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Seattle Teacher Residency Program

The Alliance for Education, Seattle Public Schools, University of Washington College of Education and the Seattle Education Association recently launched the Seattle Teacher Residency Program.

seattle teacher residency programJose Banda, Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools, said, “This partnership speaks to the power of collaboration in public education.  A thoughtful, rigorous teacher pipeline initiative, informed by multiple stakeholders, will bring meaningful benefit to students across the district.”

The Seattle Teacher Residency is uniquely positioned as a partnership of four local Seattle institutions: Seattle Public Schools (SPS), the University of Washington, the Seattle Education Association (SEA), and the Alliance for Education.  Committing their unique strengths, these partners have come together to launch and sustain the Seattle Teacher Residency (STR is the 1st residency program to identify labor as a formal partner).

Urban teacher residency programs, pioneered over the last decade in Boston, Chicago, Denver and elsewhere, apply the medical residency model to teacher preparation.  By blending classroom apprenticeship with aligned, graduate-level course work and an intensive resident/mentor partnership, residencies aim to accelerate student achievement through the training, support and retention of excellent teachers.  The four anchor partners are engaged in planning and design work during the 2012-2013 academic year.  The first cohort of 25 residents, matched with 25 mentors, will begin graduate coursework over the summer of 2013 and will start in SPS classrooms in September 2013.

A significant aspect of the residency model is that it is largely school-based, with the coursework integrated into substantial clinical mentorship.  That is, the program reflects district initiatives, standards, and curriculum.  Residents spend a full school year apprenticing with a mentor teacher while taking master’s level coursework, focusing on best practices for serving students in hard-to-hire or high-needs areas.  As a condition of acceptance into the program, Residents commit to teaching in the district for a substantial period, typically 3 to 5 years.  They also earn a modest stipend during the resident year.

Because the residency model is known for being “district-responsive”, this customized approach to teacher preparation will meet Seattle-specific needs.  In addition, the residency model aligns with the College of Education’s innovative approach to teacher preparation and its mission to make “an excellent education a daily reality for every student”.

Under the leadership of Dr. Marisa Bier, Program Director, a three-tiered planning structure has been established to guide the year-long planning and design process.  The Steering Committee, Design Team & Advisory Council are comprised of a broad cross-section of stakeholders including representatives of the district, Seattle Education Association, the Principals Association of Seattle Schools (PASS), university and diverse parent and community based organizations.

“The mission of this project is to accelerate student achievement,” Bier said.  “It’s tremendously exciting for Seattle to join the residency movement, and to do so in leading fashion with a uniquely strong, 4-partner anchor team provides a supportive foundation for achieving our collective goals of preparing and supporting high quality teachers in and for Seattle.”

Since August, this launch team has been working to identify the areas of need, establish the mission and goals of the program, and develop the resident and mentor selection process and learning experiences.  Urban Teacher Residencies United, the national network of the country’s highest-performing residency programs, provides technical assistance to the design of the project.

Urban Teacher Residency United, based in Chicago, is the national network of the highest-performing residency programs.  UTRU Executive Director Anissa Listak said, “This is the first time we’ve seen a residency launch with this set of players at the table.  It bodes very well for the success and efficacy of the initiative.”

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About the Seattle Teacher Residency
The mission of the Seattle Teacher Residency is to accelerate student achievement through the preparation, support and retention of a diverse group of exceptional teachers in Seattle Public Schools.  The initiative is a joint partnership between the Alliance for Education, the Seattle Education Association, Seattle Public Schools and the University of Washington’s College of Education.  The first cohort will begin in September 2013.  The STR website will be launched in the near future.

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