NCTR is excited to partner with the second cohort of aspiring residencies supported through our U.S. Department of Education Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) grant. Our New Site Development Program (NSDP) team is working with four residency programs in this cohort: Nashville Teacher Residency, McCormick Rural Teacher Residency (South Carolina), Metro Nashville Urban Teacher Residency, and the Norman C. Francis Teacher Residency (New Orleans). Cohort 2017 received funding to launch and grow their programs through NCTR’s two-year NSDP consulting curriculum, which will establish the core components of the residency model. Our goal is to share the drivers, influences and goals of a residency program early in its start-up phase.

This is the fourth and final installment of a profile series on each of our four new SEED partners. We interviewed Dr. Alan Coverstone, the Assistant Professor and Director of Innovative Projects in Education at Belmont University. Alan is also the Program Director of the Metro Nashville Urban Teacher Residency.

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How did you find out about NCTR’s SEED grant? 

We discovered NCTR when Belmont University was engaged in conversations with Metro Nashville Public Schools on how to increase the number of effective teachers entering the local workforce. During those initial conversations my team found NCTR’s website and reached out for guidance on initial research and logistics around launching a residency. We were introduced to (NCTR’s CEO) Anissa Listak, who helped us continue and accelerate the dialogue about bringing the model to our community.

What inspired you to apply to become a SEED grant partner?

We were inspired by the professionalism and experience of both the staff at NCTR and the strong residency programs that are part of your Network. What really drew us into the work were the detailed consulting services provided by the New Site Development Program team. It seemed like the exact sort of direction and support that we needed to build and launch our own residency program here at Belmont. We want to emulate and build on the kind of quality we see in so many of your Network Partners.

What are you excited about building upon in your district?

In Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) we have already built a couple programs that are helping build the pipeline of quality teachers in the city. MNPS’s Aspiring Teachers program was introduced as an all-day component of the yearlong clinical residency within some schools in the district. Additionally, our Masters of Arts in Teaching program also has a yearlong internship as one of its pathways. The two programs together form the foundation of our program at MNUTR. We are excited about building a pipeline that not only serves the district’s students but also serves local aspiring teachers well. Our goal for teacher preparation is to build on teachers’ clinical experiences, support the development of mentors, and enrich the talent development strategies that MNPS has underway.

What challenges do you face in your work and/or community, and how do you predict your partnership with NCTR through SEED will support your work?

We know that building a partnership across institutions is hard work, so we want to turn our attention to the work of sustaining these partnerships through strong communication and continuous follow-up.

We know the experience level of the average teacher is fairly limited, and we want to create opportunities for teachers to feel experienced and classroom ready on Day One. The idea of having a clinical experience gives aspiring teachers the opportunity to learn alongside veteran teachers. We also want to make sure our mentors feel they have some professional development opportunity to be teacher leaders.

What partners do you have in your community that will support you as you work toward accomplishing your residency goals? 

Belmont and MNPS are strong community partners that will need to support each other as we move into the next phase of this project together. We also have good thought partners in the team at Nashville Teacher Residency. We have spent a lot of time talking about what we’d like to see, asking ourselves, “What is our vision of the teacher preparation landscape in Nashville? Where do we want to go? What have we learned from TFA, TNTP and other teacher preparation programs? Asked what was effective and what was not effective?” Those conversations were the most important part of launching our work with the New Site Development Program and have naturally fed into our pilot year. We discovered that this conversation was being had across different departments in the district – the leadership and learning division, HR and the strategic resource office – and were quickly able to get on the same page.

What are the 2-3 things you hope to accomplish in Year One of our SEED grant partnership?

In Year One we hope to create a strong and lasting partnership between MNPS and Belmont University.

We want to create an effective recruiting and selection strategy to build our inaugural cohort, and build support for clinical mentors. We want to recruit more teachers who identify from underrepresented groups – composing at least 40% of first cohort.

Ideally, we want to recruit and prepare 40 effective teachers – 20 elementary and 20 middle and high school teachers, with an emphasis on math and science.