Training tool

Memphis Teacher Residency launches new training program

PHOTO: Oliver Morrison
New teachers undergo training in 2014 through the Memphis Teacher Residency.

Almost 300 teachers and graduates of Memphis Teacher Residency will have access to a new training program this year called MTRUniversity.

Leaders of the teacher preparation organization say the supplemental program will help their teachers-in-training learn across all four years of their residency, plus offer training opportunities for program graduates. In their first year, MTR residents work alongside teachers with Shelby County Schools and the Achievement School District while attending classes through Union University. In their second year, they apply to jobs with the district in neighborhoods that MTR partners with.

“We realized we were losing three-fourths share of opportunity to continue teaching our teachers new things,” said Matt Campbell, MTR’s director of graduate development.

The additional support and training also should help with teacher retention, said Stephanie Williams, an MTR instructional coach.

“For 20 years, I’ve seen the ups and downs of what it’s like to be a teacher and the struggles new teachers have without support,” said Williams, a former educator with Shelby County Schools. “We did what we could, but it wasn’t enough. Data shows how many new teachers leave within three to five years because of lack of support.”

Only 41 percent of new teachers in Tennessee teach three consecutive years, according to the 2014 Tennessee teacher preparation report card from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. In comparison, 70 percent of MTR graduates from 2012-2013 completed their three-year teaching requirement. MTR reported in 2014 that, for its total number of residents up to that point, 91 percent had completed their three-year commitment.

That’s why MTR is getting into the professional development game: to better support teachers in skills learned on the job, such as classroom management and creating a classroom culture. Teachers who feel supported are more likely to stay, Williams said.MTRU logo

“It’s meant to be everything that the books didn’t cover that you’re going to need,” she said. “I know what I learned in college wasn’t enough, but I had teachers older than me that cared enough walk alongside me. That’s what we’re doing here. That’s what’s needed here.”

MTR is a Christian-based nonprofit organization, launched in 2009, that has developed a strong track record in recruiting and developing teachers for Memphis.

MTRUniversity’s first classes will be held July 11-12 and are open to all MTR teachers. Many are designed for those in their first year of teaching solo. Sessions are planned for the fall and next spring as well. The MTR staff picks some of the sessions, and MTR teachers can submit requests for other relevant courses.

A highlight this summer will be sessions on how to address trauma-related issues in the classroom, which will be taught by Memphis Family Connection Center.

“We recognize that many of our teachers have students coming into the classroom with deep emotional stress,” Campbell said. “These sessions will cover addressing behavior when typical techniques of management fail.”

Most classes will be taught by current Memphis teachers, which MTR leaders view as an asset.

“The further along in a classroom you get, the easier it is to only think about what’s going on in your classroom and building, but this is a great way to see what other people are doing well,” said Courtney Humphreys, an elementary coach with MTR. “Teachers in classroom currently are the most aware of current practices and are able to speak really honestly about works and what doesn’t work.”

Session topics for the July 11-12 dates include:

  • Classroom systems for efficiency
  • Daily 5: Fostering literacy independence
  • Creating a culture of thinking in your classroom
  • Improving your guided reading
  • Screening and discussion of documentary “Beyond Measure,” which will serve as the Memphis debut of the 2015 film about public education in America

Detroit week in review

Week in review: The state’s year-round scramble to fill teaching jobs

Miss Michigan Heather Heather Kendrick spent the day with students at the Charles H. Wright Academy of Arts and Science in Detroit

While much of the media attention has been focused this year on the severe teacher shortage in the main Detroit district, our story this week looks at how district and charter schools throughout the region are now scrambling year-round to fill vacant teaching jobs — an instability driven by liberal school choice laws, a decentralized school system and a shrinking pool of available teachers.

The teacher shortage has also made it difficult for schools to find substitutes as many are filling in on long-term assignments while schools try to fill vacancies. Two bills proposed in a state senate committee would make it easier for schools to hire retirees and reduce the requirements for certifying subs.  

Also, don’t forget to reserve your seat for Wednesday’s State of the Schools address. The event will be one of the first times in recent years when the leader of the city’s main district — Nikolai Vitti — will appear on the same stage as the leaders of the city’s two largest charter school authorizers. For those who can’t make it, we will carry it live on Chalkbeat Detroit.

Have a good week!

– Julie Topping, Editor, Chalkbeat Detroit

STATE OF THE SCHOOLS: The State of the Schools address will pair Vitti with the leaders of the schools he’s publicly vowed to put out of business, even as schools advocates say city kids could benefit if the leaders of the city’s fractured school system worked together to solve common problems.

LOOKING FOR TEACHERS: The city’s teacher shortage mirrors similar challenges across the country but the problem in Detroit is exacerbated by liberal school choice policies that have forced schools to compete with each other for students and teachers.

Hiring efforts continue at Detroit’s main school district, which is planning another job fair. Head Start centers are also looking for teachers. Three new teachers talk about the challenges, rewards and obstacles of the classroom.

WHOSE MONEY IS IT? The state Senate sent a bill to the House that would allow charters to receive a portion of property tax hikes approved by voters. Those funds have historically gone only to traditional district schools.

UNITED THEY STAND: Teachers in this southwest Detroit charter school voted to join a union, but nationally, union membership for teachers has been falling for two decades.

COLLEGE AND CAREERS: A national foundation based in Michigan granted $450,000 to a major Detroit business coalition to help more students finish college.

High school seniors across the state will be encouraged to apply to at least one college this month. The main Detroit district meanwhile showed off a technical center that prepares youngsters and adults for careers in construction, plumbing and carpentry and other fields.  

STEPS TO IMPROVEMENT: A prominent news publisher explains why he told lawmakers he believes eliminating the state board of education is the right thing to do. An advocate urged Michigan to look to other states for K-12 solutions. And one local newspaper says the governor is on the right track to improving education in Michigan.

This think tank believes businesses should be more engaged in education debates.

LISTEN TO US: The newly elected president of a state teachers union says teachers just want to be heard when policy is being made. She wrote in a Detroit newspaper that it takes passion and determination to succeed in today’s classrooms.

A PIONEER: Funeral services for a trailblazing African American educator have been scheduled for Saturday.

Also, the mother-in-law of U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, died in her west Michigan home.

FARM-TO-SCHOOL:  A state program that provides extra money to school districts for locally grown produce has expanded to include more schools.

BETTER THAN AN APPLE: Nominate your favorite educator for Michigan Teacher of the Year before the 11:59 deadline tonight.

An Ann Arbor schools leader has been named the 2018 Michigan Superintendent of the Year by a state group of school administrators.

MYSTERY SMELL: The odor from a failed light bulb forced a Detroit high school to dismiss students early this week.

EXTRA CREDIT: Miss Michigan encouraged students at one Detroit school to consider the arts as they follow their dreams. The city schools foundation honored two philanthropic leaders as champions for education.

And high school students were inspired by a former college football player. 

Struggling Detroit schools

The list of promises is long: Arts, music, robotics, gifted programs and more. Will Detroit schools be able to deliver?

PHOTO: Detroit Public Television
Detroit schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti answers questions at a community meeting in Detroit.

Arts. Music. Robotics. Programs for gifted kids. New computers. New textbooks. Dual enrollment programs that let high school students take college classes. International Baccalaureate. Advanced Placement.

They’re all on the list of things that Detroit schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti told a group of community members assembled in a Brightmoor neighborhood church that he would introduce or expand as soon as next school year.

Vitti didn’t get into the specifics of how the main Detroit district would find the money or partnerships needed to deliver on all of those promises, but they’re part of the plan for the future, he said.

The comments came in a question and answer session last month with students, parents and community members following Vitti’s appearance on Detroit Public Television’s American Black Journal/One Detroit Roadshow. The discussion was recorded at City Covenant Church. DPTV is one of Chalkbeat’s partners in the Detroit Journalism Cooperative.

Vitti has been appearing at community events since taking over the Detroit schools last spring. He is scheduled next week to join officials from two of the city’s major charter school authorizers, Central Michigan University and Grand Valley State University, at a State of the Schools address on October 25.


Watch the full Q&A with Vitti below.