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Portrait of Anna Liuzzo in her school classroom.

Published October 16, 2018

Residency model provides immersive teacher training experience

GSE will launch UB Teacher Residency Program

The Graduate School of Education, in collaboration with Buffalo Public Schools, will launch the UB Teacher Residency Program in summer 2019. The program has three goals for the initial urban teaching cohort: (1) increase the number of learner-ready teachers in the city of Buffalo; (2) diversify the pool of teachers in the city of Buffalo; and (3) increase the number of teachers who stay in the teaching profession in Western New York urban schools. The UB Teacher Residency Program was launched with the support of a Cullen Foundation grant and has since been awarded additional funding through a federal Teacher Quality Partnership grant.

Teacher residency programs are built on the medical residency model, providing a clinically-intensive pathway to certification. Resident teachers will serve alongside an expert, mentor teacher in a co-teaching capacity for a full school year while simultaneously engaging in university coursework to ensure that they have the required knowledge and skills to be effective teachers. Participating in a yearlong residency provides a deeper understanding of the community in which the residents will teach.

A key feature of this program is that each resident will receive a competitive stipend and, for residents in particular content certification areas, a tuition waiver during the yearlong residency. “Costs are a real issue for people to become teachers,” said Suzanne Rosenblith, GSE dean. “The thinking is, if we can reduce the financial burden, we can attend to diversity and attract more top-quality students who wouldn’t be saddled with debt.” A primary goal for the initial urban teaching cohort is to increase the number of historically underrepresented minorities with a desire to work in urban schools.

During the school year, the residents will be immersed in their classrooms co-teaching with their BPS mentors. The residents will engage in coursework delivered through innovative modules sequenced to align with the learning trajectory of the school year. “The residents will take the material they are learning and apply it in the classroom to see how it’s relevant; a practical merging of theory and practice,” said Julie Gorlewski, chair of the Department of Learning and Instruction.

Amanda Winkelsas, director of the UB Teacher Residency Program, envisions that “teacher residents will develop an understanding of the circumstances shaping their students’ lives during the year, helping the residents become more effective, culturally-responsive teachers.” Research suggests that teachers prepared through a residency pathway are more likely to remain in the profession, thereby contributing to stable and positive school climates, which ultimately benefit students’ learning.

Upon completion of the program, the teacher residents earn initial certification in early childhood, childhood, ESOL or adolescence education, and are better prepared to take on the challenges of an urban classroom from day one of their first teaching position. Participants in the residency program will receive ongoing professional development for the first three years of their careers through the UB Teacher Residency Consortium, which will be cultivated as the program develops.

A future goal of the UB Teacher Residency Program, depending on funding, will be to offer residency experiences in a variety of Western New York school districts. Suburban, rural or other context-specific cohorts could be formed to meet local needs. 

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