March 25, 2020
Letter from NCTR CEO Anissa Listak

Friends and Colleagues,

I hope you all are well and navigating the daily challenges that Coronavirus has forced upon us.  I find myself tapping into my many communities to make sense of this new normal we are living in - my friends and families, our school community, and of course, the NCTR community.  We all find ourselves with overlapping personal and professional lives, pushing us to reprioritize how we spend our time and how we can continue to succeed despite this challenging environment.  Our mission to serve students by supporting excellent teacher residencies that prepare outstanding new teachers does not stop, so we must consider other paths to keep moving forward.  
The NCTR Network has taken many shapes throughout the years, but we have always been held together by the core values of quality and collaboration.  And every year we hear from you the importance you place on working together, sharing ideas, and learning from each other.  We continue to amplify these values and are making several changes to our work to maximize this formula.  
Please read below some of the short- and longer-term strategies NCTR is putting in place to support you.  We look forward to staying engaged and are taking steps to create multiple opportunities for you to interact with NCTR staff, residency partners, and other experts in the coming weeks.   
We appreciate your continued partnership, celebrate your commitment to students and your communities, and send our best wishes to you all!

Immediate Steps

  1. NCTR has cancelled all in-person events through April 30 for your health and safety and the health and safety of our staff.
  2. Symposium, NCTR’s annual event for learning and celebration of our teacher residency partners and the movement, is postponed indefinitely.  As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, we will reassess the appropriate time and place for this event in collaboration with our partner programs.    
  3. We maintain our commitment to provide the highest quality programming possible so our partners continue to progress toward achieving their goals, and we are identifying virtual and other innovative ways to accomplish this.
  4. NCTR consultants are reaching out to each of our clients to discuss how to continue to support your work virtually.  
  5. Resident of the Year and Mentor of the Year awards will be celebrated virtually.  Thank you to all of our partners who have submitted nominations of these outstanding educators.  Stay tuned for additional information on the celebration.  
  6. We are creating an online space for programs to connect on the Teacher Preparation Portal. 

Direct Support Next Steps

Building on NCTR’s roles as convener, collaborator, and expert, we are positioned to compile and disseminate the best thinking from our partners, to connect you all and share the ideas and strategies that you’re putting in place to address the changing landscape today.  The NCTR team is working to identify opportunities to connect, collaborate and share ideas virtually.  To this end, NCTR will be moving forward the following: 

  1. Gathering “Shifts and Strategies” to address the pressing short-term and long-term needs of residency programs, residents, mentors, and other key stakeholders.  NCTR clients will receive an invitation to complete a short form to share the moves programs are making to address pressing challenges. 
  2. Compile the “Shifts and Strategies” and share back with you all to identify top areas for support and learning opportunities and to make connections across the Network with other programs that are experiencing similar challenges or have identified interesting solutions.
  3. NCTR will convene partners in a series of roundtables and optional group learning experiences to tackle some of the new and emerging barriers to program implementation, and highlight resources and best practices from the Network.
  4. NCTR will populate the Teacher Preparation Portal with relevant resources to build a library of materials.
  5. Thinking ahead, NCTR will design programming and tools to identify and address the unique needs that 2020 residency graduates will face as they become teachers of record.  
Partner Update

New Residency in North Carolina
As Education NC reports, plans are underway for the recruitment of the first cohort of teacher residents preparing to teach in North Carolina’s Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools district, in partnership with Elizabeth City State University.  NCTR is providing design and  technical support to the new residency program, which will bolster the time ECSU education students spend in schools from one semester of observation then one semester teaching, to an entire year teaching with a mentor.

“We want to train teachers well enough that they can leave us, but to support them so they don’t,” says ECPPS superintendent Catherine Edmonds, who has experienced the problem of neighboring districts “poaching” Elizabeth City State graduates after they have student taught in Edmonds’ district.  This teacher residency program will also improve the region’s ability to ensure “an effective teacher in every classroom,” a state mandate appearing in the decades-long court case often referred to as Leandro v. State

Supporting Male Teachers of Color
The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education recently profiled NCTR Board Member and UC-Berkeley professor Travis Bristol and his efforts to support black male teachers.  This demographic is historically underrepresented in public schools and more likely to leave the profession due to “a lack of resources, typical feelings of isolation, and the physical and psychological effects” of being male professionals of color in school systems that often treat them as “behavior managers” for students of color, especially. 

COVID-19 News and Resources

What Happens to Student Teachers When Schools and Colleges Close Due To Coronavirus?

Decisions are varied at institutes of higher education across the country, and the path forward unclear for many pre-service teachers working in schools this semester.

Student Loan Borrower Guidance

The National Consumer Law Center’s Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project—a resource for borrowers, their families, and advocates representing student loan borrowers—has shared a blog post with recommendations to protect student borrowers, and includes steps that borrowers can take in the immediate short-term.  

COVID-19: Impact on Education Equity Resources & Responses

This page is being continually updated with articles and curricular tools for educators during the COVID-19 outbreak, curated to include resources on child hunger, on incarcerated students, and more especially vulnerable populations.

How to Home School During Coronavirus
The New York Times

A lifelong educator now responsible with homeschooling her own children, author Katherine Hill outlines tips for parents navigating the same sets of challenges, including “be flexible and keep your child’s experience and personality in mind.”

Other News
Teacher prep essential to San Diego charter network's success with deeper approach to student learning
Education Dive

High Tech High’s Graduate School of Education now offers a Teaching Apprenticeship Program to train aspiring teachers in the network’s project-based, “deeper learning” methods.  The apprenticeship includes a year-long study of equity and culturally-responsive teaching practices, core to the mission of High Tech High charter schools.

Student teachers fail test about how kids learn, nonprofit finds
Hechinger Report

Deans for Impact found in a study of more than 1,000 teacher trainees at six prominent institutes of higher education that pre-service teachers often disconnect education theory (proven methods for effective teaching, sourcing brain science) from practices employed in classrooms.  One common pitfall, the report reveals, is mistaking student engagement (through more fun or stimulating activities) for real learning.

Please note that the articles and events in the NCTR E-Blast do not reflect the opinions of our organization, but rather represent information that we believe will be relevant to you and your programs.

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