Why Teacher Residency Programs Matter?
A dear colleague of mine shared the following words with me, the day after I found out that no one would be held accountable in the senseless murder of Breonna Taylor, in her nightgown, in her own home, by those who’ve sworn an oath to protect us-civilians.
She said, Jacquelyn, “You Can’t Save the Rainforest if You’re Depressed.”
At the time, it was exactly what I needed to hear. I was not able to pretend that I was okay. The truth is I was feeling unmotivated, uninspired, and downright hopeless.
And beyond all that, I felt guilty for feeling that way because I am blessed. I am fortunate to work in the education field with talented trailblazers who believe that children are our future. They believe that for better or worse, a school is a place where we can shape our nation for the better by ensuring that all students receive an equitable education. That is, education rooted in culturally sustaining pedagogical practices that meet the needs of California’s linguistically, ethnically, differently abled, and socioeconomically diverse student population. I work with people who understand that equity-based teacher preparation is one of the best ways to ensure a better life and country for all of us.
I am the Program Director of The California Teacher Residency Lab (The Lab) at the CDE Foundation (CDEF). The Lab is a learning community where clinically rich teacher residency programs learn from one another and from experts, strengthen their intra-program partnerships, strengthen their programs, and engage in formal and informal networking.
What Are Teacher Residencies?
Teacher residencies programs are an effective way to diversify the teacher workforce and address California’s teacher shortage. Residency programs attract more teachers of color, produce teachers in high-shortage fields like special education and mathematics, allow districts to hire teachers who understand the inner-workings of their school district, and are prepared to teach on Day 1 of school. They ensure residents have a teaching job when they finish the program. Additionally, teachers who graduate from residency programs typically remain in the profession long-term. See www.residencylab.org for more details.
California’s 2018–19 Budget Act sent a strong signal to the field when it appropriated $75 million for the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) to establish a competitive grant program to support teacher residencies in California as one way to address California’s teacher shortage problem. A total of 33 local educational agencies were awarded grants starting in the 2019–20 school year, to develop or expand existing teacher residency teacher preparation pathways in partnership with an institute of higher education with a commission-approved teacher preparation program. The funding continues over 4 years, ending in June 2023. The Teacher Residency Grant program did not include funding for the CTC to provide technical assistance or other supports for participating programs, which is why The Lab was conceived of and established under the innovative leadership of the CDEF and the support of prominent stakeholders and philanthropic partners.
And now, I am excited to announce that we are starting up Year 2 of The Lab! Our focus is, Advancing Equity: Recruiting, Retaining, and Supporting Educators of Color.
Our opening event features a very special conversation with Dr. Mary Sandy, Executive Director, CTC, and Dr. Marquita Grenot-Scheyer, CSU Assistant Vice Chancellor, Educator Preparation and Public-School Programs, about the importance of teacher residencies in relation to intentionality in equity-driven teacher preparation, diversification of the workforce, and how vital these programs are especially in light of COVID-19.
If you feel like you need something to lift your spirits right now, or you just recognize how important education and teachers are right now, join us for this special event! I hope to see you there.
 Espinoza, D., Saunders, R., Kini, T., & Darling-Hammond, L. (2018). Taking the long view: State efforts to solve teacher shortages by strengthening the profession. Palo Alto, CA: Learning Policy Institute.