The impact of a middle grade professional development school on teacher training and retention
Stierman, Catherine Rowan
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Teacher preparation and retention are in a state of crisis. Just under 20% of all pre-service teachers will still be in the classroom four years after graduation (AACTE, 2018; Cowen, Goldhaber, Hayes & Theobald, 2016; Darling-Hammond, 2003; Ingersoll, Merrill & Stuckey, 2018; Latham & Vogt, 2007; NCES, 2016; NCTAF, 2003). The quality of training and the sense of self have been identified as the determining factors for persistence in the education profession. The research is very clear that professional development school (PDS) prepared teachers are significantly more likely to enter and to persist in the field. This case study focused on ten undergraduate education majors in a middle grade professional development school with a significantly higher than average retention in the field. Both qualitative and quantitative data were collected simultaneously. Sources included five inventories, twelve sets of interviews, and eleven reflections. It was determined that governance at both the university and middle school sites allowed the classroom teachers and professors to provide a curriculum that centered on the identification, practice, and internalization of effective educators through active learning and student-centered pedagogy. Three curricular practices were identified by the participants as being significant influences on their development and success as teachers: opportunities to see classroom teachers and professors model best practice, substantial time to practice their own skills, and a structure for reflection and processing of learning events.