The Gates Foundation Discovers Student Teaching

The Gates Foundation has a new initiative. This time the massive foundation will fund a program for teachers to be part of “cooperative” designed to help aspiring teachers learn from experienced educators.

Is this new project likely to have much impact, however? Well, that’s hard to tell.

According to an article at Education Week:

Under a competitive application process, the cooperatives—deemed Teacher Prep Transformation Centers—will provide “direct, reciprocal support to member teacher preparation programs who are transforming practices,” the funding notice says. “It is a place where teacher preparation providers collectively problem solve, learn from one another, and develop evidence-based practices to share with the profession.”

Sounds good. There’s also this:

Applicants have to commit to Gates’ four principles for teacher preparation. To reiterate, the principles are: building teacher-candidate skill through hands-on practice, engaging in continuous improvement, ensuring their own teacher educators are effective, and collaborating with school systems serving high-need communities.

This program is perhaps unusual because applications can come from almost any group involved with teachers. They’re interested in hearing from “school districts, nonprofits, a state agency, or a college or university.”

This is also a change from the organization’s earlier policy of just doing one-off grants; these are meant to be more long-term, it appears.

Well, yes, but this also sounds an awful like just student teaching, the college-supervised instructional experience where those studying to be teachers are paired with an actual teacher and eventually teach full classes to children. That’s traditionally been the way American got “direct, reciprocal support to member teacher preparation programs” and how teacher-candidates learned “skills through hands-on practice.”

And that’s been around, in various guises, in traditional schools of education for a 100 years. What is there really new to learn here?

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer