As schools nationwide struggle with staff shortages, policymakers and school divisions are seeking ways to bolster the teacher pipeline and provide deeper support for preservice and novice teachers. Through a new partnership between William & Mary and Newport News Public Schools (NNPS), the Teachers in Residence program is providing aspiring teachers both financial and professional support as they pursue a master’s degree in teaching, in exchange for a commitment to teach in the division after graduation.
“Research shows that this kind of apprenticeship, in which students get in-depth training with a master teacher as they are completing their coursework, is highly effective at preparing students for the teaching profession, particularly in high-need and urban school settings,” says Lindy Johnson, associate professor and chair of the Curriculum & Instruction department at William & Mary.
Any student admitted to the master’s degree programs in Elementary Education and Secondary English Education — the two areas identified by NNPS as current high-need areas — may apply for the program. Students receive $9,000 toward tuition, as well as a stipend of up to $20,000. Students must commit to teach in Newport News Public Schools for three years after graduation.
Now recruiting its second cohort, the program is a full-year internship, placing student teachers in the classroom with a cooperating teacher for the full 180-day school year. The program doubles the number of days that students spend in the classroom as they train. NNPS also provides additional coaching and support, including an instructional coach and cohort-based reflection activities.
The ability to work side-by-side with a master teacher and build early relationships with the school community is extremely valuable, say the teachers in residence.
“Being a full-time teacher in residence has allowed me to engage with my students in the classroom every day,” says Shauna Park ‘21, M.A.Ed. ‘22. “Because I am always present in the class, students view me as one of their teachers rather than an observer, which has helped establish professional rapport between us while developing a sense of community.”
The increased time in the classroom also allows teachers in residence more opportunities to experiment, test new ideas, and practice the strategies they are learning in their classes.
“It allows me to really make connections between coursework and classroom experiences and observations,” says Emily Salmon ‘21, M.A.Ed. ‘22. “It’s also nice to be able to see the more realistic and practical applications of what we’re learning in class and see how to adapt to fit the needs of the students and school.”
The program is intense, and students say that careful time management is essential. After spending the school day at their placements in Newport News, they return to campus several afternoons a week for classes, often staying into the evening.
“The challenges have been learning how to balance it all,” says Emma Wise ‘21, M.A.Ed. ‘22. “I am very lucky that my cooperating teacher is supportive of me and my course work, as she makes my assignments a priority during our lesson planning. As this school year is still taking place during a pandemic, we have students in and out of the class on quarantine, so I am learning a lot of advocacy and flexibility.”
Despite the challenges, the teachers in residence say that being with their students every day is energizing and inspiring, giving them the motivation to keep moving forward.
“One of my greatest joys about working in the residency program is building relationships with my students,” says Park. “I went into the program unsure about which secondary level I would be in, but realized I genuinely love working with middle school and am committed to teaching at this grade level when I graduate.”