Part 1 – Teacher Preparation
LFDCS identified teacher preparation for urban schools as "best practices" to disseminate for each year of the 2010-2015 charter.
During 2010-2011, LFDCS piloted a teacher preparation readiness program by serving as a placement site for five graduate students from Merrimack College's School of Education. This effort helped us recognize strengths and limitations and greatly assisted in wriitng a plan to DESE to operate a program in 2012-2013. As a result of this program, mentor teachers grew professionally and increased both teaching and supervisory skills. During 2010-2011, initial conversations began with the Office for Educator Policy & Preparation to write an application.
The 2011-2012 school year was focused on research, planning and writing a "District-based, Post-Baccalaureate, Initial Licensure Teacher Preparation Program, Elementary 1-6, integrated with ESL, PreK-6." The Project Coordinator, LFDCS's founding superintendent, met throughout the year with a technical advisor from DESE and identified best practices from LFDCS's academic program which will be central to the program and will include:
1. RTI - a Response to Intervention model that trains teachers to effectively read and analyze test data and collectively identify strategies which improve student performance and outcomes.
2. Sheltered English Immersion - Teacher Candidates will complete a year-long practicum and complete portfolios documenting Professional Standards for Teachers in both Elementary and ESL. The program intent is to create a new skill set for urban teachers in Elementary and ESL by improving English Language proficiency and reducing learning gaps for immigrant students.
3. Parent Involvement - Teacher Candidates will participate in all school-sponsored parent involvement/education programs to acquire skills and knowledge of how to foster and incorporate effective parent inclusion once they are classrom teachers.
4. Recognizing the Impact of Poverty on Readiness to Learn - Overcoming the obstacles and challenges through high expectations and rigorous curriculum, LFDCS's teacher preparation program will intentionally prepare Teacher Candidates to be effective educators in urban schools.
As part of dissemination practices, LFDCS met with administrators and staff of three prestigious Schools of Education and visited their campuses, learned best practices in teacher preparation and invited college staff to visit LFDCS to see our best practices and operations and consider ways we can partner in the future. The Schools of Education included: Tufts University, UMass Lowell and Salem State University.
The Project Coordinator presented best practices in parent involvement at the Salem State University Teacher Conference and to the doctoral candidates at UMass Lowell, which has published two articles on LFDCS and sent students for observations. LFDCS also met with Northern Essex Community College's Early Childhood Program for collaboration and is now utuilizing LFDCS classrooms for observation.
Part II - Public Broadcasting
With heightened attention to parental involvement, LFDCS looks to non-traditional means to disseminate best practices. The Superintendent has had preliminary conversations with local radio hosts to initiate a series of programs on how to include parents for successful student achievement. In Latino communities, Spanish-speaking talk shows are the most effective ways to gather and promulgate information. The intent is to produce at least six Saturday programs focusing on effective practices and academic programs and outcomes of parental involvement during 2012-2013.