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RIDE supports several blogs throughout our website where Rhode Islanders and RIDE staff share their thoughts.

On this page, we have collected all of the blogs on our site - many of which share posts from Rhode Island educators other than RIDE staff. Blogs are listed in alphabetical order:

  • Commissioner's Corner: Blog posts and messages from the Commissioner to the Rhode Island community.
  • District Teacher of the Year (DTOY): Posts from the Rhode Island District Teachers of the Year, past and present, who share about instructional successes and challenges they encounter in Rhode Island classrooms.
  • Equitable Access to Excellent Educators: Rhode Island educators and RIDE staff explore factors and perspectives on the importance of ensuring that all students are taught by high quality educators.
  • Leadership: Reflections and insights from RIDE’s Leadership Fellow and other district and school leaders on the challenges and opportunities of being a school leader.
  • Rhode Island Poet Laureate: Reflections and poetry focused on teaching, learning, and the experience of education from Tina Cane, Rhode Island Poet Laureate.
  • Rhode Island Science Education (R.I.S.E.): A communication blog to update stakeholders in education and in the community on important developments, events and accomplishments in science education in Rhode Island.
  • Student Voice: Because student voice is an essential component of our discussion on education, RIDE will post essays written by students from around Rhode Island.

Click on a category below to filter by a particular blog:

Ed Prep Design Winners Piloting Innovative Supports for EL Teachers

Posted by: Kamlyn Keith on 1/28/2019
Commissioner Ken Wagner

In August, RIDE and the Office of Innovation awarded $30,000 to help teams of educators – comprising both current K-12 educators and faculty of ed prep programs – improve teacher preparation in Rhode Island. These awards came after a six month Design Thinking process, with nine teams ultimately submitting proposals. After a rigorous review process and a presentation by five finalists to a panel of judges, two teams were ultimately awarded funds.

Both winning teams decided to focus on a growing challenge for Rhode Island teachers: how to serve and support English learners (ELs).

We caught up with the team leaders to talk about how the work is going with the school year now well underway, and what they hope to accomplish thanks to their successful proposals in the Ed Prep Design Challenge.

Kelly Donnell from Roger Williams University and Michael Broschart from Teach for America were not surprised to see a common theme among applicants, but were encouraged that so many educators – from K-12 classroom educators to district leaders and through to teacher preparation faculty in higher education – are working hard to improve services for and outcomes of English learner students.

“It was amazing to see,” Broschart said. “It’s a huge need. Even our teachers who are teaching not a direct EL classroom are teaching students who need EL services.”

His team’s project aims to create a professional learning community that starts with TFA corps members, but has the potential to engage the entire state.

“We have an ambitious goal of creating a thriving EL community where teachers are working across all content areas and all different school types, talking about the needs of EL students and really problem solving and generating solutions,” he said. “It starts by building the relationship between new teachers and veteran teachers.”

Already, Broschart has been collaborating with cohort fellows Alexa Brunton, Implementation and EL Specialist at NE Basecamp, and Maureen Rooney, English Language Fellow with the US Department of State, to build the infrastructure for a mentor program that pairs master teachers with deep EL skills with new teachers or those who lack experience with English learners. New teachers will have the opportunity to observe a master teacher’s classroom for at least three full days, and then meet with their mentor/coach every other month for training and discussion. In the off-months, and for three packed days each summer, those new teachers would also go through professional development for which the team designed a tailor-made curriculum on EL instruction.

The new teachers are all TFA corps members, and they are hoping to recruit master teachers from districts across the state. These master teachers would receive a small stipend, funded by the Ed Prep Design Challenge winnings. The team is almost ready to post an application online for master teachers.

While Broschart’s team is focused on in-classroom observation, Donnell and her colleagues developed an approach that has the potential to be accessed anywhere, at any time.

Pulling from the national Teachers of English and a Second Language (TESOL) standards, the RWU team spent the first half of the year selecting power standards – five standards out of the 60-plus prescribed by TESOL to focus on when honing teacher practice. They also developed a calibration process, and have begun to calibrate and score videos of teacher practice.

The thought is that teachers going through the University’s one-year, competency-based English learner certification program can use video to document their work, self-reflect, and collaborate with colleagues – and veteran teacher coaches, in particular – to assess their practice and make improvements.

“It’s a completely different experience to see yourself doing something successfully or to be able to recognize, right off the bat, ‘oh, you don’t even need to tell me. I can see that that didn’t work. Let’s talk about what I might have done differently and what my other options are’,” Donnell explained.

Using video as the medium has the potential to be a game-changer for teacher candidates, not only because of its implications for sharing best practices widely and easily, but also because it allows a candidate to see his or her progress in real time. Broschart credited Donnell’s team with coming up with an innovative process, and said he can imagine video resources in general being helpful to his program and to all teacher preparation programs.

“That kind of library of experience, once you have it, is going to be unprecedented and incredible,” he said.

RWU is currently utilizing this process with their first cohort of teachers from Providence and Pawtucket. The university has received approval to expand statewide, and Donnell cannot wait to see how that expansion helps continue cross-district collaboration moving forward.

“The cross pollination there has been really exciting,” she said. “Why aren’t we collaborating more? Why aren’t we talking more? In both of our programs, that’s been a real positive to use this opportunity to enhance these conversations. There have been a lot of really exciting ‘aha’ moments.”

Stay tuned for more learnings from our Ed Prep Design Challenge winners as their pilot projects wrap up and they look to expand their efforts later this spring.

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