
- Create more opportunities to discuss the ethical issues that arise in the teaching profession.
- Model empathy, compassion, and respect for others in our classrooms and around the school.
Renton High School Teacher Academy, Student Portfolio—2013-2014
- Journaling/Reflection (10%) and Class Assignments/Tests (30%)
Central Washington University at Highline Community College Field Trips (5%)
Written reflection pieces of these field trips are filed in your portfolio.
- Quarterly evening field trips
- Graduate course participation
Leadership activities (5%)
Documentation of hours, for example:
- Future Educators Association (FEA) Activities,
- Read Around the World at Bryn Mawr Elementary,
- Teaching Equity Conference, Highline CC
- Dinner, presentations w/State Representatives and Senators, etc.
Field Experience/Observations and Internships (30%)
High School Planning (5%)
- Includes a print out of your grade and attendance report several times per semester
College Planning (10%)
- Show documentation you are registered for the SAT, filled out the Common App, filled out scholarship apps, and spent time on a college website in your intended major.
Extra-curricular Activities (5%)
- Teacher Leadership activities that you find on your own.