Teacher Preparation

Kansas City Turns Classrooms Over to Interns

By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo — October 02, 2002 3 min read

Nine student-teachers have gotten a jump on their initial year in the classroom with full-time teaching positions in the Kansas City, Mo., public schools.

The 21,000-student district has signed the college seniors for a two-year commitment as one way of addressing a worsening teacher shortage. The interns are slated to graduate from state universities this December.

“It’s a pilot program, but it’s helped attract some students who were reluctant at first to work in the district,” said Cathy Dennis, the director of professional development for the district. “The good part is ... they get a lot of support.”

The arrangement, which has the backing of the Missouri education department, includes several levels of assistance in and out of the classroom, as well as monetary incentives. The interns will receive full-time pay for the two years and live rent-free this year in the same apartment building, some sharing apartments.

They are paired with veteran teachers who each serve as mentors to two interns and spend about half of each school day observing and helping the trainees. The accomplished teachers advise their inexperienced colleagues on lesson design and delivery, as well as discipline, classroom management, and communication with parents.

A teacher-educator observes the novice teachers at least once a week and provides regular group and individual feedback.

“Because they’re living together, it has turned out to be a very strong support group,” said Jean Bouas, an associate professor of education at Northwest Missouri State University, in Maryville. Ms. Bouas has an office in the students’ apartment building and holds office hours and seminars there throughout the week.

Praise and Caution

State officials gave their blessing to the experiment by waiving a requirement that teachers hold a bachelor’s degree. The state will be watching closely to see how the interns do before encouraging the district to expand the program, a spokesman for the education department said.

The Missouri National Education Association also supports the program. “This is a much better way to have teacher mentoring and induction,” said Chris Guinther, the vice president of the Missouri NEA. “This is truly job-embedded support for the new teachers, and also gives them the peer support they need.”

The district hopes to expand the program to 40 interns over the next few years. Such an expansion would require a significant commitment of financial and human resources. While housing and some other costs are paid for with grants from local foundations, the district pays the salaries of the intern and veteran teachers.

Kansas City’s arrangement might also run afoul of the federal “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001, which requires that all teachers have a bachelor’s degree, among other qualifications, by the end of the 2005-06 school year. But state officials hope that if the program proves successful, the state will get federal approval to continue it.

The interns receive significantly more support than other new teachers, district officials said. The Kansas City district hires between 200 and 250 new teachers each year, many of them entering the profession through alternative methods of licensure. While those new teachers also work with veterans, the mentors divide their time among many more recruits.

Despite the beefed-up support system, one expert questioned whether the interns might be better prepared by spending their first year working with a veteran teacher as the lead teacher in the classroom. That expert, Barnett Berry, the executive director of the Southeast Center for Teaching Quality, also said that the interns should be encouraged to commit to teaching in the schools for a longer period.

“These schools need more than anything else a well-prepared, stable faculty who can work with each other for at least four or five years to turn the school around in ways that produce meaningful learning gains for the kids,” Mr. Berry said by e-mail last week. The center he heads, located in Chapel Hill, N.C., is affiliated with the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future.

“Two-year teaching commitments,” Mr. Berry continued, “are insufficient for long-term school improvement and promote the devastating teacher ‘churn’ that works against what the students really need.”

District officials say that, so far, the program is a success.

Related Tags:

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Safe Return to Schools is Possible with Testing
We are edging closer to a nationwide return to in-person learning in the fall. However, vaccinations alone will not get us through this. Young children not being able to vaccinate, the spread of new and
Content provided by BD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
Meeting the Moment: Accelerating Equitable Recovery and Transformative Change
Educators are deciding how best to re-establish routines such as everyday attendance, rebuild the relationships for resilient school communities, and center teaching and learning to consciously prioritize protecting the health and overall well-being of students
Content provided by Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Addressing Learning Loss: What Schools Need to Accelerate Reading Instruction in K-3
When K-3 students return to classrooms this fall, there will be huge gaps in foundational reading skills. Does your school or district need a plan to address learning loss and accelerate student growth? In this
Content provided by PDX Reading

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teacher Preparation The Complicated, Divisive Work of Grading Teacher-Preparation Programs
As the two national accreditors for teacher-preparation programs evolve, the battle over market share heats up.
9 min read
Illustration of checkmark
Getty
Teacher Preparation Remote Learning Is Changing Schools. Teacher-Preparation Programs Have to Adjust
For schools to leverage lessons learned during the pandemic, new teachers need better training on how to work in online environments.
8 min read
A teacher tries to keep up with her technology training
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and iStock/Getty Images Plus
Teacher Preparation Opinion Far Too Many Educators Aren’t Prepared to Teach Black and Brown Students
Teacher-prep programs can help address that inadequacy, writes Sharif El-Mekki.
5 min read
A group of multicolored people stand together looking in both directions
Ada DaSilva/DigitalVision Vectors<br/>
Teacher Preparation Teachers Can Take on Anti-Racist Teaching. But Not Alone
Teachers want to do better by their students of color, but many don’t know how. Madeline Will examines the gap between intention and action.
3 min read
BRIC ARCHIVE
Illustration by Jamiel Law