University of Wyoming is planning a program to improve teacher education & professional development

The University of Wyoming (UW) College of Education is planning a new Master Educator Competency Program (MECP) for state teachers. The idea is to create a process that will revolutionize teacher preparation and allow teachers professional development that respects their time and needs. It is tailored for educators teaching in a rural setting and is designed to build skills in the classroom throughout a teacher’s career.

The teacher training college cooperates 2 turns, a national educational design lab to launch the program. Part of the process is getting teachers to provide input on what topics and areas they think should be covered. It would also reach that of Governor Mark Gordon Redesigning and innovating the delivery of education (JOURNEY) initiative, announced December.

“There are a lot of experts on this kind of thing all over the country, [and] We wanted to hear from educators what they need and what they see as a need,” said Scott Thomas, John P. “Jack” Ellbogen, dean of the College of Education at UW. “The State Board of Education toured the state and they did it develop something called Graduate profile, and this is about what we want from our graduates in the future. We visited educators and districts across the state and asked the question, “What do you want your students to know by 2030?” They were able to describe that pretty quickly because they recently described it to the state school board as part of a graduate profile.”

The teachers answered another question: “What do they need to know to prepare their students for life in 2030?”

“Many said that change is scary for many people [and] It takes a lot of time to get to the point where schools really work in a way that’s best for the students,” he said. “’Sometimes schools are run by what best fits the curriculum, not what best suits the students. How can you help us?’ So these weren’t things like, “Oh, I need to know about new techniques to teach algebra in third grade or to balance the demands that literacy puts on me.” Those were more about the experience to center around their students.”

There are currently several professional development initiatives that teachers can participate in throughout their careers. The Wyoming Department of Education offers a few opportunities for educators, as do school districts in addition to third-party providers that are part of the multi-billion dollar education market.

The teachers who would attend MECP would be primarily mid-career and have significant teaching experience. The competency aspect differs from many existing professional development initiatives as it focuses on mastering competencies and not on sedentary times such as those offered in workshops for educators.

The partnership with 2Revolutions is also unique and caught Thomas’ attention when it became clear that the company wanted to be a partner and not a traditional customer-customer relationship.

“They have connections on the teaching and learning front worldwide that provide the opportunity to collaborate with some of the very latest research, teaching and learning and cognitive behaviors, and so we felt that as a research-based college it was an education , we felt that this was something special, something that was missing in the market and something that we can proudly join,” said Thomas.

The College of Education has been working with seven districts across the state over the past eight months and will develop eight competencies before expanding them to 48. The ideal situation would allow school districts to personalize professional development for their particular situation. Once a teacher has demonstrated mastery of a competency (a subject important to a teacher, school, or district), this could potentially be used as credit toward a master’s degree or certificate at a university.

“We’re not struggling to figure out how to deal with an expanding education market in Wyoming, it’s a crisis of attrition,” he said. “I’ve argued that we could actually have a surplus of teachers if we could cut the turnover rate in half by treating our teachers as the professionals they are and by supporting and working with those teachers accordingly, whatever the condition and we could.” start to think more consciously about how we can then increase the quality of our overqualified workforce.”

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