Occasional Papers Series: 25

High-Needs Schools: Preparing Teachers for Today's World

OP25In the second decade of the 21st century, some schools are in trouble and some schools are not. The subject of this Occasional Paper is the preparation of teachers for schools that—lacking sufficient resources, effective leadership, or vocal advocates—are failing to educate their students by any reasonable measures. The teachers and teacher educator contributors to this volume offer a more variegated set of responses grounded in a diversity of local experiences. Their approaches to researching and understanding the immediacy of becoming a teacher are based on decades of working in hard-pressed urban schools and the institutions that supply them with new educators. The multiple authorship of all but one of the essays published here attests the complexity of the task at hand and the need for collaboration at every level ofthe educational endeavor.

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This volume contains the following papers: 

1. The Right to Learn: Preparing Early Childhood Teachers to Work in High-Need Schools

Julie Diamond, Fretta Reitzes, Betsy Grob

Three teacher educator trained in the 1960's reflect on how to ensure educational equity in high-needs schools of today. The article starts with a description of the education the writers want for all children, and outline the processes and practices needed to sustain it. This is followed by a discussion on how schools of education can equip teachers with the values, understandings, and strategies they will need to achieve these goals.

2. No Teaching More Fulfilling: An Interview with Pam Jones

Linda Levine

Teacher educator Linda Levine interviews colleague Pamela Jones on her enduring commitment to quality education for all. Pam shares her thoughts and insight into what it takes to be a successful teacher in high-needs urban schools. Two guiding principles emerge as prerequisites for success: teachers need to be true to themselves and to find teaching assignments in places that resonate with them.

3. Preparing Teachers for High-Need Schools: A Focus on Thoughtfully Adaptive Teaching

Arlene Mascarenhas, Seth A. Parsons, Sarah Cohen Burrowbridge

According to the authors of this article differentiated instruction, or thoughtfully adaptive teaching, helps teachers successfully meet the needs of students in under-served schools. Teacher education institutions can do their part by forming partnerships with high-needs schools so teacher candidates can gain experience in a supportive environment. Along with providing a solid grounding in pedagogy, teacher education programs need to help candidates develop their own vision of teaching. Vision is seen as a way for teachers to remain true to their core values, and as a way to stay focused on how to do the best for all of their students.

4. Facilitating Student Documentary Projects Toward 21-Century Literacy and Civic Engagement

Steven Goodman

Executive Director of the Educational Video Center Steve Goodman describes how he uses video making as a way to engage students in high-needs schools. Goodman believes video making projects can help counter the ways minority students are made invisible by school curriculum and the culture of testing. More importantly, creating video documentaries allows students to use multiple literacies and does not exclude those who struggle with the written word.

5. No Shortcuts on the Journey to Learning for Students or Teachers

Alison Coviello, Susan Stires

Despite the generally held view that children in low-performing, under-served schools have "deficits" teachers in such schools often have very different experiences. Students can succeed in all areas of schooling and beyond. But for this to happen, teacher education institutions need to provide teacher candidates with background information and knowledge about instruction, so they can see and support the strengths of students in high-needs schools.

6. Beyond the Lone Hero: Providing Supports for New Teachers in High-Needs Schools

Sarah Elizabeth Barrett, Donna Ford, Carl James

This essay examines the activities and challenges encountered in a partnership between a faculty of education and a local school board in Toronto, Canada. The goal was to address concerns over a 40% drop-out rate amongst Black students in the Toronto District School Board.

Teachers were to identify areas of concern, and to use university resources to investigate and improve work with students. Initially, findings were disappointing, teachers often felt isolated working on their own, and some administrators perceived the project as disruptive to the overall running of the school.

Faculty came to the realization that to help support their own graduates they needed to shift priorities from research to providing opportunities for dialogue, and to acknowledge the positions and perspectives of a variety of participants in the system.